2012/04/03

NEW NET Weekly List for 03 Apr 2012

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 03 April 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.        File Syncing Service, TwinFolder, Poised to Disrupt the Cloud Storage  http://www.seattlepi.com/business/press-releases/article/File-Syncing-Service-TwinFolder-Poised-to-3452606.php  “…TwinFolder.com, a new file syncing, sharing and online backup service is preparing to launch a beta version of its product. According to TwinFolder, the service will be available mid-April…TwinFolder provides extra controls over shared content with read/write/share permissions…Unlike DropBox, the market leader for file syncing, TwinFolder does not impose a limit on the number of folders synced. Apart from these features, TwinFolder is developing a desktop-grade web app, which is intuitive and easy to use. It looks like native operating system file browser, and lets users manipulate their files with easy drag/drop and cut/copy/paste operations…The company plans to give 5 GB for free to let users try the service. Additional space can be bought at 50 GB for $2.99/month and 100 GB for $5.99/month. For its beta users and early adopters, the company is offering 10 GB free space…” [because there’s not much info on this startup/service and because it almost seems too good to be true, maybe tonight’s NEW NETers can discuss how one should separate emerging tech good deals from scams – ed.]
2.       Refrigerator Magnet Lets You Order a Pizza in One Tap  http://mashable.com/2012/03/26/magnet-pizza/  “…A pizzeria in Dubai has unveiled a new refrigerator magnet that actually orders pizza in a single tap…the pizza box-shaped magnet is connected to Red Tomato Pizza in Dubai. The magnet is preset to order a pizza online and is connected to the Internet via the Bluetooth connection on a smartphone. Red Tomato Pizza then sends a confirmation text and delivers the pizza soon after. You can…update your pizza selection online at any time…Refrigerators have also recently been in the spotlight for embracing the web…Samsung touted a refrigerator that tweets, plays music and even displays your Google Calendar…LG announced earlier this year…a refrigerator that helps you maintain your diet, sends recipes to your smart oven and even keeps you posted when you run out of certain groceries …”
3.       Microsoft Unveils New Plan to Speed Up the Web  http://www.webmonkey.com/2012/03/microsoft-unveils-new-plan-to-speed-up-the-web/  “…the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), is meeting this week to discuss the future of the venerable Hypertext Transfer Protocol, better known as HTTP. On the agenda is creating HTTP 2.0, a faster, modern approach to internet communication. One candidate for HTTP 2.0 is Google’s SPDY protocol. Pronounced “speedy,” Google’s proposal would replace the HTTP protocol…The SPDY protocol handles all the same tasks as HTTP, but SPDY can do it all about 50 percent faster. Chrome and Firefox both support SPDY and several large sites, including Google and Twitter, are already serving pages over SPDY where possible…But now Microsoft is submitting another proposal for the IETF to consider. Microsoft’s new HTTP Speed+Mobility…appears to cover much of the same territory SPDY has staked out…HTTP Speed+Mobility builds on SPDY but…includes improvements drawn from…HTML5 WebSockets API. The emphasis is on not just the web and web browsers, but mobile apps…SPDY co-inventor Mike Belshe…notes that Microsoft’s implication that SPDY is not optimized for mobile “is not true …”
4.       Tracking wind data in real time  http://www.visualnews.com/2012/03/29/the-world-gets-swirly-tracking-wind-data-in-real-time/  “It’s hard to imaging a visualization more beautiful than this new animated map of wind speeds across the continental U.S. Individual lines delicately weave their way across the land in Vincent van Gogh like fashion, tracing near real-time wind forecasts around the nation and giving us a mesmerizing view of everything from breezes to gales. The map displays data from the National Digital Forecast Database, and is updated every hour, giving a near real-time look at the country. White lines over a grey landmass show winds traveling at different speeds in scale to their actual velocity. For additional information on wind speed, the side of the chart contains an easy to understand key which roughly shows wind speeds based on the relative density of white lines. The map also offers a zoomable view, giving wind velocities at larger towns and cities with a simple mouse-over…”
5.        For-Profit University Sets $199-a-Month Tuition for Online Courses  http://chronicle.com/article/No-Financial-Aid-No-Problem/131329/  “…Students are flocking to Western Governors University, driving growth of 30 to 40 percent each year. You might expect that competitors would be clamoring to copy the nonprofit online institution's model, which focuses on whether students can show "competencies" rather than on counting how much time they've spent in class. So why haven't they? Two reasons, says the education entrepreneur Gene Wade. One, financial-aid regulatory problems that arise with self-paced models that aren't based on seat time. And two, opposition to how Western Governors changes the role of professor, chopping it into "course mentors" who help students master material, and graders who evaluate homework but do no teaching. Mr. Wade hopes to clear those obstacles with a start-up company, UniversityNow, that borrows ideas from Western Governors while offering fresh twists on the model. One is cost. The for-profit's new venture—New Charter University, led by Sal Monaco, a former Western Governors provost—sidesteps the loan system by setting tuition so cheap that most students shouldn't need to borrow. The price: $796 per semester, or $199 a month, for as many classes as they can finish…Another novelty: New Charter offers a try-it-before-you-buy-it platform that mimics the "freemium" model of many consumer Web services. Anyone can create an account and start working through its self-paced online courses free of charge. Their progress gets recorded. If they decide to pay up and enroll, they get access to an adviser…and course specialists…The project is the latest in a series of experiments that use technology to rethink the economics of higher education, from the $99-a-month introductory courses of StraighterLine to the huge free courses provided through Stanford and MIT…”
6.       IETF attendees reengineer their hotel's Wi-Fi network  http://www.networkworld.com/news/2012/032812-ietf-makeover-257762.html  “What happens when a bunch of IETF super nerds show up in Paris for a major conference and discover their hotel's Wi-Fi network has imploded? They give it an Extreme Wi-Fi Makeover…as attendees began discovering on arrival last Sunday at the tony and towering Hotel Concorde Lafayette, close by the historic Champs-Elysees, the Wi-Fi was flakey and became flakier still as scores more attendees arrived and tried to connect…One persistent complaint was that numerous outgoing Internet ports were inexplicably blocked, something which affected both wired and wireless connections. "The [Wi-Fi is] working well enough for me for skype, mail and browsing. One real issue (at least for me) is [that] outgoing non-standard TCP ports, which I need for my normal VPN, seem to be blocked…I am surprised by how many other ports the Concorde blocks," agreed Geoff Mulligan…One user complained that nearly all ports used by common instant messaging protocols are blocked, causing Cisco's Anton Ivanov to grouse, "This port blocking is so depressingly stupid…Being engineers, users quickly got creative on their own to improve their wireless connectivity…The IETF attendees seemed in agreement that the problems were not caused by the Colubris equipment, but by its deployment and configuration by an unnamed independent network integrator who installed them. There were…far too many access points with radios set at high power and poor channel planning…a team of IETF attendees negotiated with the hotel and were granted access to the wireless network by Sunday night…changes made by the IETF makeover team included: Decreasing the AP receiver sensitivity…Increasing the minimum data and multicast rate from 1Mbps to 2Mbps…Decreasing the transmit power from 20dBm to 10dBm…turning off the radios on numerous APs to reduce the [RF] noise…France lets Wi-Fi use channels 1-13 in the 2.4 GHz band. "As three channels are very limiting in a very 3D structure, like this hotel, I've chosen to go with 4 channels, using 1, 5, 9, and 13," he said…You get a slight bit more of cross-channel interference, but the additional channel is worth it…”
7.        New Found app is a one-stop search for your files in the cloud  http://venturebeat.com/2012/04/02/new-found-app-is-a-one-stop-search-for-your-files-in-the-cloud/  “Found is a…Mac application that wants to be like OS X’s Spotlight, but for all the files you have stored across cloud services, including Dropbox, Google Docs, and Gmail…He and his partner, Vijay Sundaram, decided the fragmentation of files across multiple devices and cloud services was a big issue today, one that could be solved with a single application…even in beta, there are some nice touches that reflect smart, careful design…you can drag and drop a found file to anywhere else on your computer, including onto an open Gmail message where it will be added as an attachment…he hopes to add support for Evernote, Box, and Salesforce in the near future. If they manage to link it to multiple devices, it would be a killer utility for every person with scattered files. If you don’t want to wait until May to use the app, you can sign up for an invite for the beta …”
Gigabit Internet
8.       Illinois statewide competition to build gigabit internet communities  http://www.shlb.org/blog/index.cfm/2012/03/21/Illinois-Gigabit-Communities-Challenge--a-Model-for-the-Nation  “Illinois Governor Quinn has proposed a fascinating challenge grant to any broadband provider to deploy a "Gigabit Communiy"…following in the footsteps of Google's Kansas City network build, and EPB's fiber-based gigabit network…in Chattanooga, TN. ..Governor Pat Quinn is launching a competition that will award up to $4,000,000 in prize funding to the most promising ultra high-speed broadband deployment projects in Illinois…Open to any private or public organization, the contest will result in seed funding awards to build or expand world-class broadband networks in Illinois. Each proposal should outline a viable plan to connect at least 1,000 end users…The best proposals will outline how completing ultra-high speed network construction by the end of 2013 will…Improve employment opportunities…Enhance economic development through the development of “smart communities” …”
