2012/06/05

NEW NET Weekly List for 05 Jun 2012

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 05 Jun 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 participants at last week's NEW NET meeting felt a periodic focus-topic would be something worth trying for NEW NET meetings. The initial approach will be to do a focus-topic discussion at the NEW NET meetings on the first Tuesday of each month. We can continue the focus-topic discussion on the second Tuesday if NEW NET participants find the discussion useful and want to learn more about the topic. This week's discussion will be about "GoogleSuite: The Google Consumer Software Stack."

The ‘net
1.        U.N. takeover of the Internet must be stopped, U.S. warns  http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-57444629-83/u.n-takeover-of-the-internet-must-be-stopped-u.s-warns/  “A U.N. summit later this year in Dubai could lead to a new international regime of censorship, taxes, and surveillance, warn Democrats, Republicans, the Internet Society, and father of the Internet Vint Cerf. Democratic and Republican government officials warned this morning that a United Nations summit in December will lead to a virtual takeover of the Internet if proposals from China, Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are adopted…a proposal that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin described last year as handing the U.N. "international control of the Internet"…Robert McDowell, a member of the Federal Communications Commission, elaborated by saying proposals foreign governments have pitched to him personally would "use international mandates to charge certain Web destinations on a 'per-click' basis to fund the build-out of broadband infrastructure across the globe." "Google, iTunes, Facebook, and Netflix are mentioned most often as prime sources of funding,"…a Dubai summit…will be convened by the 193 members of the U.N.'s International Telecommunications Union…the summit will review a set of telecommunications regulations established in 1988…That review has created an opening for countries with a weak appreciation of free speech and civil liberties -- with Russia and China in the lead -- to propose the U.N. establish an new "information security" regime…ITU Secretary General Yoshio Utsumi criticized the current ICANN-dominated process, stressing that poorer nations are dissatisfied and are hoping to erode U.S. influence…In 2008…the ITU was quietly drafting technical standards, proposed by the Chinese government, to define methods of tracing the original source of Internet communications and potentially curbing the ability of users to remain anonymous…Vint Cerf, Google's chief Internet evangelist, co-creator of the TCP/IP protocol, and former chairman of ICANN, said…"The open Internet has never been at a higher risk than it is now…”
2.       Netflix Rolls Out Its Own CDN: Open Connect  http://techcrunch.com/2012/06/04/netflix-open-connect/  “Netflix announced…a new content delivery network of its own, called Open Connect, which will reduce its costs of delivery and could improve delivery of its content. But Open Connect isn’t just about reducing its reliance on third-party CDNs like Akamai, Limelight, and Level 3 — by connecting directly with ISPs, Netflix could improve the relationships it has network operators. Through Open Connect, ISPs can choose to peer directly with Netflix at one of eight settlement-free peering exchanges. Or, if they want to, they can install one of Netflix’s Open Connect appliances into their own network. That would allow them to cache the content locally so that it doesn’t have to be transferred over the network whenever it’s requested…network optimization vendor Sandvine estimates that approximately one-third of all peak network traffic comes from broadband users streaming Netflix…A few years ago, Comcast and Level 3 got into a spat over a peering exchange. At issue in that debate was the large amount of Netflix traffic that Level 3 was delivering into the Comcast network…While Open Connect is good news for Netflix and (potentially) good news for ISPs, the big losers will be the third-party CDNs that Netflix today employs to deliver the bulk of its traffic…”
3.       Microsoft Making ‘Do Not Track’ Default for IE 10  http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/05/ie10-do-not-track/  “Microsoft announced Thursday that the next version of its browser, IE 10, will ship with the controversial “Do Not Track” feature turned on by default, a first among major browsers, creating a potential threat to online advertising giants. That includes one of Microsoft’s chief rivals — Google…Do Not Track doesn’t attempt to block cookies — instead it sends a message to every website you visit saying you prefer not to be tracked. That flag is currently optional for sites and web advertising firms to obey…Google has a thriving ad display business that uses the kind of tracking cookies that Do Not Track would block, though Google denies that’s why it opposed DNT early on. Microsoft’s third-party ad network is tiny in comparison — making the choice not too hard for the company to make…the change could backfire by undermining the loose coalition working to create a standard, in the web’s usual, messy, multi-stakeholder way…The move comes in the midst of…wrangling at the W3C over what “tracking” and “Do Not Track” actually mean…for instance, how does it affect popular analytics programs and third-party plug-ins? Would a news site be able to track what users do on its own site? Does the flag mean “don’t collect information” or “don’t use the information to show targeted ads”…Brookman points out that years ago Apple set the default on the Safari browser to block third-party cookies, a far stronger protection against behavioral ad tracking cookies than Do Not Track, and that there’s a huge number of advertisements that aren’t based on tracking — they instead are based off the content of the page or the site the ads are displayed on…”
4.       Don’t Know How To Code? Use Scroll Kit To Build Your Next Website  http://techcrunch.com/2012/06/05/dont-know-how-to-code-use-scroll-kit-to-build-your-next-website/  “So this thing called the Internet makes it easy for pretty much anyone to have a voice and get messages across. The problem is that building beautiful, intuitive websites typically requires some knowledge of code…Scroll Kit is trying to change that, with an intuitive web app that allows anyone to build compelling experiences with no background knowledge necessary. Scroll Kit provides users with what’s basically an empty canvas on which they can place anything — text, pictures, whatever — and with one click publish it to the web. The product goes beyond most WYSIWYG web editors, allowing users to control pretty much every pixel of a page and rearrange page elements at will. While the tool proves that you don’t need to know how to code to build something beautiful, the real point is to show that even if you do know how to code, that doesn’t mean you will be able to build a great website…The two-person team, made up of Cody Brown and Kate Ray, basically issued a manifesto today on how the future of the web should be accessible to anyone. The three key tenets: providing an open canvas for development, letting users get feedback from people they know, and allowing people to “play” — that is, making website building actually fun…Everything that gets published is hosted by Scroll Kit, and the team continues to add new features. Those include custom domains — so that users can host their creations on their own URLs — as well as embeddable videos, and the ability for users to draw their own images. The service is essentially free, but Scroll Kit plans to make money by charging for additional features…”  https://www.scrollkit.com/