9.       Wi-Fi is evolving, should you keep up? What 802.11ac means for you  http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/wi-fi-is-evolving-should-you-keep-up-what-802-11ac-means-for-you/  “Wi-Fi will be getting up to four times more bandwidth with 802.11ac, and gear supporting it will be hitting shelves in just a few months…Wi-Fi has become an essential part of our lives…In most homes, it has even replaced the need for wired networks…802.11n…theoretically offers wireless throughput of up to 300 megabits per second per stream…802.11ac…will not only offer a boost in bandwidth (up to 433 or 867 megabits per second per stream, depending on channel width) but should offer more reliable connections…802.11ac is backward compatible with 802.11n…802.11n…operate in the unlicensed 2.4GHz frequency band…802.11ac shifts Wi-Fi up to to the 5GHz band…in many cases the 5GHz band offers better penetration of ceilings and walls, enabling better reception in buildings…a two-antenna system running 80MHz channels offers double the theoretical bandwidth of a one-antenna system, so 867 Mbps. Bump that up to four antennas and you’re up to 1.73Gbps…Each 802.11ac device…will be able to transmit or received independent data streams at the same time. Furthermore, those streams will be separated spatially, rather than by frequency…devices have smart antennas that enable them to determine the approximate locations of devices in an area, and tailor their transmission toward those devices using phased array technologies — so, instead of broadcasting all data to everything in range, devices are able to target their transmissions, significantly improving efficiency and performance…Although 802.11ac…may be able to tick along at speeds approaching (or in excess) of gigabit Ethernet, most users’ home Internet connections don’t run at anywhere near that capacity…802.11ac does mean users will be able to push data around their home networks faster…Since most everyday technology users probably aren’t going to see tremendous immediate benefits from 802.11ac technology, I recommend holding off …People building new networks — whether for homes or business — should consider going with 802.11ac as long as they don’t need to support pre-N devices…”
Security, Privacy & Digital Controls
10.     Hasbro Can’t Stop Sale Of ‘Transformer Prime’ Tablets  http://paidcontent.org/article/419-hasbro-cant-stop-sale-of-transformer-prime-tablets/  “In a court ruling that reads at times like a pop culture or consumer gadget review, a federal judge gave tablet maker Asus a green light to sell its “Transformer” tablets. Hasbro filed a lawsuit against Asus late last year that claimed the Transformer Prime would lead to confusion with its popular toy robots. As the judge explained: “The Autobots are led by the virtuous Optimus Prime character, while the Decepticons follow the powerful Megatron. According to Hasbro, Optimus Prime is intended to epitomize honor, duty, leadership, and freedom.” Hasbro tried to persuade the court that consumers would believe the Asus tablets were connected to the toy franchise. The company pointed out that its transformer toy decal had been used on products like USB storage drives, computer mouses, skins for laptops, speaker heads and iPod docks. The court also took note that: “In the third film, an Autobot character known as “Brains” disguised itself as a Lenovo ThinkPad Edge Plus laptop…”
11.      Fake ID holders beware: facial recognition service Face.com can now detect your age  http://venturebeat.com/2012/03/29/fake-id-holders-beware-facial-recognition-service-face-com-can-now-detect-your-age/  “Facial-recognition platform Face.com could foil the plans of all those under-age kids looking to score some booze. Fake IDs might not fool anyone for much longer, because Face.com claims its new application programming interface (API) can be used to detect a person’s age by scanning a photo. With its facial recognition system, Face.com has built two Facebook apps that can scan photos and tag them for you. The company also offers an API for developers to use its facial recognition technology in the apps they build…One developer has already used the API to build app called Age Meter, which is available in the Apple App Store…Other companies in this space include Cognitec, with its FaceVACS software development kit, and Bayometric, which offers FaceIt Face Recognition. Google has also developed facial-recognition technology for Android 4.0 and Apple applied for a facial recognition patent last year…the day when bouncers and liquor store cashiers can use an app to scan a fake ID’s holder’s face, determine that they are younger than the legal drinking age, and refuse to sell them wine coolers may not be too far off.”
12.     House Shoots Down Legislation to Stop Employers From Demanding Your Facebook Password  http://techcrunch.com/2012/03/28/house-shoots-down-bill-that-would-have-stopped-employers-from-demanding-your-facebook-password/  “…A proposed Facebook user protection amendment introduced yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives has already been shot down. The legislation, offered by Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter, would have added new restrictions to FCC rules that would have prohibited employers from demanding workers’ social networking usernames and passwords. The final vote was 236 to 184, with only one House Republican voting in support of the changes…”
13.     Email and web use 'to be monitored' under new laws  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17576745  “The government will be able to monitor the calls, emails, texts and website visits of everyone in the UK under new legislation set to be announced soon. Internet firms will be required to give intelligence agency GCHQ access to communications on demand, in real time. The Home Office says the move is key to tackling crime and terrorism…the Home Office said action was needed to "maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes"…Nick Pickles, director of the Big Brother Watch campaign group, called the move "an unprecedented step that will see Britain adopt the same kind of surveillance seen in China and Iran"…Even if it is announced in the Queen's Speech, any new law would still have to make it through Parliament, potentially in the face of opposition in both the Commons and the Lords…”
14.     ‘Girls Around Me’ Developer Defends App After Foursquare Dismissal  http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2012/03/31/girls-around-me-developer-defends-app-after-foursquare-dismissal/  “The developer of a controversial mobile app that used data from Facebook and Foursquare to reveal the location of nearby women defended its intentions Saturday after drawing a firestorm of criticism over privacy concerns. On Saturday, Foursquare cut off access to the “Girls Around Me” app that made it possible to view the location of women on a map and their publicly available data and photographs from Facebook…A number of blogs…raised questions as to whether the app encourages stalking. The Russian app developer, i-Free Innovations, fired back with a strongly worded statement…calling it “unethical to pick a scapegoat to talk about the privacy concerns. We see this wave of negative as a serious misunderstanding of the apps’ goals, purpose, abilities and restrictions.” I-Free said “Girls Around Me” only provides data that is publicly available on Foursquare and Facebook…the developer repeatedly made the case that the app’s intention was simply to help people discover public venues nearby. This despite the name of the app, “Girls Around Me,” and the fact that its promos show women in provocative poses.…”
15.     Police use cell phone tracking/hacking as routine tool  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/01/us/police-tracking-of-cellphones-raises-privacy-fears.html  “…tracking of cellphones…has become a powerful and widely used surveillance tool for local police officials, with hundreds of departments, large and small, often using it aggressively with little or no court oversight, documents show…in Nevada, North Carolina and other states, police departments have gotten wireless carriers to track cellphone signals back to cell towers as part of nonemergency investigations to identify all the callers using a particular tower, records show…In California, state prosecutors advised local police departments on ways to get carriers to “clone” a phone and download text messages while it is turned off…in Arizona, even small police departments found cell surveillance so valuable that they acquired their own tracking equipment to avoid the time and expense of having the phone companies carry out the operations for them. The police in the town of Gilbert, for one, spent $244,000 on such equipment…law enforcement officials said the legal questions were outweighed by real-life benefits…Many departments try to keep cell tracking secret, the documents show, because of possible backlash from the public and legal problems…“Do not mention to the public or the media the use of cellphone technology or equipment used to locate the targeted subject,” the Iowa City Police Department warned officers…It should also be kept out of police reports, it advised…”
Mobile Computing & Communicating
16.     FreedomPop’s plan to become the anti-carrier  http://gigaom.com/mobile/freedompops-plan-to-become-the-anti-carrier/  “…FreedomPop’s…plans to launch a “freemium” mobile broadband service this year are much more radical than we thought…FreedomPop plans to discard every vestige of the traditional carrier business model and adopt the strategy of a Web startup. It’s not only giving away bandwidth but wants its customers to treat megabytes as a currency they can earn and trade…The mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is creating a social network as well as a 4G service; it wants to connect devices that have never seen mobile broadband connection; and it will sell value-added services on top of those connections, possibly even voice…FreedomPop plans to give…1 GB at launch, though…it may scale back or increase that allotment before it goes live in the third quarter…this wouldn’t be a onetime gimmick or promotion: The free bucket would kick in each month…FreedomPop will charge 1 cent for every megabyte over that free cap…Customers will get bigger free data buckets for every customer they refer to the service…FreedomPop plans to make that capacity transferable. Say you’re running up against your 1 GB cap, but a friend who also happens to be a FreedomPop customer may be well short of hitting his cap. That customer can give you a portion of his free data allotment, allowing you to keep surfing gratis…The carrier plans to sell value-added services to its customers…The core services — access and social networking features — will be free, but FreedomPop will layer on paid applications…FreedomPop also hopes to launch this year with a mobile hotspot and USB dongle…Miller stressed that 4G access is only a minor part of the revenue equation…Customers who don’t use much data each month will cost FreedomPop little. Customers who consume a lot will quickly move into metered data, which allows the carrier to easily recover its costs…Considering that Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom is spearheading the launch of FreedomPop through his venture capital firm Atomico, you would think VoIP has to be a strong consideration…FreedomPop will avoid the huge customer acquisition costs carriers face by taking the same viral marketing approaches as an Internet company…FreedomPop plans to grow the same way as Dropbox, which grew exponentially by rewarding referrers with more online storage…FreedomPop is turning the entire carrier business model on its head. In the data world, carriers have long tried to sell services…By giving away access and focusing on services, FreedomPop may well succeed where the operators failed. But it’s also taking a big risk…” [if FreedomPop is launching with iOS devices exclusively (no Android) then I might have to buy an iPod Touch – ed.]
17.     Android to surpass Windows as top OS by 2016  http://techcrunch.com/2012/03/28/idc-by-2016-android-devices-to-outnumber-traditional-windows-pcs/  “…In 2011, Windows PCs running on any x86-compatible CPU lead with a 35.9% market share, while Android on ARM CPUs has a 29.4% share. iOS, meanwhile, is currently seeing a 14.6% share…By 2016, these numbers shift quite a bit. iOS is estimated to reach 17.3%, Android 31.1% and Windows will drop to 25.1%...Android’s growth is tied directly to the propagation of lower-priced devices…despite iOS’s smaller market share, it will still attract a large percentage of developers, as iOS users have proven they’re willing to actually pay for quality mobile apps…consumers aren’t dropping Windows to use Android tablets, or…only using iOS devices…Consumers have multiple devices, and they’re not necessarily all from the same OS…They may have an iPad but also an Android phone…They might run Windows, but use an iPhone…IDC calls the new era of computing “PC Plus,” which is really a better moniker than “post-PC,” as it implies multiple devices, not the end of the PC entirely …”
18.     Google 7-inch tablet PCs to bring price-cut pressure on other vendors  http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20120328PD216.html  “Google, in order to compete with Amazon, will cooperate with Asustek Computer to launch a 7-inch inexpensive tablet PC in May-June 2012 and this is expected to bring pressure of price cuts upon other vendors, including Acer, Lenovo and Samsung Electronics…Amazon's new Kindle Fire, set to launch in the third quarter, is expected to be priced around US$199-299, Google will price its tablet PC at US$199 to even out the price advantage…Google and Amazon's price war may seriously impact the pricing of 7-inch tablet PCs, forcing the market to enter fierce price competition …”
19.     Box’s New Cloud Storage Shuns Microsoft  http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/28/boxs-new-cloud-storage-shuns-microsoft/  “All the different computers and mobile devices that are used in today’s offices…could turn into a strategic advantage for some companies. Just not, perhaps, Microsoft. The online data storage company Box.net has announced plans for a product that will work with 30 different business applications across a range of mobile devices. Box says the product, OneCloud, works now with Apple’s iPhone and iPad, and will soon work with Android phones and tablets…Microsoft Windows notably absent from the announcement…“I promise you, the second Windows 8 has a meaningful amount of market share, we will build for them,” said Aaron Levie, chief executive of Box. He added, however, that “there is a profound shift in corporate computing. The winners will be platform-agnostic.”…Applications like Quickoffice, Adobe EchoSign, Nuance PaperPort Notes and PDF Expert all get a mention as outfits that will allow things like editing, annotation and e-signatures of work products stored in Box…Box, which specializes in the cheap storage and sharing of data, wants to avoid commoditization by becoming more of a platform for software developers to work in …”
20.    Nearly 70% of American Android users can’t figure out how to connect to a WiFi network  http://www.intomobile.com/2012/04/03/nearly-70-american-android-users-cant-figure-out-connect-wifi-network/  “Mobile data isn’t free. You know that, we know that, and we thought everyone else knew that, but according to a recent survey that was done by comScore, we couldn’t have been more wrong…29% of iPhone users in the US connect to the internet using nothing but cellular data…what about Android? An amazing 68% of Americans depend on their operator’s data network to connect to the internet, meaning they never bother configuring their device to join a WiFi network…Chances are you use your device most often while you’re at work, at home, or at your friend’s place. The only time you should be relying on your 3G or 4G connection is when you’re either commuting or when you need to look something up immediately…The question that operators should be asking themselves now is how do they make connecting to WiFi easier? With more people going through a WiFi network, that obviously translates to more capacity on the cellular network…”
21.     One-Third of U.S. High School Students Now Own an iPhone  http://www.macrumors.com/2012/04/03/one-third-of-u-s-high-school-students-now-own-an-iphone/  “…The results of the extensive survey of 5,600 U.S. high school students show that 34% of surveyed students now own an iPhone, an all-time high in the survey and double the percentage seen just a year ago. Furthermore, 40% of surveyed students indicated that they intend to purchase an iPhone within the next six months. Piper Jaffray ascribes the boom in iPhone use among students to new low-cost options from Apple. Apple and AT&T lowered the price of the iPhone 3GS to $49 back in January 2011, dropping it to free on-contract with the introduction of the iPhone 4S late last year…”
Apps
22.    Smugmug’s Camera Awesome Crosses 4M Downloads  http://techcrunch.com/2012/03/27/smugmug-camera-awesome/  “Here’s a tale of two photo apps. One has 27 million users after a year and a half, and comes from a company with 13 employees and $7.5 million in venture funding. But there’s nary a revenue model in sight. The other app is smaller with just over 4 million users in less than a month. But it’s packed with in-app purchases of filters…the company behind it is totally bootstrapped and has enough revenue to profitably support a headcount of 100 employees. Nothing illustrates how varied the path to success in the app store is more than these two. They’re Instagram and Camera Awesome…Camera Awesome is one of those higher-end photo apps that somehow gets more out of the camera with loads of presets and filters. It’s designed to appeal to real photography aficionados who obsesses over aperture, shutter speed, depth of field and so on, while still being simple enough for any iPhone owner to use…MacAskill says his team, which is made up of a bunch of avid DSLR camera owners, worked on the app for about a year. They focused on basics like getting the speed right, because other camera apps can have frustrating lag times…Smugmug’s story shows that it really isn’t necessary to take venture funding to build a company that’s a lot more than a lifestyle business…Another bootstrapped app maker, Tap Tap Tap, is behind another premium competitor called Camera+. They said last week that they crossed 10 million downloads of their paid app. That means they’ve made at least $7 million once you factor in Apple’s 30 percent cut. This number also excludes in-app purchases, so they likely have more than that from Camera+…”
23.    Evernote Android App Now Supports Speech-To-Text  http://www.intomobile.com/2012/03/28/evernote-android-36-adds-speechtotext-capability-widget-enhancements/  “Evernote…updated its Android app…There are two main things included in version 3.6 – speech-to-text capability and widget enhancements. In order to dictate your notes, simply tap the new speech bubble icon in the toolbar above the keyboard and see the magic happening, with Evernote placing your spoken words into the body of the note as text. When you’re done recording, the original audio is also attached to the note so you can later search for your audio notes…you can still use “pure” audio notes – tap and hold the speech bubble icon until it switches to a microphone; now tap the microphone to start recording…since this feature relies on Google’s text transcription service, you must be online for it to work. Moreover, your device should support the capability and not all phones running Gingerbread do — whereas all Android 4 devices come with speech-to-text built-in…”
24.    Bump Launches Payments App To Let You Share Money By Tapping Phones Together  http://www.fastcompany.com/1826526/bump-launches-payments-app-to-let-you-share-money-by-tapping-phones-together  “Bump, the app that lets users "bump" smartphones together to share contacts and photos, is launching another service to let users pay the same way. It's called Bump Pay. It's a simple solution, powered by PayPal, and designed to solve the headache of splitting drink or dinner tabs. Similar solutions exist, including one from Venmo and even PayPal's own Bump-enabled app which came out in 2010…Bump, an app that's been downloaded by more than 80 million users, has decided to introduce a new app, rather than update its original. "We certainly could have put it into the Bump app…cofounder and CEO David Lieb tells Fast Company. "But we wanted to test this idea out as a separate app to see if Bump Pay is interesting and useful enough to people, rather than conflating it with Bump right now." It's a problem many developers--at companies large and small--face when introducing new features…To avoid the issue of radically changing the core Bump app again, Lieb's team decided to launch Bump Pay as a standalone app, under the umbrella of what the startup is calling Bump Labs. "We decided that when we test these news ideas, we'll test them externally…”
25.    Snapguide wants to be your mobile how-to guide for everything  http://gigaom.com/2012/03/29/snapguide-wants-to-be-your-handheld-how-to-guide-for-everything/  “There are plenty of websites that provide in-depth information about specific topics, but apart from a few tired old services like eHow…there aren’t many places you can go to find how-to guides for a wide range of different things — from tying a bow tie or flying a kite to extracting honey from a beehive. Snapguide, which launched its iPhone app and web service this morning, wants to fill that void with a platform that allows experts of all kinds to create simple how-to explainers with photos and videos and to share those easily with a community of other users…Snapguide is clearly designed to take advantage of mobile devices like the iPhone, which for many have taken the place of the manual or cookbook they look to for help with a project. The guides that users create — which can contain a combination of audio, photos and video — are formatted so they are easy to see on a small screen, and the app also makes it easy for users to browse through existing guides and to “like” or comment on them…”