5.        Smarterer shows job candidates skills, not resumes  http://techcrunch.com/2012/06/05/smarterer-series-a/  “There’s plenty of noise today in job forums, and resumes have never seemed so ineffective. As more and more people enter the workplace, with a variety of backgrounds and skill sets that may seem misleadingly similar on paper, employers have to find new, smarter ways to find the right candidates…Smarterer believes it has the solution. The company’s platform provides job searchers with a simple, gamified way to show employers what they know by taking quizzes in subjects that range from engineering to music. Smarterer then crowdsources its test designs and employs a smart ranking system to give job searchers a score and allows them to broadcast their successes to the world…“Skill Sets,”…allows companies to offer Smarterer quizzes as part of their online job applications, enabling hiring managers to then use the startup’s tools to further validate a candidate’s skills…Today, the startup offers more than 500 skills, and its community has now answered over 10 million questions…Its Excel test, for example, has seen more than 1 million answers, with users spending the equivalent of 176 days answering questions about Excel…The other key to the startup’s platform is its ranking system, which is based on Glicko — the same rating system used to qualify chess masters — and allows the platform to learn with each question you answer, enhancing the algorithm’s ability to measure the difficulty of the questions and, in turn, your skills…The startup will also be leveraging partnerships with applicant tracking system The Resumator and social recruiting platform Bullhorn Reach to help make hiring less of a pain…it’s also partnering with About.me so that users can link their Smarterer profiles to their About.me pages to keep their preferred online tools and networks all in one place…”
Security, Privacy & Digital Controls
6.       Judge rules Oracle’s Java APIs not copyrightable, Google owes Oracle nada  http://money.cnn.com/2012/05/31/technology/google-oracle-patents/  “Google will not have to pay Oracle anything for violating 37 Java copyrights, because they are not copyrightable, a federal judge ruled Thursday. The ruling -- the final verdict in a landmark patent court case between two Silicon Valley titans -- affirms the industry's long-held belief that certain key bits of software code that help applications talk to one another are fair game for anyone to use…Android originally used several lines of code that Sun had written for Java. That code, called application programming interfaces or APIs, are essentially a way for apps to communicate with the operating system. Since Java is an open-source software, its APIs are generally free and available for public use. Judge William Alsup ruled Thursday that those APIs are not copyrightable because they are so basic and fundamental…” [yay, Google! A lot of people in Silicon Valley breathed a sigh of relief when it was ruled that APIs aren’t copyrightable – ed.]
7.        Apple's Crystal Prison and the Future of Open Platforms   https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/05/apples-crystal-prison-and-future-open-platforms  “Two weeks ago, Steve Wozniak made a public call for Apple to open its platforms for those who wish to tinker, tweak and innovate with their internals. EFF supports Wozniak's position: while Apple's products have many virtues, they are marred by an ugly set of restrictions on what users and programmers can do with them. This is most especially true of iOS, though other Apple products sometimes suffer in the same way. In this article we will delve into the kinds of restrictions that Apple, phone companies, and Microsoft have been imposing on mobile computers; the excuses these companies make when they impose these restrictions; the dangers this is creating for open innovation; why Apple in particular should lead the way in fixing this mess…Apple's recent products, especially their mobile iOS devices, are like beautiful crystal prisons, with a wide range of restrictions imposed by the OS, the hardware, and Apple's contracts with carriers as well as contracts with developers. Only users who can hack or "jailbreak" their devices can escape these limitations…Apple did not invent the culture of imposing restrictions on what kinds of programs people could run on the computers in their pockets. Mobile phone manufacturers and carriers were making life miserable for programmers long before Apple entered the smartphone market, and writing code for phones in those days was described as "a tarpit of misery, pain, and destruction"…Nor is Apple necessarily the leading culprit in anti-competitive OS design today. AT&T, which not only encourages Apple's restrictiveness, but also distributes its own modified and heavily restricted versions of the Android operating system, might even be the worse actor…”
8.       Police say 'First Amendment rights can be terminated': When cops, cameras don't mix  http://redtape.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/01/11998060-first-amendment-rights-can-be-terminated-when-cops-cameras-dont-mix  “The video is chilling, but it's also a sign of the times. "Your First Amendment rights can be terminated," yells the Chicago police officer, caught on video right before arresting two journalists outside a Chicago hospital.  One, an NBC News photographer, was led away in handcuffs essentially for taking pictures in a public place…Chicago cops suffered an embarrassing "caught on tape" moment…Tales of reporters, protestors and citizen journalists being threatened or arrested for filming law enforcement officials during disputes are on the rise…The National Press Photographers Association claims it has documented 70 such arrests since September and, in May, called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to focus attention on the issue…Such allegations are ironic, given the sharp rise in police surveillance technology, which gives cops vast capabilities to film citizens…Americans are photographed more and more today as they walk around in public spaces…And it is ironic that law enforcement agencies are objecting when the same activity is being used to film their activities…half of U.S. adults carry smartphones, nearly all of them capable of filming and sharing visuals instantly with the whole world via the Internet…First Amendment law is clear: Citizens in public spaces have a right to film things they see in plain sight. Courts have repeatedly upheld that right in high-profile cases. Court rulings sometimes have no bearing during intense situations, however…The proliferation of devices that can film and share has made this conflict almost inevitable…The most celebrated case involves Simon Glik, who in 2007 filmed police arresting a homeless man near Boston Commons. Glick was arrested and charged with violating the state's wiretapping law.  His case was dismissed, but he then brought a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city. In August 2011, the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled unanimously in his favor…That decision is 24 pages of pure gold," Osterreicher said.  "The judges talked about the right to record in public. They said the First Amendment right is self-evident. They took judicial notice of the fact that news is as likely to come from someone with a cellphone as anyone. And they talked about the fact that police officers … should expect to be recorded when out in public."…One rule that is fairly absolute, he said: While there are situations when police can seize cameras and cellphones, they have no right to destroy data, such as pictures or videos, without consent from the owner.  In fact, doing so could be considered destruction of evidence…”