26.    With Over 30 Million Users On iOS, Instagram Finally Comes To Android  http://techcrunch.com/2012/04/03/instagram-android-demum/  “…photo-sharing darling Instagram is now available in the Android Market…the app is pretty simple, and that’s what makes it amazing. To use Instagram just open it up and either capture a photo or choose an existing one from your photo library. Once uploaded, the app allows you to move and scale your image. After you’ve selected a composition, you can run the image through the ‘Lux’ feature by pressing the Sun icon in the far left of the next screen…While on this step, you can either add a border or go sans, rotate an image,  or cancel out of the navigation screen by using the icons in the app’s top navigation bar. At the bottom of the screen, you’re met with…filters, including the SF-inspired Valencia, Sutro and Brannan and the one I always end up using, X-Pro…Once you decide on the exact specs of the photo you’re going to post, you click on the green check mark provided, and the app’s flow allows you to input a description and a Twitter-like hashtag for search, geotag the photo, and share to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Posterous, Foursquare or via email. In addition to sharing, clicking ‘Done’ will post the item to your Instagram feed, where it will be enjoyed by your followers if you have them…”
27.    Shazam Can Now Identify Your Content In As Little As A Second  http://techcrunch.com/2012/04/03/shazam-can-now-identify-your-content-in-as-little-as-a-second/  “Shazam has long been described as magic. You hear a song — perhaps a brand new one or maybe one that you’ve heard a million times but never knew the name of — and all you do is simply tap one button and information on that song is delivered directly to you…Shazam has today released an update that makes its content recognition even faster than it already is, with some tags appearing in as little as a second. The update will make all of Shazam’s iOS apps…speedier in terms of content recognition…”
SkyNet
28.    Google’s Self-Driving Car Takes Blind Man to Taco Bell Drive-thru  http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2402340,00.asp  “…Google this week posted a YouTube video…showing…Steve Mahan, who is legally blind, being taken on a ride in its self-driving Toyota Prius…The video shows Mahan sitting in the driver's seat as the car steers itself, using radar and lasers to make sure the road is clear. The car takes him through the drive-through of Taco Bell, then to the dry cleaners as Mahan jokes that "this is some of the best driving I've ever done. Ninety-five percent of my vision is gone, I'm well past legally blind…Where this would change my life is to give me the independence and flexibility to go the places I both want to go and need to go, when I need to do those things."…Last month, Nevada became the first state in the U.S. to approve self-driving cars, a necessary step for Google's vision to become a reality. A California state senator is crafting a similar bill…”
29.    Google Writes Check to Acquire Payments Technology Company TxVia  http://allthingsd.com/20120402/google-writes-check-to-acquire-payments-technology-company-txvia/  “…to regain some momentum in mobile payments technology, Google has acquired TxVia, a payments technology company…The New York-based company was working on a number of payment technologies, including prepaid and gift cards…Google Wallet has had a difficult time since launching about a year ago…it failed to secure partnerships with the four major wireless providers in the U.S. Today, it only works on a handful of Android smartphones sold by Sprint. Other carriers — most notably, Verizon Wireless — have refused to adopt the Wallet and instead are working on their own mobile payments strategy in a joint venture called ISIS. Additionally, the Google Wallet technology relies on near field communication, or NFC, which is not available at all retailers or embedded in many phones…Google has also faced a number of internal setbacks, including a couple of departures from the team, such as the resignation of Vikas Gupta, who was the head of consumer payments, and the reassignment of Stephanie Tilenius…Google Wallet’s co-founding engineer Rob von Behren has joined Square…TxVia has partnerships with some of the industry’s best-known brands and manages more than 100 million accounts…”
30.    Google Account Activity is a personal analytics tool for your Google life  http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/google-account-activity-offers-more-insight-to-email-search-patterns/72629  “…Google is providing a new stream of information to its users in the form of the Account Activity feature. In what (thankfully) looks like an opt-in feature, users can elect to receive a link to a password-protected report with insights about their email stats, search queries, and more when signed into their Google accounts. This report would be generated monthly…”
31.     Google's New 'Account Activity' Is a Sham  http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/mimssbits/27681/  “…According to lots of people, I got this completely wrong, since Google has a Dashboard that contains some of the information this piece asserts that Activity should contain…At the end of this post, please find a full response from Google, or check out the comments to learn just how daft I am. (For yet a third perspective, here's Om Malik agreeing with the original thesis of this piece, even in light of the Dashboard.) Google Account Activity is Google's fairly transparent attempt to differentiate itself from Facebook by being open about what it knows about you. But in their attempt to not overwhelm you with the truly scary amount of data they have compiled about you, they boiled it all down into a super accessible milquetoast of a dashboard that tells you absolutely nothing…what profound insights did I gain from this dashboard? That my most e-mailed contacts are my wife, my editor and myself, in that order. Also, my most popular video uploaded to YouTube is the only one I've ever bothered to publicize…That's it. You know what Google isn't telling you? Google knows every search query you've ever entered while logged in…Google has all kinds of demographic information about you…Google has a rough idea of your social graph, based on your gmail contacts and the frequency with which you email them…Thousands and thousands of lines of other information about you…”
32.    Google’s Grand Plan  http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2012/03/google_acquisitions_the_search_company_s_startling_transformation_under_ceo_larry_page_.html  “…Lawee heads Google’s acquisitions department, and is thus one of the few people in the world who can pluck an ambitious tech wannabe from obscurity and bring her into the big leagues. I visited Lawee…to get his perspective on how Google has changed in the year since Larry Page returned as CEO…Where the search company once seemed chaotic and experimental…it’s now disciplined, aggressive…Page shut down dozens of projects that were not central to Google’s mission…in 2011, Lawee shepherded Google’s purchase of at least 25 firms…Facebook, by comparison, bought just six companies in 2011. Apple bought three. Under Page…Google operates seven businesses…when Page began his term as CEO, many Google employees were “looking for a sense of direction.”…There was a perception we were losing to competitors. I felt that a year ago, a year and a half ago. I don’t feel that now…Page…mandated that all Googlers focus on seven business areas, and that they don’t look to expand Google’s reach beyond these core initiatives. The seven areas are: search, advertising, social networking, Android, Chrome, YouTube, and local mobile commerce…When Lawee looks at startups, he’s on a mission to find companies that will help each of these business units achieve specific goals…Regulators are slowing Google down…the regulatory inquiries have made the acquisition process rockier and more unpredictable…Omar Hamoui, the founder of AdMob, left Google shortly after the Federal Trade Commission approved Google’s acquisition of his company…there were several reasons for Hamoui’s departure, but one of them was the emotional toll of the FTC’s inquiry…AdMob has helped Google make a killing in mobile ads, but Lawee believes the business “would have been much better with Omar.”…Gone are the days when Google would buy a company only to have it disappear without ever producing a product. Page now expects direct, regular reports from Google’s acquisitions team on how recently purchased companies are performing…”
33.    Google Apps Vault Promises Easy E-Discovery  http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/252836/vault_brings_ediscovery_tools_to_google_apps.html  “Businesses generate and consume massive amounts of email and instant messaging communications. For many businesses, all of that data has to be preserved, and produced on demand in the event of litigation. Google has introduced Google Apps Vault--a new service for Google Apps for Business customers that promises streamlined data retention and e-discovery. As a part of any litigation, the company can be compelled by the court to provide all relevant material to the opposing legal counsel. The process of discovery—or in this case e-discovery—requires that the business be able to preserve, search, find, and retrieve electronic communications such as email messages or instant messaging chats. If a customer has a complaint, or a lawsuit is filed against the company for some reason, businesses need an efficient means of sifting through thousands upon thousands of emails and instant messaging chat threads to identify and retrieve communications that might be relevant to the matter…Google claims that Vault can reduce the costs of litigation, regulatory investigation, or compliance actions by providing a way to manage and preserve important business data generated or transmitted within Google Apps…”
General Technology