9.       Did US and Israel create Stuxnet, lose control of it?  http://www.digitalbond.com/2012/06/01/ny-times-historical-fiction-on-stuxnet/  “The NY Times published an enhanced excerpt from David Sangers’ new book Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power. The long article focuses on the US and Israeli efforts to use Stuxnet to delay the Iranian nuclear program…The article is plausible in most aspects and could be highly accurate. It is what most people have speculated has happened. In fact, it is very similar to what I would have produce if asked to write a story of what happened.  Unfortunately there is not a single named source, provided document or other hard evidence. This account…is based on interviews over the past 18 months with current and former American, European and Israeli officials…None would allow their names to be used…It is understandably difficult to get anyone on the record about such sensitive information, but there should have been some document or other hard evidence available over an 18 month research effort…media does not have a good track record of using unnamed sources in ICS security reporting…they…talk to a lot of smart and connected people, and if they get enough to speculate the same thing happened, treat it as fact…Unfortunately, once it appears in the NY Times it is treated as fact…In this case, there is something very wrong with the idea that Stuxnet got out of Natanz because of an error in the code…The propagation was clearly not an “error in the code”. One of the impressive features about Stuxnet was its ability to propagate in many ways and stay present. The creators likely wanted it to infect whatever it ran across just in case the target changed the workstations or the intel was wrong…It was not an error. At this point we have to treat the Stuxnet items in this article and book as historical fiction.”  http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/06/confirmed-us-israel-created-stuxnet-lost-control-of-it/  “…An in-depth report today from the New York Times…finally lays bare the history and development of the Stuxnet virus—and how it accidentally escaped from the Iranian nuclear facility that was its target. The article is adapted from journalist David Sanger's forthcoming book, Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, and it confirms that both the US and Israeli governments developed and deployed Stuxnet. The goal of the worm was to break Iranian nuclear centrifuge equipment by issuing specific commands to the industrial control hardware responsible for their spin rate. By doing so, both governments hoped to set back the Iranian research program…”
10.     Flame malware hijacks Windows Update, uses rogue Microsoft certificate  http://arstechnica.com/security/2012/06/flame-malware-hijacks-windows-update-to-propogate/  “The Flame espionage malware targeting Iranian computers contains code that can completely hijack the Windows update mechanism that Microsoft uses to distribute security patches to hundreds of millions of its users…By exploiting weaknesses in Microsoft's Terminal Server product—and poor key-management decisions made by Microsoft engineers—the Flame architects were able produce cryptographic seals falsely certifying that their malicious wares had been produced by Microsoft…Company officials have yet to acknowledge the susceptibility of the update process or to provide guidance for customers whose networks may already be compromised…Flame attackers have been using the same fraudulent Microsoft certificates to spoof the company's widely used Windows update mechanism…"Having a Microsoft code signing certificate is the Holy Grail of malware writers," Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer of antivirus provider F-Secure, blogged on Monday…A separate blog post published Monday by Symantec researchers further catalogs the enormous data collection capabilities of Flame. The sheer breadth of functionality and size sets it apart," Symantec researchers wrote. "Even describing it as an industrial vacuum cleaner does not do it justice."…Microsoft is using its emergency update process to push a patch that mitigates a Windows threat that can hijack the emergency update process…”  http://www.securelist.com/en/blog/208193540/The_Roof_Is_on_Fire_Tackling_Flames_C_C_Servers  “…Kaspersky Lab has been closely monitoring the C&C infrastructure of Flame. In collaboration with GoDaddy and OpenDNS, we succeeded in sinkholing most of the malicious domains used by Flame for C&C…Our findings from analysing the infrastructure can be found below…it’s interesting to point out a big difference from Duqu: while all the Duqu C&C proxies were CentOS Linux hosts, all of the known Flame C&C are running Ubuntu… over 80 different domains…appear to belong to the Flame C&C infrastructure. The Flame C&C domains were registered with an impressive list of fake identities and with a variety of registrars, going back as far as 2008. In general, each fake identity registered only 2-3 domains… During the past 4 years, servers hosting the Flame C&C infrastructure moved between Hong Kong, Turkey, Germany, Poland, Malaysia, Latvia, Switzerland, to name just a few…we contacted GoDaddy and sought the redirection of all the malware domains to our sinkhole…the OpenDNS security team supported with the redirection of malicious domains to our sinkhole in order to protect OpenDNS users…The vast majority of Flame infections are machines running Windows 7 32 bit. Windows XP is following next…Flame does not run on Windows 7 64 bit, which we previously recommended as a good solution against infections with other malware…the attackers seem to have a high interest in AutoCAD drawings…it is known AutoCAD drawings were also targeted by the Duqu malware. In addition to DWG files, which is the native file format of AutoCAD, the malware goes through PDF and text files and other documents and makes short text summaries. It also hunts for e-mails and many different kinds of other “interesting” (high-value) files that are specified in the malware configuration…the data uploaded to the sinkhole is split into packets of 8192 bytes. This is probably done for error recovery -- it is known that the Internet in Middle East countries is very slow and unreliable. Another interesting feature of Flame is the use of SSH connections to exfiltrate data…when the Internet works, but the C&C servers are not reachable via SSL, it uses a SSH connection instead…The Flame command-and-control infrastructure, which had been operating for years, went offline immediately after our disclosure of the malware’s existence last week…” [if you’re interested in how modern malware works, the SecureList.com post is a great read; the person/organization that ran Flame is pretty impressive and makes me wonder what similar extensive preparations and malice aforethought have been put in place over the last five to ten years and are currently being deployed – ed.]
11.      Facebook cryptic about its outage  http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57445588-93/why-is-facebook-so-cryptic-about-its-outage/  “When Facebook goes down or has performance hiccups, as it did Thursday afternoon, many of the 900 million-plus inhabitants of its virtual world feel the pain. So do those who are depending on the social network to ring their cash registers and drive their marketing efforts. It appears that Facebook isn't keen on sharing the details with it constituents regarding what brought the site to its knees yesterday…Essentially, Facebook is a service provider, and it has an implicit contract, or covenant, with its customers: We give you Facebook for free…and you let us monetize your personal data. If people don't want to share their data with Facebook, no one is forcing them to join the Facebook family…But so far, Facebook has not been very open about the specifics that led to the site having serious performance problems for a few hours on Thursday afternoon. "Yesterday some users briefly experienced issues loading the site. The issues have since been resolved and everyone should now have access to Facebook…said Facebook spokesperson Michael Kirkland…”
12.     Ford’s ‘Sync’ Driving Data to Provide Insurance Discounts  http://www.wired.com/autopia/2012/05/ford-sync-insurance/  “State Farm is expanding its Drive Safe and Save usage-based insurance program to include cars equipped with Ford’s Sync telematics system. Also known as “pay as you go,” usage-based insurance programs look at how many miles drivers put on their cars and calculate premiums accordingly. Drivers willing to share how many miles they’ve traveled could get discounts…Because Sync’s Vehicle Health Report already keeps track of a car’s mileage, Sync-equipped vehicles from model years after 2009 are ready to report verified odometer readings to State Farm to calculate possible premium discounts…In cars without compatible in-vehicle telematics systems, State Farm requires a driver to plug a data recorder into a car’s OBD II diagnostic port, which then sends mileage reports back to the insurance company…The Sync partnership marks a significant opportunity for the growth of usage-based insurance, which in addition to State Farm includes Progressive’s Snapshot. Thanks to the increasing number of vehicles on the road with sophisticated telematics systems, it’s becoming easier and easier for insurers to gain access to individual vehicle use data…What insurers can and will do with that data depends on what state laws allow and what law enforcement requires…State Farm and Progressive…told us that their programs are strictly opt-in, they don’t track vehicle location data, and the information they do collect remains heavily encrypted and would not be sold to a third party…”
Mobile Computing & Communicating
13.     iPhone goes prepaid in the US via Leap/Cricket  http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/05/iphone-officially-goes-prepaid-in-the-us-via-cricket/  “Leap Wireless announced…its Cricket prepaid wireless carrier will begin offering the "first" prepaid iPhone option in the US on June 22…Cricket offers a $55 per month, no-contract plan which includes "unlimited" calls, texts, and data…customers will be able to buy an 8GB iPhone 4 for $400, or a 16GB iPhone 4S for $500—a bit less than the no-contract phones offered by AT&T…Since Cricket's network is based on CDMA, however, you must buy an iPhone directly from them to use their service…Cricket's $55 per month plan for the iPhone 4 and 4S is a pretty good deal…But…after you go through 2.3GB, your data will be throttled…”
14.     Hotspot Shield lets your Android surf safely over public Wi-Fi  http://gigaom.com/mobile/hotspot-shield-lets-your-android-surf-safely-over-public-wi-fi/  “…AnchorFree’s Hotspot Shield app…is a multi-purpose utility, combining VPN web browsing with anti-malware and broadband data compression. Normally, I’m not a fan of security focused software; I generally find that if you’re smart about what you install and where you surf online, your risk of infection is fairly minimal. But given how open the Android Market is…I don’t think such solutions are a bad idea…There are two versions of Hotspot Shield: One free and one called “Elite”, which costs $1.99 per month or $19.99 for a year’s subscription. The free version offers unlimited VPN (virtual private network) browsing and protection from about a million known security threats, but to add the data compression…you’ll have to ante up the monthly or yearly fee. Owners of multiple Android devices only have to pay one time…You can also get the Elite version for free by completing some advertising offers that earn credits towards the Elite price…”
15.     My 30 Day Android Challenge…30 Days Completed  http://www.tmonews.com/2012/06/my-30-day-android-challenge-30-days-completed/  “To call the last 30 days a wild ride would be putting it mildly. Uprooting your entire mobile experience for something completely different is both thrilling and frightening at the same time…what’s my conclusion? Let’s just get right to the nitty gritty and ask, am I going stick with Android? Yes, I’m still using it, I’ve got the phone set up exactly the way I want to and I’ve got a metric ton of app exploration left to accomplish. Still, my iPhone looks at me lovingly and yes, I miss iOS a little…things I miss about iOS after 30 days: Ecosystem: I’m very tied into Apple’s ecosystem with a MacBook Air, iPad and iPhone…iOS has a better email experience hands down…Gmail on Gingerbread…no zoom, pictures are always too large and it just irritates me…Camera: The One S is fantastic. However…I do feel the 4S has the best camera on the market right now…let me emphasize part of the Android experience I have…found invaluable in part of my daily mobile life…Swiftkey has not only saved me over 10,000 keystrokes (they told me the), it makes texting, emailing, tweeting and just about everything else that involves writing on the Android platform more enjoyable…Google Voice: OMG. This is so amazingly useful I can’t even explain it…App Integration…is a great, great thing and one of the major reasons that has me considering staying with Android full time. The ability to send pieces of info to Pocket, Dropbox, Evernote or any of the other dozen or so apps I have installed that are part of my work and personal workflows is invaluable…Here’s a list of the most important apps I’ve been using that I’ve found invaluable over the past 30 days…Barcode Scanner: For obvious reasons…Disqus: For managing comments on the go, otherwise known as policing the trolls…Download All Files: Improved download manager for files…Dropbox…Evernote…Firefox Beta: Tried a number of browsers…Flixster: Movie times…Minimalistic Text: Text widgets on the home-screen…Pocket: I couldn’t work without this app…SwiftKey 3 Beta…WordPress: Correcting those grammatical mistakes I catch on the go…If you’re wondering if I will completely stop using the iPhone, the answer is no. I’m a phone geek and I’ll continue to utilize whatever phone is right for the moment…”
16.     Virgin Mobile to Offer iPhone  http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052702303918204577448462171857048-lMyQjAxMTAyMDAwNTEwNDUyWj.html  “Sprint Nextel Corp. is set to…offer Apple Inc.'s iPhone…Sprint will announce this week it will offer the popular smartphone on its Virgin Mobile pay-as-you-go brand…Offering the iPhone may help Sprint satisfy its commitment to Apple to buy $15.5 billion of the phones over four years…The prepaid iPhone from Virgin would be more widely available than Leap's Cricket brand because Cricket is only in smaller markets…”
17.     ASUS reveals TAICHI convertible notebook / tablet with dual 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch displays  http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/04/asus-taichi-notebook-tablet/  “Two displays in one tablet?...ASUS' new TAICHI series packs displays on both the front and the rear, letting you use the device in a variety of configurations. In 'notebook' mode, you can use TAICHI with a backlit QWERTY keyboard and trackpad. Once you close the lid, however, it's stylus time. TAICHI includes Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7 processors, 4 gigs of RAM, SSD storage, dual-band 802.11n WiFi, FHD/Super IPS+ displays and, naturally, dual cameras…both the 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch configurations are reportedly as thin and light as the Zenbook line…displays can be used independently, so you can even share the device with a friend -- with completely different content on each LCD…Despite the thin design, there's no shortage of connectivity options…”