34.    Self-sculpting sand could allow spontaneous formation of new tools, duplication of broken mechanical parts  http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-04-self-sculpting-sand-spontaneous-formation-tools.html  “Imagine that you have a big box of sand in which you bury a tiny model of a footstool. A few seconds later, you reach into the box and pull out a full-size footstool: The sand has assembled itself into a large-scale replica of the model. That may sound like a scene from a Harry Potter novel, but it’s the vision animating a research project…at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory…Unlike many other approaches to reconfigurable robots, smart sand uses a subtractive method, akin to stone carving, rather than an additive method, akin to snapping LEGO blocks together. A heap of smart sand would be analogous to the rough block of stone that a sculptor begins with. The individual grains would pass messages back and forth and selectively attach to each other to form a three-dimensional object; the grains not necessary to build that object would simply fall away…the main challenge in developing smart sand is that the individual grains would have very few computational resources…To attach to each other, to communicate and to share power, the cubes use 'electropermanent magnets,' materials whose magnetism can be switched on and off with jolts of electricity. Each cube has magnets…on four of its six faces…The same algorithm can be varied to produce multiple, similarly sized copies of a sample shape, or to produce a single, large copy of a large object. “Say the tire rod in your car has sheared…You could duct tape it back together, put it into your system and get a new one…The pebbles use the magnets not only to connect to each other but also to communicate and to share power. Each pebble also has a tiny microprocessor, which can store just 32 kilobytes of program code and has only two kilobytes of working memory…True smart sand, of course, would require grains much smaller than 10-millimeter cubes. But according to Robert Wood, an associate professor of electrical engineering at Harvard University, that’s not an insurmountable obstacle. “Take the core functionalities of their pebbles,” says Wood, who directs Harvard’s Microrobotics Laboratory. “They have the ability to latch onto their neighbors; they have the ability to talk to their neighbors; they have the ability to do some computation. Those are all things that are certainly feasible to think about doing in smaller packages…”
35.    The Human Voice, as Game Changer  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/01/technology/nuance-communications-wants-a-world-of-voice-recognition.html  “…the race is on to make the voice the sought-after new interface between us and our technology. The results could rival innovations like the computer mouse and the graphic icon and…eventually pose challenges for giants like Google by bypassing their traditional search engines. No player is bigger in voice technology than Nuance, of Burlington, Mass., an industry pioneer that has acquired more than 40 companies in the field and today employs 7,300 people…in 2000…Nuance, then known as ScanSoft, went on an aggressive acquisition spree. It bought…Dragon NaturallySpeaking, as well as dozens of small companies that had carved niches in medical dictation, automated voice-response systems and speech research. Its most significant acquisition was Nuance, a rival that had been spun off from S.R.I. International…Nuance reported revenue of about $1.3 billion for 2011, with $515 million of that coming from its health care technology business…Dragon Go is Nuance’s own virtual assistant, an app that has been downloaded several million times…For the most common queries, Dragon Go usually bypasses search engines by taking users directly to Web sites of companies like Amazon, Expedia and OpenTable…The app could be construed as a challenge to the likes of Google and Microsoft, which have their own voice products — such as Google Voice Actions and Microsoft Tellme — as well as search engines…In collaboration with I.B.M., the company is developing analytics to scour the medical notes that doctors dictate after they see patients. The idea is to search the text for common red flags — like medicines that interact dangerously — and automatically alert doctors, hopefully reducing problems and health care costs. Members of US Airways’ frequent-flier program who have registered their mobile phone numbers are greeted by name by “Wally,” an interactive voice system that Nuance created for the airline…Wally, Ms. Hester says, has reduced the number of customers who ask to speak with agents, as well as the average length of customer calls. “Without the system, we would have had to hire a couple hundred more agents,”…Wally, which never lets on that it is an automated system, seems so personable that many people say “thank you” before hanging up…As voice-enabled systems become more sophisticated…they create the illusion that we are interacting with other people, rather than with machines…the systems’ sleekness and ease of use could end up diminishing the value of slower, messier, real human connections…”
36.    Responsive Design: Multi-Device Layout Patterns  http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?1514  “Through fluid grids and media query adjustments, responsive design enables Web page layouts to adapt to a variety of screen sizes. As more designers embrace this technique, we're not only seeing a lot of innovation but the emergence of clear patterns as well. I cataloged what seem to be the most popular of these patterns for adaptable multi-device layouts. To get a sense of emerging responsive design layout patterns, I combed through all the examples curated on the Media Queries gallery site several times. I looked for what high-level patterns showed up most frequently and tried to avoid defining separate patterns where there were only small differences…”
Leisure & Entertainment
37.    Adobe Flash-based mass market games will go 3D in a big way  http://venturebeat.com/2012/03/27/adobe-flash-based-mass-market-games-will-go-3d-in-a-big-way/  “Adobe is about to taking mass market gaming up a notch. The company is introducing a number of high-end gaming features — from 3D graphics to easier mobile porting — today with the launch of version 11.2 of its Flash Player. The company is also launching a partnership with Unity Technologies, maker of the Unity 3D game engine. This means that browser-based games and Facebook titles will be able to take a big leap forward in graphics fidelity…That vast reach is Adobe’s biggest selling point: developers can create one version of a game and reach the most people. In the past, Flash games running on these PCs were two-dimensional and relatively primitive compared to console games with 3D graphics. But the new Flash Player 11.2, which debuted in October and is now being enhanced, now has the option of tapping the 3D graphics hardware in a PC, not just the microprocessor…”
38.    E-books are the fastest-growing area of book sales, especially for youngsters  http://venturebeat.com/2012/03/29/ebook-sales-growth/  “…In January 2011, publishers sold 3.9 million children’s and young adults e-books. One year later, that monthly sales figure is up to a whopping 22.6 million…adult e-books are set to overtake adult paperbacks as the highest volume product for publishers in America…if e-book market growth continues, it will have far outpaced paperbacks to become the number-one category for U.S. publishers…e-books accounted for 31.1 percent of all young adult, children’s, and adult book sales in January 2012, up from 24.8 percent in January 2011…tablet ownership doubled over the holidays — a feat that was in no small part due to the wild success of Amazon’s Kindle Fire. Shortly after Kindle Fire pre-sales began in September 2011, the company announced it was selling the device at a rate of one million units per week…”
39.    The x86 PlayStation 4 could signal a sea-change in the console industry  http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2012/04/the-x86-playstation-4-signals-a-sea-change-in-the-console-industry.ars  “The successor to the PlayStation 3, apparently codenamed "Orbis," will use an AMD x86 processor with an AMD "Southern Islands" GPU, according to rumors emerging last week. Xbox 360's replacement, purported to be named "Durango", is also rumored to use an AMD GPU—either a Southern Islands variant or an equivalent to a Radeon HD 6670—this time paired with a PowerPC CPU…these rumors…if they prove true, the Orbis and Durango will be decidedly mid-range at launch when compared to top-of-the-line PC hardware. The Xbox 360, launched November 2005, and the PlayStation 3, launched November 2006, were both cutting-edge systems at their release. Their capabilities were unmatched by PCs of the time…the (theoretical) CPU performance of the current generation consoles was out of this world when they launched. Their GPUs went toe-to-toe with discrete cards costing as much as the consoles themselves…With neither next-generation console likely to hit the market until 2013 (and probably late 2013 at that), Southern Islands will be the best part of two years old when those systems finally hit…Cutting-edge hardware is expensive to produce. While Microsoft could probably stomach another round of massively subsidized gaming hardware, Sony probably can't…Cutting-edge hardware is also, arguably, pointless for a new console. While PC gamers can always slap on a huge 2560×1600 or 2560×1440 monitor—something that taxes even dual high-end video cards these days—consoles are for the most part limited to the 1920×1080 at 60 Hz that HDTV sets allow for…Contemporary CPUs are already overkill for many games. Developers have struggled to exploit the large numbers of hardware threads that processor designs now support…There are games that can take more advantage of multiple cores, but they're the exception, not the rule. As long as the CPU is at least adequate, the GPU is probably the best place to invest money…”
40.    Galileo lets you remotely pan and tilt an iPhone  http://www.gizmag.com/galileo-pan-tilt-iphone-holder/21962/  “With their built-in cameras, microphones and speakers, iPhones can be very handy for video conferencing. Should you be trying to talk to a boardroom full of people through a phone that’s propped up on the table, however, it can be kind of frustrating – you’re stuck with the stationary shot provided by the phone, and can’t see people who are outside of that shot unless you get someone to move the phone for you. Well, that’s where Galileo comes in. It’s a motorized iPhone holder, that allows a remote user to pan or tilt the phone 360 degrees…Guyot came up with the idea for this latest device when he was trying to have video chats with his son, while away from home…the person receiving the video call would place their phone in the device. The person making the call could then use their iPhone, iPad or web browser to pan or tilt the device, using a touchscreen interface or their mouse…Guyot and Bevirt are currently working on apps that would allow users to program the device to perform complex movements, including ultra-slow ones that could be used for time-lapse videography…Other potential uses include baby monitoring, distance learning, or real estate photography. It includes a software developers kit, so users can incorporate the device into existing apps, or create new apps around it…Guyot and Bevirt are presently raising funds on Kickstarter for the commercial development of their product. They have already exceeded their funding goal, however, so it looks like it should be a go. Pledges can still be made, with a minimum contribution of US$85 getting you a Galileo once they’re shipping. The estimated retail price is $129.95…”
Economy and Technology
41.     How a High School Prank Call Site Turned Into Serious Business  http://mashable.com/2012/04/01/prank-calls-serious-business/  “When Fahim Saleh bought the domain name “prankdial.com,” he fit the demographic one might expect: a high school boy in a small town, an occasional prankster and an Internet geek. The site ran a simple prank call service. Users entered a message, and the computer would call a number of their choice before reading it in a slow, robotic voice. Saleh put the site up, used it a few times, and then pretty much forgot about it while he was at college…When the nearly identical site “prankdialer.com” launched, it inspired Saleh to revive the dinky high school prank site he built on a whim…he reinvented PrankDial, turning it into a profitable business…PrankDial’s iPhone app has been downloaded 500,000 times, and its Android app…was downloaded 4 million times…Saleh — now 25 — has used the prank site’s revenue to found new businesses, relating to everything from Facebook cover photos to iPhone games for kids. “We’re probably the number-one prank anything on the web,” he says. “If you search ‘prank’ or ‘prank calls,’ you get PrankDial or one of our properties.” PrankDial isn’t the only URL that Saleh purchased in high school. Launching websites was something of a habit — and a profitable one. The first site he sold, a resource for instant messenger icons called AIMDude.com, went for $1,200 on eBay…By the time he was 20, the pair had founded a conglomerate of websites called WizTeen, which allowed users to customize their avatars on services such as MySpace, MSN Messenger and AIM (remember them?). At the company’s peak, Saleh says the sites were pulling in $30,000 to $60,000 every month from Google Ads…Five years later, Saleh is in New York, leading a team of 10 who work on PrankDial, as well as a handful of other services under the umbrella company Tapfury. He says he hasn’t sought venture capital because the site has been profitable…”
42.    The 10 Best Startups From Y Combinator Demo Day  http://techcrunch.com/2012/03/27/best-of-y-combinator-demo-day/  “65 startups showed off today at Y Combinator’s Demo Day…TechCrunch…picked these 10 companies as the best…Carsabi:  An evolved search engine for buying used cars. Carsabi aggressively crawls every online car sale listing it can find…It already surfaces more deals than industry leader AutoTrader, and has features that let you sort by the biggest savings, not just lowest price…It’s a huge market, as last year $650 billion was spent on car sales and $3.8 billion on auto ads…Pair : A private social network for couples…Pair lets two people create a private timeline where they share photos, videos, sketches, activities and more…Path founder Dave Morin, who told Pair’s team that Facebook has created social networking’s “cities,” Path is building its “houses,” and Pair is like its “bedroom.”…Priceonomics: An online price guide for anything. Type in anything you want to own and it will tell you how much it should cost, like a Kelly Blue Book for smartphones, laptops, TVs, stereos, etc…Your Mechanic: Aiming to be the “Airbnb of car repair,” Your Mechanic is a website that connects you with the best mechanics in your local community, and commission them to come to your house and fix your car…Sonalight: Touting itself as “Siri on steroids,” Sonalight is an app aimed at letting you send text messages while driving by using just your voice. The app purportedly works even while a phone is your pocket…42Floors: Aiming to be the Trulia for commercial real estate, 42Floors has built a slick website for companies searching for office space…Exec: Ever wish you had your own personal assistant? The Exec app lets you have one at your disposal within ten minutes for $25 an hour…Midnox: They’ve built the Luma, an iPhone app that stabilizes the videos taken with a mobile phone in real time…Crowdtilt: A  simple way for anyone to crowdfund anything. While Kickstarter is great for bigger organizations and startups, Crowdtilt is optimized for groups of friends…iCracked: Chances are, if you’ve owned an iPhone, iPod, or iPad, you’ve either cracked your screen at some point or come perilously close to doing so. iCracked has built a very booming business fixing those problems…”
43.    Millennial Media Valued At Nearly $2 Billion  http://techcrunch.com/2012/03/29/millennial-media-shares-pop-100-percent-in-first-trade-valued-at-nearly-2b/  “Mobile ad network Millennial Media…initially priced its IPO at $13 per share…At $25 per share, Millennial’s valuation jumps to nearly $2 billion. Trading reached as high as $27.90 in early trading. UPDATE: Millennial closed at $25 per share…Millennial, which is one of the largest remaining independent mobile ad networks, currently serves ads to 200 million unique users worldwide, including approximately 100 million unique users in the United States alone. More than 30,000 apps are enabled by developers to receive ads delivered by Millennial. From 2009 to 2010, Millennial’s revenue increased 195% from $16.2 million to $47.8 million, and the company took a net loss of $7.6 million, and $7.1 million, in those years, respectively. From 2010 to 2011, revenue increased 117% from $47.8 million to $103.7 million. In 2011, the company saw a net loss of just $287,000…”
44.    HootSuite Takes A Little Cash Off The Table To ‘De-Risk,’ Aims For Bigger Game  http://blogs.wsj.com/venturecapital/2012/03/29/hootsuite-takes-a-little-cash-off-the-table-to-de-risk-aims-for-bigger-game/  “…HootSuite’s founder, Ryan Holmes, and some of his fellow shareholders are taking money off the table–they sold $20 million worth of shares to OMERS Ventures, an investment arm of one of Canada’s largest pension plans…The company is cash-flow positive…He sold shares, he said, “because I have a vision to build a billion-dollar company…and now I’m a bit de-risked.” Too often in Canada, entrepreneurs are willing to sell their companies at $50 million or $100 million, Holmes said…But for me, I look at this and say it’s a shame, because so many companies that have huge potential get out too early in this scenario.” HootSuite allows organizations to launch marketing campaigns and send targeted messages across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other major social media platforms, combining aspects of email, analytics, support and customer relationship management. The company is now at 140 employees and expects to have 240 by the end of the year. Holmes has had offers to sell HootSuite at $10 million, $40 million and $100 million, and each time he turned them away because each offer was below what he thought the business was worth at the time…”
45.    Pres. Obama to sign JOBS Act on Thursday  http://venturebeat.com/2012/03/31/jobs-act-law/  “A piece of legislation designed to make crowdfunding a legal option for startups will be passed into law as President Barack Obama plans to sign the JOBS Act Thursday…The Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act has already successfully made its way through the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives…and will allow startups raising $1 million or less to let regular Joes and Janes…purchase a limited amount of equity in their nascent businesses…The legislation also eliminates the 500-sharehoulder rule, meaning that startups can wait longer before needing to publicly report financial data to the SEC…”
DHMN Technology
46.    Open source sentry gun means guaranteed paintball victory  http://www.geek.com/articles/geek-cetera/open-source-sentry-gun-means-guaranteed-paintball-victory-20120330/  “…Rudolph Labs’ Project Sentry Gun is a start-to-finish kit for protecting your castle or doing whatever it is people do when they play paintball. Expect to spend about $110 on parts — gun not included — and to learn a whole lot about the Arduino, servos, and software-based target path anticipation. The basic setup is that you have an Arduino doing the controlling, two servos for movement (pan and tilt), a third servo pulling the trigger, a webcam for target detection, a mount of some sort, and then the software. The project includes code for the Arduino…it looks like the tweaking and refinement will be the toughest part of the project because all the code is handled for you and there is pretty extensive documentation on the site, including some rather lengthy video walkthroughs…it’s surprisingly responsive given the lack of custom parts or expensive gear. Apparently using a lightweight gun helps out, as does using a low resolution webcam. That’s right, lower resolution (like 320×240) means that the video can be processed faster, targets can be identified sooner, and the rig can proceed to making its calculations…it has a way aiming where the target will be at the time of impact… otherwise the gun would be useless. Anticipation.pde looks to include some basic code to adjust for the speed and acceleration of the target so the the sentry software can aim properly…”
47.    A Little Device That’s Trying to Read Your Thoughts  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/science/ibrain-a-device-that-can-read-thoughts.html  “…Stephen Hawking last summer donned what looked like a rakish black headband that held a feather-light device the size of a small matchbox. Called the iBrain, this simple-looking contraption is part of an experiment that aims to allow [people] to communicate by merely thinking…the iBrain is gaining attention as a possible alternative to expensive sleep labs that use rubber and plastic caps riddled with dozens of electrodes…The iBrain can collect data in real time in a person’s own bed, or when they’re watching TV, or doing just about anything…The device uses a single channel to pick up waves of electrical brain signals, which change with different activities and thoughts, or with the pathologies that accompany brain disorders…Scientists not connected with Dr. Low say they are encouraged by the iBrain’s potential. “Philip Low’s device is one of the best single-channel brain monitors out there,” said Ruth O’Hara, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University Medical School. She plans to use the iBrain for autism studies…Other companies also make single-channel brain monitors…Zeo, for example, based in Massachusetts, concentrates on measuring sleep patterns through a smartphone app or a clock-radio device…Emotiv Systems, in San Francisco, offers its Epoc headset…plus a range of apps and add-ons…Zeo’s chief executive, Dave Dickinson…added that his company’s customers had logged one million hours of sleep time. He would not say how many devices had been sold. Emotiv was founded in 2003 and has reportedly shipped 10,000 devices…”