18.     Exec predicts data-only phone plans in 2 years  http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2012-06-01/all-data-phone-plans/55332116/1  “The CEO of AT&T Inc. said…cellphone plans that count only data usage are likely to come in the next two years…Phone calls are also taking a back seat to other things people do with their smartphones. AT&T has been recording a decline in the average number of minutes used per month. However, phone companies still make most of their money from calling plans and texting, which use very little data. That means phone companies would want to compensate for the revenue fall-off somehow, perhaps by raising data prices…”
19.     AT&T Brings A "COW" To Girls Scouts' Camporee  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/att-brings-a-cow-to-girls-scouts-camporee-2012-06-01  “As more than 2,000 New England-area Girl Scouts and their families converge on Barnstable County Fairgrounds for this weekend's 100th Anniversary Forever Green Camporee and Festival, AT&T* is boosting network capacity…The company has deployed a cell on wheels (COW) at the Barnstable Fairgrounds to accommodate expected increased wireless network demands from…attendees at the event…The temporary network enhancements are part of AT&T's ongoing efforts to prepare for and provide the best possible mobile experience during special events…With thousands of Girl Scouts and their parents attending this weekend's event, our goal is for our customers to have an extraordinary experience, whether they are sending a text or uploading a photo to their favorite social networking site…”
20.    Update on the mobile revolution  http://www.contracostatimes.com/technology/ci_20754022/magid-mobile-revolution-has-arrived-mary-meeker-d10-smartphones  “…Although it may seem as if "everyone" is online, there is still plenty of room for growth. Global Internet penetration is now at 32 percent with an 8 percent annual growth rate…There is also enormous growth potential in mobile, especially with smartphones and mobile broadband. There are currently 1.8 billion mobile broadband (3G) users with an annual growth rate of 37 percent. That represents only 18 percent of mobile subscribers…There are 6.1 billion mobile phone subscriptions in the world, which includes 953 million smartphones, but Meeker predicts that within five years more than half of mobile phone users will be using smartphones…29 percent of American adults own a tablet or e-reader, up from only 2 percent less than three years ago…the iPad is growing three times faster than the iPhone…in 2009, mobile accounted for about 1 percent of Internet traffic. By 2010 it grew to 4 percent and is now 10 percent. From a financial standpoint, mobile represents 8 percent of e-commerce…Unlike the fixed Internet, where advertising is the cash cow, 71 percent of mobile monetization comes from apps and 29 percent from ads…As for ad spending, it's now about $30 billion for the fixed Internet compared to only $1.6 billion on mobile…Cook said he hopes that Apple might someday assemble devices in the United States. But he complained that, wage issues aside, there are other challenges because of the dramatic shrinking of the American tool-and-die industry, which is essential for manufacturing…PCs continue to get better, but the improvements are mostly incremental…Smartphones have already disrupted the point-and-shoot digital camera market and -- along with tablets -- are starting to take a bite out of PC sales. In the developing world, smartphones are being used by millions who have never owned a PC…”
21.     Nuance’s Dragon ID Lets You Unlock Your Smartphone Or Tablet By Talking To It  http://techcrunch.com/2012/06/05/nuances-dragon-id-lets-you-unlock-your-smartphone-by-talking-to-it/  “Speech recognition giant Nuance has made their share of plays in the mobile space before — they acquired Vlingo last year and pushed out their Dragon Go! voice command app to both iOS and Android. Their latest mobile endeavor, Dragon ID, is a little different — its main draw is that it’s capable of recognizing distinct voices and using them to authenticate users and unlock devices…Their demo video (seen below) is where things start to get a little confusing. Instead of just a voice print authentification service, the video paints a portrait of Dragon ID as (yet another) intelligent assistant capable of reminding users about meetings and making snarky quips about playing Angry Birds. It could be a puzzling show of how Dragon ID could integrate with something like Nuance’s Dragon Go! voice command app, though many of the commands issued in the video don’t work (yet?) with the app. Dragon ID also appears capable of managing different user accounts and homescreens, functionality that doesn’t yet exist on most consumer smartphones and tablets. Features like that would explain why we the people won’t be able to download Dragon ID any time soon…”
Apps
22.    Using smartphone apps for employment market  http://www.zdnet.com/blog/small-business-matters/doing-some-hiring-mobile-app-8216time-shifts-interviews/2567  “Here’s one for small-business owners who are challenged with finding the “right” time to interview job candidates. Recruiting and human resources company HireVue has come up with a mobile application for the iPhone and iPad…The HireVue App enables what the company describes as “on demand interviews” that allow managers to time shift interviews with job candidates…businesses create the questions they would like included in the interview, and then post those questions as an interactive questionnaire through the HireVue service. Candidates can complete the interviews throughout the course of the interview period using their smartphone or tablet computer, and different hiring managers at the company can view the recorded responses (captured as a video) at their leisure…”  http://www.timesunion.com/business/press-releases/article/First-Ever-Video-Resume-and-Interviewing-App-3595138.php  “Job seekers and employers now have access to instant video job resources on their iPhones via Spark Hire’s…new free mobile application…job seekers can record a video resume in the form of a Spark Hire Profile Video or take part in a video interview, all from their mobile devices…The app complements the current Spark Hire platform, making it easy for job seekers and employers to interact while on the go. Aside from the ability to record and interview right from your iPhone, job seekers are able to manage their Spark Hire account, favorite job listings, receive alerts to jobs that match their selected criteria, and interact with employers from their Spark Hire inbox…Employers also are able to use their Apple device to manage their company profile, view their job posts, playback video interviews, and communicate with job seekers…”
23.    Create private mobile apps for your small business  http://www.zdnet.com/blog/small-business-matters/create-private-mobile-apps-for-your-small-business/2600  “…one of the companies I included in my list “14 DIY mobile app development resources for small businesses,“ has updated its technology to support development of free HTML 5 apps and to help small companies create applications that might be useful for internal collaboration or processes…TheAppBuilder from Ireland, is focusing its new HTML 5 publishing option on small companies that need to get applications published quickly or that aren’t yet willing to invest in native application development, said James Scott, CEO of JamPot Technologies, which runs TheAppBuilder…retailers might use them for one-time promotions or events…the Private Apps service…allows companies to create and publish apps for private usage, such as sales collateral, training materials…To date, there have been roughly 30,000 apps written by small businesses and individuals using TheAppBuilder…70 percent of those applications are originating from businesses in North America…The basic HTML 5 service is free; you will need to pay if you want to add certain extensions…”
24.    World Pork Expo Introduces Mobile App  http://agwired.com/2012/06/02/world-pork-expo-introduces-mobile-app/  “…people attending World Pork Expo…in Des Moines, Iowa, will be able to get the latest Expo information with a customized smartphone app…this new app is designed to help attendees make the most of their Expo visit. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and National Hog Farmer partnered to develop the app for Apple, Android and Blackberry mobile devices…” [the fact that there’s a World Pork Expo app tells me smartphone apps have gone mainstream! – ed.]
SkyNet
25.    Offline Gdocs editing  http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/05/slick-new-chromebook-first-chromebox-desktop-out-from-samsung-today/  “…Google used to allow offline editing of Google Docs through a Google Gears extension, but killed the project with the promise of delivering offline functionality natively through the browser. Offline viewing capabilities were brought back last September and editing is coming sometime in June…Any changes made while offline will sync with the Google server once a user gains an Internet connection…Offline editing of Docs will be available in all versions of the Chrome browser, not just the one for Chrome OS devices. No other browsers are supported just yet…Google is using IndexedDB to store files locally when an Internet connection is severed. Two other additions help on the offline documents and storage fronts. New viewing capabilities allow opening of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files in a browser tab, online or offline. The files can be viewed without Google Docs, although editing requires Docs…”
26.    Google Shopping only shows products for merchants who pay to be included  http://searchengineland.com/google-product-search-to-become-google-shopping-use-pay-to-play-model-122959  “Google is transforming its formerly free Google Product Search listings into Google Shopping, a new vertical that will only be stocked with products that companies have paid to place there. That’s a big change for Google, which had previously took a stand against what’s called “paid inclusion”…Google is framing the move as a way to better serve shoppers and  get more accurate data from merchants, some of whom may have inadvertently listed out of date prices or were flat out pushing incorrect pricing to lure in customers…Here’s what Google said in a blog post: We believe that having a commercial relationship with merchants will encourage them to keep their product information fresh and up to date. Higher quality data—whether it’s accurate prices, the latest offers or product availability—should mean better shopping results for users, which in turn should create higher quality traffic for merchants…Products will still appear for free in regular Google searches; only Google Shopping will require paid ads to be listed…”
27.    Google buys QuickOffice, will it result in improved mobile Google Docs?  http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/its-war-google-quickoffice-vs-microsoft-office-everywhere/12851  “Quickoffice may give Google a needed competitive hedge against Office 15 on Windows tablets and possibly iOS and Android devices. Google Docs has made some inroads against Microsoft Office, but not nearly enough. That’s no doubt a big reason for Google’s latest acquisition, Quickoffice…the question becomes will the cross-mobile-platform productivity suite Quickoffice — give Google a better leg up against Microsoft’s Office? Quickoffice runs on iPhones, iPad, Android, Android tablets and Symbian devices. And Office 15, the coming version of Microsoft’s productivity app suite, will run on Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone and, perhaps soon the iPad and Android…”
28.    Apparent Google Apps/Gmail Vulnerability; and How to Protect Yourself  http://blog.cloudflare.com/post-mortem-todays-attack-apparent-google-app  “…This attack appears to have begun in mid-May. It appears an account request was sent to Gmail for my personal email address. Google's procedure asks for a number of questions to attempt to verify account ownership…it appears that weeks after the process was initiated, the hacker somehow convinced Google's account recovery systems to add a fraudulent recovery email address to my personal Gmail account…Once the recovery email address was added, the hacker could then reinitiate the password recovery process and get reset instructions sent to the fraudulent email address. Those instructions were then used to reset my personal email this morning…We are still working with Google to understand how the hacker was able to reset the password without providing a valid two-factor authentication token…I've also added two-factor authentication to my personal Gmail account -- something that this incident highlights the importance of…Google reports that they discovered a "subtle flaw affecting not 2-step verification itself, but the account recovery flow for some accounts. We've now blocked that attack vector to prevent further abuse."…the Google Security team has, at all times throughout this incident, been responsive and attentive to the issue. In my opinion, they are the model of security on the Internet and we continue to trust them to power email…the vulnerability that allowed the hacker to access my personal Gmail account…appears to have involved a breach of AT&T's systems that compromised the out-of-band verification. The upshot is that if an attacker knows your phone number and your phone number is listed as a possible recovery method for your Google account then, at best, your Google account may only be as secure as your voicemail PIN…we believe AT&T was compromised, potentially through social engineering of their support staff, allowing the hacker to bypass even the security of the PIN…”
29.    Google to show Chinese web users what words are being censored  http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/06/01/google_search_china_censorship/  “Google could be set for another tense showdown with the Chinese government after changing its search experience for users in the People’s Republic in a way that will explicitly notify them when their searches are being blocked by the authorities…The Google line is that searches made from mainland China and routed through its servers in Hong Kong “can be inconsistent and unreliable”, with users often presented with error message such as “This webpage is not available” or “The connection was reset”…So starting today we’ll notify users in mainland China when they enter a keyword that may cause connection issues. By prompting people to revise their queries, we hope to reduce these disruptions and improve our user experience from mainland China. Of course, if users want to press ahead with their original queries they can carry on.”…The new search feature will alert users as they type in the offending characters and present them with the following message: We've observed that searching for [insert search term here] in mainland China may temporarily break your connection to Google. This interruption is outside of Google's control. Users can then learn more about the interruption via a link taking them to a help centre article, continue with their original query, which will be blocked, or edit their search term to use the pinyin system - used to transliterate Chinese characters into Latin script – to avoid unnecessary blocks…”
30.    Skip ads on YouTube  https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/epbmnbdplhcomkedpjfceakddnbgfjmf  [a Chrome browser extension]
31.     Google “Business Builder” for SMBs  http://searchengineland.com/wsj-google-prepares-business-builder-for-small-business-marketers-123340  “Google is planning to combine a number of its products…into a suite of tools and services aimed at small business marketers…According to the WSJ the package would include: Google+ Local pages…AdWords Express…Google Offers…Delivery (a new service that would enable stores to deliver products to homes)…TalkBin (an SMS-based customer feedback tool; so far doesn’t enable review solicitation)…Google Wallet…Punchd (in-store loyalty program)…Over the past year Google has been making a big push with initiatives in multiple states to help SMBs to get online and develop mobile websites…SMBs…represent billions of additional dollars in potential ad revenues…95 percent of businesses in the US qualify as “small businesses” (under 99 headcount)…very small businesses have been extremely difficult for Google to reach efficiently “at scale.” Most of them won’t “self-serve” through a product like AdWords…Google would…prefer to have…direct relationships with local/SMB advertisers…With the above mix…Google gets a bit closer to an SMB-friendly product suite. However it’s still missing a reputation tracking capability (other than Google Alerts) and a listings syndication component (think Yext, UBL, SinglePlatform)…Arguably the recently announced Yahoo Marketing Dashboard comes closer to matching SMB needs…The second and probably more challenging issue is sales and customer service…”
32.    Google Analytics Now Lets You Conduct Browser-Size Analysis  http://techcrunch.com/2012/06/04/google-analytics-now-lets-you-conduct-browser-size-analysis/  “Google just added a small but interesting new feature to its Google Analytics product. You can now see how much of your site your visitors are really seeing based on the new browser-size analysis…With Analytics, Google already knows what screen sizes your site’s visitors are using, so it is now combining this information with its…browser size tool from Google Labs…thanks to the plethora of mobile devices with different screen sizes, the days where your visitors just used a few standard screen sizes are long over…you can’t even draw any real conclusions from your users’ screen sizes anymore either because “for many people, the visible portion of the web page is much smaller than the screen resolution, because of excessive toolbars and other clutter.” Conversion rates…are greatly affected by what your visitors see on your pages without having to scroll.”