48.    World's First Android-Based See-Through Wearable Display (and Parrot AR.Drone hack)  http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/gadgets/1290880/epson-moverio-bt-100  “Epson…Moverio BT-100…Android-powered projector glasses are designed to let you take your films with you on the move and watch them like there's a big-screen TV in front of your eyes…that’s the theory – in reality, the technology has yet to catch up with the promise of wearable TV glasses. The headset has a tiny pico projector built into each arm, pointing inwards towards an angled mirror in each lens which then projects the image in the centre of your vision…spectacle wearers in our office found it uncomfortable to wear…Even those of us with decent vision had to tilt our heads upwards to keep the glasses perched on our heads…The Moverio…doesn’t completely obscure your vision – the dark outer visor is semi-transparent, letting you see your surroundings…in practice, watching dark films against a bright background can make it difficult to pick out any detail whatsoever…there are several major issues with the Moverio in its current form…poor file format support is almost unforgivable – even though 1080p playback is possible, the unit only supports MPEG-4 files in MP3 format…you do get a browser, which lets you browse the web using the unit's built in Wi-Fi. There are no video inputs on the control box, preventing you from playing video from a third-party source…Image quality was reasonable, with the two projectors' 960×540 images looking like a large TV in front of you…3D video was less impressive – depth effects weren’t as immersive as on a TV or projector, despite being much closer to your face…the Moverio headset should last long enough to play back two or three films, but little more. Epson expects it to appeal to business travellers that prefer to watch films in private…”  http://www.engadget.com/2012/03/09/parrot-ar-drone-joins-forces-with-epson-moverio-bt-100-video/  “…if your interest in the Parrot AR.Drone has begun to wane, then take a gander at this bit of handiwork from Thomas Sohmers and dream of what could be. Essentially, he's taken the popular UAV from Parrot and has combined it with a transparent, head-mounted display that allows one to simultaneously view the AR.Drone and an overlay of its video feed. More than just a set of glasses, the Epson Moverio BT-100 was ideal for the task as it also features a handheld controller that just so happens to run Android. While Sohmers has met with good success in combining the two devices, the product isn't quite ready for mass consumption -- for example, it's said the AR.Drone can only rotate and move vertically at this point…”
49.    Design and print your own robot  http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/print-your-own-robots-0403.html  “MIT is leading an ambitious new project to reinvent how robots are designed and produced. Funded by a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the project will aim to develop a desktop technology that would make it possible for the average person to design, customize and print a specialized robot in a matter of hours…The five-year project, called “An Expedition in Computing for Compiling Printable Programmable Machines,” brings together a team of researchers from MIT, the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University…It currently takes years to produce, program and design a functioning robot, and is an extremely expensive process, involving hardware and software design, machine learning and vision, and advanced programming techniques. The new project would automate the process of producing functional 3-D devices and allow individuals to design and build functional robots from materials as easily accessible as a sheet of paper…”
Open Source Hardware
50.    Open source "tricorders": handheld sensor packages for everyone  http://boingboing.net/2012/03/29/open-source-tricorders-ha.html  “For the past five years, Peter Jansen, a Canadian scientist whose PhD is in neural computation and cognitive modelling, has been developing a series of open source hardware "tricorders" -- handheld sensor packages running GNU/Linux that can be used by everyday people to make and record observations about the world around them. There are several versions of the tricorder, some with sensors attached (atmospheric, electromagnetic, spatial), others that are "blank," with places to mount your own sensors…The devices we build are meant to be as inexpensive as possible, so folks might have access to them without having to worry about the cost, or their difficulty of use. My hope is that someday every household — and every child who wants one — might have access to a small device that can easily be kept close in a pocket or bag, and quickly pulled out when curiosity strikes…It's possible that the same instrument that can show a child how much chlorophyll is in a leaf could also show how them much pollution is in the air around us…As an educator and a researcher, I feel that if people could easily discover things about their worlds that were also important social topics, that they would then make positive social choices…Most of all, the Tricorder is designed to discover things that we don't already know…”
51.     Raspberry Pi’s Gertboard expansion kit gets revised  http://www.geek.com/articles/chips/raspberry-pis-gertboard-expansion-kit-gets-revised-20120326/  “The Raspberry Pi Foundation gave a surprise announcement last year when we were building up to the launch of the $25 PC. As well as the tiny PC, we’d also have the chance to purchase an expansion board to use with it called the Gertboard. It was originally thought the Gertboard would launch alongside the Raspberry Pi, but that…didn’t happen. With so many people still waiting for the PC to arrive though, delaying the Gertboard makes little difference…Where as the Raspberry Pi offers up a fully functional PC, the Gertboard extends it to allow you to power motors, flash a set of LEDs, or hook up any number of different sensors…”
52.    Shapeoko Open Source CNC Mill Kits  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/inventables-announces-availability-of-open-source-cnc-mill-kits-new-kits-enable-affordable-diy-manufacturing-2012-04-02  “Inventables, Inc. today announced the launch of Shapeoko, the world’s first CNC milling machine kit capable of creating precision parts and models from plastic, wood and metal for less than $650. Inventors and designers can use the Shapeoko, an open source, low-cost desktop computer numerical control (CNC) mill, to bring their imagination and computer designs to life…we are seeing the rebirth of American manufacturing as manufacturing tools become dramatically less expensive. The combination of free, easily accessible open-source software and online storefronts like Amazon, eBay and Etsy providing a marketplace for manufactured goods is fueling this growth in manufacturing and entrepreneurism.” Inventables offers three Shapeoko kits (Mechanical, Full and Premium), each of which requires assembly. The Mechanical kit, which costs $199, is designed for experienced CNC machine builders who will add electronics and modify the kit to get it running and suit their needs. The Full kit, which costs $649, includes everything necessary to create a working machine, including tools and electrical components…The Premium kit includes the Full kit as well as materials and milling bits for machining parts. The Premium kit was designed for people who are comfortable rolling up their sleeves to complete the build and want all the materials and tools needed to use the machine included in one kit. This $999 kit includes markers and card stock that can replace the milling bits while operators learn how to use the CNC mill and software. This technique allows learning without the risk of injury from the high speeds of the spindle…”  https://www.inventables.com/technologies/cnc-mill-kits-shapeoko
Open Source
53.    SSH Tunneling - Poor Techie's VPN  http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/ssh-tunneling-poor-techies-vpn  “…SSH tunneling actually can be very valuable use for both techies and home users. I say contrary to popular belief because 'reverse tunneling' and tunneling http traffic through SSH can bypass firewalls and content filters. But this article isn't about how to violate your corporate internet use policy, it's about how to create SSH tunnels to make your life just a little bit easier. Why SSH Tunnels instead of VPN? Well, I actually use both at home…But if I want to check on one of my servers from the house via my Android, or a computer where I don't have administrative rights…then SSH is my backup to using VPN. What I'll cover here today is just your basics: how to create tunnels, what the syntax means, examples of reverse tunnels and why would you use each one of them. I'll briefly go over ssh_config, but a more in-depth post on custom ssh_config's will be at a later date…Oh yes it's time for my favorite part of SSH tunneling. Sure, getting access to a service from behind SSH is nice, so is tunneling your web traffic through encrypted SSH tunnels. But the real surprise comes when you…reverse the tunnel…What do I use it for? From time to time against a server, or even with friends and family with reverse VNC sessions via SSH tunnels. In this case they execute a putty saved session that logs into my ssh server as a certain user with no rights. Once the tunnel is established, I can vnc to their machine in order to remote to them. No more having them setup their firewall, or figure out log-me-in, or any of those other websites…”
54.    7 Essential Free Linux Speech Tools  http://www.linuxlinks.com/article/20120331032730675/SpeechTools.html  “…This article identifies the finest open source speech synthesizers that are available for the Linux platform…Although this article focuses on open source software, we would take this opportunity to mention the IVONA Text to Speech System, software that is compatible with Linux. IVONA is an incredibly impressive text-to-speech system, generating exceptionally natural sounding voices. Unfortunately, the software is released under a proprietary license. Whilst its open source competitors, eSpeak, Festival, and Praat Speech Analyser, sound somewhat robotic in comparison with the human-sounding IVONA, they do provide clear audio with text documents…we have compiled a list of 7 of the finest speech tools covering the spectrum of speech synthesizers, speech recognition software, speech recognition engines, and speech analysis…eSpeak…Simon…Julius... Jovie…Orca Screen Reader…Praat Speech Analyser…Festival…”