33.    Google buys Meebo  http://www.sci-tech-today.com/news/Google-Buys-Meebo-and-Its-Web-Site-Bar/story.xhtml?story_id=01100187ZDQK  “…Meebo says its Bar is presented to half of the U.S. population that is on the Internet…Google has acquired Meebo for a reported $100 million…Google praised the "Meebo team's expertise in social publisher tools,"…Meebo reportedly laid off most of its non-technical team prior to the announcement, and several Google observers have indicated that acquisition of the engineering team was a key reason for the purchase. Meebo started in 2005 with a browser-based instant messaging client, which allowed users to simultaneously log into IM accounts from Yahoo, AIM, MSN Messenger, and ICQ, and consolidate them into one buddy list. It later added multi-user chat rooms, mobile  apps, and APIs that allowed third-party developers to extend its platform. Currently, its main product is the Meebo Bar, an overlay strip that is added on top of such Web sites as TV Guide, Seventeen, TMZ, Entertainment Weekly, and thousands of others…”
General Technology
34.    Fear and Loathing and Windows 8  http://mobileopportunity.blogspot.com/2012/05/fear-and-loathing-and-windows-8.html  “I was very excited when I saw the first demos of Windows 8…So far I've installed Windows 8 on two computers…My conclusion is that Windows 8 in its current form is very different; attractive in some ways, and disturbing in others…I am very worried that Microsoft may be about to shoot itself in the foot spectacularly…The rollout of Windows 8 has very important implications for not just Microsoft but everyone in the tech industry…Windows 8 is a revolutionary transition in Windows, easily the biggest change since the move from DOS to Windows in the early 1990s…If the transition is successful, Microsoft could emerge as a much stronger, more dynamic company, leveraging its sales leadership in PCs to get a powerful position in tablets, mobile devices, and online services…if Windows 8 fails, Microsoft could break the loyalty of its customer base and turn its genteel decline into a catastrophic collapse…Whatever the outcome for Microsoft, what's certain is that because so many people use Windows as the foundation of their computing, the transition to Windows 8 will produce threats and opportunities for everyone else in the tech industry…Here's what I'd like you to take away from this article: Windows 8 is not Windows, it's a new operating system with Windows 7 compatibility tacked on…Although Windows 8 looks pretty and is great for tablet-style content consumption, I question its benefits for traditional PC productivity tasks…Big OS transitions like this one traditionally cause users to reconsider their OS decision and potentially switch to something else…Microsoft has worsened the risk that people will migrate away from Windows 8, by disabling some key features of Windows 7, and mishandling the consumer "preview" program…This might be Apple's best chance ever to stick a fork in Windows…If Windows 8 is even moderately successful, it could weaken Google and the big web services companies.  The trend toward bundling web services into the OS is potentially very disruptive to the web community…”
35.    How Bluetooth 4.0 Will Change Remote Control  http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/2515194/list/How-Bluetooth-4-0-Will-Change-Remote-Control  “…The fourth generation of Bluetooth technology is revolutionary. It's not just a little better than the Bluetooth you're currently using. It's massively better…one of the best things about it is that it uses much less power. If you use a wireless mouse or keyboard, you know that the batteries have to be changed or recharged every few weeks or, at most, every few months. Bluetooth 4.0 would enable them to never have to do anything with the batteries. These devices would be charged when you open the box and remain charged for…years…The iPhone 4S was the first phone ever to support Bluetooth 4.0. The current iPad (shown in use above) is the first tablet to support it…Bluetooth 4.0…will replace proprietary technologies. A wide range of household gadgets, from TV remote controls to room temperature thermostats to doorbells, use nonstandard tech to communicate wirelessly. New capabilities in Bluetooth 4.0 will mean all these gadgets can just use the new standard…It will enable more things to be wireless…It will let you automate things. Once an appliance or piece of functional furniture can be controlled through Bluetooth 4.0, it can be easily automated…you can expect literally thousands of home-control apps to come on the market over the next few years…It will help appliances talk to one another. With all your stuff connected via Bluetooth 4.0, the appliances in your house can talk to other appliances without your involvement…An incoming phone call can pause your TV show. The alarm clock by your bed can turn on the coffee machine…”
36.    Sharp's 498 ppi LCD hopes to kickstart the crystal IGZO transistor revolution  http://www.theverge.com/2012/6/1/3056490/sharp-caac-igzo-498-ppi-display-prototype  “Sharp and…Semiconductor Energy Laboratory are announcing a new jointly-developed advancement in thin-film transistor (TFT) technology called CAAC-IGZO (C-axis aligned crystal Indium gallium zinc oxide), which they believe will do nothing short of "revolutionize" display technology…The two companies showed off…a prototype 6.1-inch LCD display with a remarkable 2560 x 1600 resolution. At 498 ppi, the prototype offers even more pixels per inch than LG's 5-inch 1080p display from earlier this week…The company says the new technology has other benefits as well, including much lower background noise when used in touchscreens, and the ability to produce much narrower bezels…It’s been said that the human eye can’t perceive individual pixels from cellphone-wielding distance at over 300 or so per inch, but the photographs Sharp had loaded on its prototype display were stunningly crisp and detailed…”
37.    ASUS Transformer AiO official: all-in-one PC dual-boots Android and Windows 8  http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/04/asus-transformer-aio/  “ASUS…announced the Transformer AiO, an 18.4-inch desktop that runs both operating systems…Unlike the Android-and-ARM-based Viewsonic desktop we saw earlier today, the Transformer AiO seems rooted in Windows 8: it boots into Win8, and transitions into Android only after you press a button. In addition to running two OS', the AiO has dual form factors: you can use it as a traditional all-in-one if you like, or you can detach the screen from the base and use it as a wireless display…an absurdly large 18-inch tablet…”
38.    Blockly, a visual programming language  http://code.google.com/p/google-blockly/  “Blockly is a web-based, graphical programming language. Users can drag blocks together to build an application. No typing required…Maze - Use Blockly to solve a maze…Code - Export a Blockly program into JavaScript, Dart, Python or XML…RTL - See what Blockly looks like in right-to-left mode (for Arabic and Hebrew)…Blockly is currently a technology preview. We want developers to be able to play with Blockly, give feedback, and think of novel uses for it. All the code is free and open source…” 