55.     Yahoo Open-Sources Mojito JavaScript Framework  http://venturebeat.com/2012/04/02/yahoo-node-open-source-mojito/  “…Yahoo is open-sourcing Mojito, a bit of software that uses JavaScript and Node.js to run a single codebase on both the client and server side. Mojito is one of a few Node-centric projects Yahoo’s been brewing. Collectively called Cocktails, they embrace cutting-edge technologies and platforms in a way that is surprising if you haven’t been following developer news from Yahoo over the past couple of years. Yahoo started dabbling in Cocktails a while ago. Bruno Fernandez-Ruiz, Yahoo’s platform vice president, has called Cocktails “a bunch of tricks to make web applications feel native…”
Civilian Aerospace
56.    Space exploration and the culture of innovation  http://blog.sfgate.com/tmiller/2012/03/28/space-exploration-and-the-culture-of-innovation-an-interview-with-neil-degrasse-tyson/  “…America’s golden age of space exploration in the 1960s fostered a culture of innovation that helped propel its leading edge economy…the greatest value of space exploration lies in its capacity to inspire a nation to embrace science…many of our greatest accomplishments in space have not been motivated by a desire to increase our knowledge…Instead, fear actually seems to be the driving force…War…motivated the Great Wall of China.  Our space program was reactive to Russia…many people have cleansed that memory and think of it as a time of great exploration and discovery…But if you don’t understand the motivation for it, you won’t understand then why it all came to an end.  When we went to the moon and realized that the Soviet Union had no realistic plans of getting to the moon, then we stopped going to the moon…The history of exploration has never been driven by exploration. Columbus himself was a discoverer…But the people who wrote checks were not.  They had other motivations…Was anyone complaining about jobs going overseas in the 1960s and ’70s?  I don’t remember that. We were innovating and when you innovate no one else can figure out how to do what you’re doing because you’re too far ahead of them.  And the day they do figure out, you’re on to the…next concept in innovation…so we’ve benefited economically from the space race even though it was driven by military…I’m talking about the kind of innovation that everybody participates in, even when you’re not a scientist or engineer.  You could be a poet, an artist, a comedian…And science discoveries don’t scare you…The most creative people are motivated by the grandest of problems…That’s why when you have big, grand visions advancing a frontier, innovation is a daily phenomenon in that business.  And you’re presenting some of the most motivated, smart people in the landscape with the grandest of challenges for them to figure out…So I see all this talk about jobs going overseas as a symptom of the absence of innovation.  And the absence of innovation is a symptom of there being no major national priority to advance a frontier…asteroids come in all shapes and sizes…Apophis is the size of the Rose Bowl…about 300 meters across.  And it’s on a near collision course with Earth.  In 2029, on April 13th (Friday the 13th), it’ll come closer to Earth’s surface than our orbiting communication satellites…it could be the largest, closest thing ever to come by in recorded history…in the era of telescopes and the knowledge of space, this is the largest ever.  Its path crosses the orbit of the Earth and you want it to cross the orbit at a time when Earth is not in the same place at the same time…And depending on its exact trajectory which currently accounts for our uncertainty in whether or not it’ll hit, seven years later – also on April 13th – when it again crosses Earth’s orbit…” [so this article causes me to hope China lands makes good progress toward landing on the moon and makes me look forward to 2029 – ed.]
57.     Deep Space Habitat module concepts outlined for BEO exploration  http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/03/dsh-module-concepts-outlined-beo-exploration/  “With the push for exploration Beyond Earth Orbit (BEO) increasing, a proposed habitat for human exploration outside the confines of Earth’s immediate space is taking shape…with the development of its new Deep Space Habitat (DSH) – a module-based habitation facility that will be used as part of manned exploration missions…With an initial size capable of accommodating four (4) crewmembers for a 60-day mission…the DSH will carry the capability of expanding to a 500-day configuration…For 60-day missions, the DSH could be utilized by a crew of four astronauts for Earth-Moon Lagrangian Point 1 (EM L1) missions, EM L2 missions, GEO satellite servicing missions, ES (Earth-Sun) L2 missions, Lunar orbit missions, and microgravity free-flyer missions…the 500-day missions of the DSH would see a crew of four astronauts use the complex for Near Earth Asteroid missions and Mars transit and orbital missions…the DSH will need to have an ECLSS (Environmental Control and Life Support Systems)…The ECLSS will provide 21 days of “open-loop contingency margin on consumables (food, water, O2) for the 60-day mission and 60 days contingency for the 500-day mission.”…For crew safety and protection, external Micrometeoroid Debris Protection Shields (MDPS) will be installed…an interior radiation water wall will be incorporated in the DHS HAB design to protect crews from Solar Particle Events…”
58.    Getting to the moon on drops of fuel  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120329101802.htm  “Imagine reaching the Moon using just a fraction of a liter of fuel. With their ionic motor, MicroThrust, EPFL scientists and their European partners are making this a reality and ushering in a new era of low-cost space exploration. The complete thruster weighs just a few hundred grams and is specifically designed to propel small (1-100 kg) satellites, which it enables to change orbit around Earth and even voyage to more distant destinations -- functions typically possible only for large, expensive spacecraft…The motor, designed to be mounted on satellites as small as 10x10x10 cm3, is extremely compact but highly efficient. The prototype weighs only about 200 grams, including the fuel and control electronics…the new mini motor runs on an "ionic" liquid…ions are extracted from the liquid and then ejected by means of an electric field to generate thrust…the flow of ions is emitted from an array of tiny silicon nozzles -- over 1,000 per square centimeter…the ions are…extracted by an electrode held at 1,000 volts, accelerated, and finally emitted out the back of the satellite…After six months of acceleration, the microsatellite's speed increases from 24,000 km/h, its launch speed, to 42,000 km/h…The ionic motor will power CleanSpace One -- a nanosatellite whose mission is to tidy up space by grabbing space debris and pulling it into Earth's atmosphere to be safely incinerated. According to the Swiss Space Center, CleanSpace One will take two to three months and more than 1,000 terrestrial revolutions to reach one of its targets, the decommissioned…Tlsat-1 cubesat…”
Supercomputing & GPUs
59.    University of Bristol to Take Part in New Supercomputing Center  http://www.hpcwire.com/hpcwire/2012-03-26/university_of_bristol_to_take_part_in_new_supercomputing_center.html  “The University of Bristol is to play a key role in a new £3.7million regional center for supercomputing, which looks set to revolutionize research into important areas such as climate change, drug design and aerospace engineering…Supercomputers are seen as the “third pillar” of modern research and are used in areas such as quantum physics, weather forecasting, climate research, oil and gas exploration, molecular modelling, finance, engineering and manufacturing…Its funding will allow two significant HPC systems to be procured by the center. A 12,000 core Intel Westmere system…can carry out more than 115 trillion calculations per second. A second system, utilising NVIDIA’s Tesla accelerator technology…will be capable of 247 trillion calculations per second…“The exciting new GPGPU based system will be the second largest of its kind in Europe and will put the University firmly at the forefront of accelerated HPC research."…Researchers…are searching for anti-cancer drugs that will prevent secondary tumours developing from breast cancer. By using computer simulation to screen for suitable compounds, rather than undertaking exhaustive screening processes in the laboratory, the most promising compounds can be identified more quickly and become the focus of further research…”
60.    NVIDIA GPUs Power Top Two Russian Supercomputers  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nvidia-gpus-power-top-two-russian-supercomputers-also-selected-to-boost-nations-space-programs-2012-03-27  “…the two most powerful supercomputers in Russia will use NVIDIA GPUs to address some of the world's most challenging scientific problems across a broad range of fields…the new Russia Top 50 supercomputer list released today reveals that the top two systems are accelerated by NVIDIA Tesla GPUs…GPUs are accelerating 12 of the country's top 50 systems -- up from seven just six months ago…From Cancer Research to Space Exploration Russian scientists are using NVIDIA Tesla GPUs to accelerate scientific research and discovery for a range of important research projects today, and plan to increase the number GPU-accelerated projects in the future. For example, researchers at IMM UB RAS plan to harness their computational power to accelerate algorithms designed to navigate the Soyuz-2-class carrier rocket, determining an optimal orbit trajectory and ensuring a safe arrival at the target orbit. Researchers at the Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences are using NVIDIA GPUs to run their optic biomedicine diagnostic method, which is aimed at facilitating early detection of cancer, 100 times faster than on a CPU-based system. Researchers at OJSC "Aviadvigatel" are using NVIDIA GPUs for acoustic noise generation modeling of aircraft engines. By adding NVIDIA GPUs to a CPU-based system, Aviadvigatel reduced the computational time required to run flow modeling simulations from a month to just three days, enabling more complex and accurate simulations. Armed with this information, Aviadvigatel is working to produce quieter, more efficient aircraft engine designs…”

*****

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