39.    In-depth look at how SSDs work  http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/06/inside-the-ssd-revolution-how-solid-state-disks-really-work/  “…in 1997…I scraped together enough spare change to purchase a 3Dfx Voodoo-based Diamond Monster 3D video card…when I slapped that sucker into my aging Pentium 90 and fired up…MechWarrior 2…my jaw hit the floor…I didn't think I would ever again experience something as significant as that one single upgrade—until the first time I booted up a laptop with a solid-state drive (SSD) in it…Solid-state drives have a similar effect. They're faster than spinning disk, to be sure…but…they make the whole computer feel faster…they store some surprisingly complex secrets…A modern multi-terabyte spinning hard disk plays tricks with magnetism and quantum mechanics, results of decades of research and billions of dollars and multiple Nobel Prizes in physics…A modern solid-state drive performs much more quickly, but it's also a more mundane on the inside, as it's really a hard drive-shaped bundle of NAND flash memory…However, the controller software powering an SSD does some remarkable things, and that little hard drive-shaped bundle of memory is more correctly viewed as a computer in its own right…Here's the only primer on SSD technology you'll ever need to read…”
40.    Blowing away bloatware: a guide to reinstalling Windows on a new PC  http://arstechnica.com/features/2012/06/blowing-away-bloatware-a-guide-to-reinstalling-windows-on-a-new-pc/  “We recently reported on a new service offered through Microsoft Stores: for $99, technicians will reinstall a clean copy of Windows on any new PC, wiping out all of the bloatware that shipped with the computer…We ended up with nearly as many comments on that story as it had words…the general consensus was that bloatware brings down the price of PCs—but is otherwise supremely terrible and should be nuked from orbit. This guide aims to address all of these points in one big, sweeping go, both for home users and for smaller businesses…Technical users who have done all of this before can pick up some information about how Windows installation media and the Windows activation process have changed since the Windows XP days…For the purposes of our guide, we will begin with a new PC that has just been taken out of the box and hooked up for the first time…”
Leisure & Entertainment
41.     Stop What You're Doing and Go Buy the Humble Indie Bundle  http://www.pcworld.com/article/256588/stop_what_youre_doing_and_go_buy_the_humble_indie_bundle.html  “…have an extra $10 that you can spare?...pick up the latest Humble Indie Bundle and support great games and charity. The fifth iteration of the bundle includes amazing titles like Bastion and Limbo…Humble Indie Bundles…have proven quite successful at raising money for the Child's Play charity. When you purchase the bundle you decide how much you want to pay and how that money gets divided up between the game developers and charities. The games work on Windows, OSX, and Linux, and--best of all--they are DRM free…”
42.    Netflix toppled Apple as top U.S. online movie biz in 2011  http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/netflix-toppled-apple-as-top-us-online-movie-biz-in-2011/78897  “…Netflix…managed to become the largest U.S. online movie service based on revenue in 2011…Netflix’s market share grew to account for 44 percent in 2011 — up from less than 1 percent in 2010…previous leader Apple and its iTunes entertainment platform dropped to 32.3 percent of the market share in 2011 — down from a 60.8 percent in 2010…2011 marked a sea change in the online movies business that saw the balance of consumer spending shift from a DVD-like transactional model to more TV-like subscription approach. The online movie business more than doubled in 2011 to reach $992 million and it is expected to double this year as well…the core value proposition of the two services is actually very different…each of them have closer competitors to keep in mind. For example…Netflix should watch out more for Hulu and Walmart-owned Vudu…”
43.    What Happened to Cyberpunk?  http://motherboard.vice.com/2012/6/5/what-happened-to-cyberpunk--2  “Cyberpunk, in the popular consciousness, conjures a glut of dissociated images: Blade Runner’s slummy urban landscape, hackers in sunglasses, Japanese cyborgs, grubby tech, digital intoxication, Keanu Reeves as Johnny Mnemonic. But it began as an insanely niche subculture within science fiction, one which articulated young writerly distaste for the historically utopian optimism of the medium and, in turn, provided an aesthetic reference point for burgeoning hacker culture, before metastasizing into a full-on cultural trend. One of the movement’s chief ideologues, Bruce Sterling, wrote in the introduction to his seminal anthology Mirrorshades that technology in cyberpunk writing was “not outside us, but next to us. Under our skin; often, inside our minds.” In cyberpunk novels, technology isn’t controlled by white-coat boffins in a distant lab on the holy altar of Science, but in our homes, on our streets, in our bodies. Unlike their predecessors in science fiction, the cyberpunks didn’t evangelize gleaming rockets or futuristic weapons…In the cyberpunk world, we don’t behold technology from a safe distance. We jack in, and in doing so, alter our minds…The trend largely ended with the dot-com era…Fun as it all sounds, cyberpunk has been out of vogue for over two decades. Sterling pronounced it dead in 1985…So, back to the question: what happened to cyberpunk? The answer is simple. It’s under our noses. Privacy and security online. Megacorporations with the same rights as human beings. Failures of the system to provide for the very poor. The struggle to establish identity that is not dependent on a technological framework: the common themes of the cyberpunk classics are the vital issues of 2012. Quite simply, we’re already there, and so of course cyberpunk as a genre is unfashionable: current events always are. Even William Gibson and Neal Stephenson don’t write science fiction anymore. Why bother? We live immersed in the cyberpunk culture…do we have Mars rovers because aerospace engineers grew up reading Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein, or did Clarke and Heinlein predict the future? Does Anonymous launch DDoS attacks on government websites, rupturing the system, because they all read Neuromancer when they were 15, or is William Gibson just that good? Probably a little of both…”
44.    Kobo launches e-book self-publishing platform, “Writing Life”  http://paidcontent.org/2012/06/05/kobo-launches-self-publishing-platform-writing-life/  “Digital reading company Kobo is launching a competitor to Amazon’s KDP and Barnes & Noble’s PubIt: Kobo Writing Life, a free self-publishing platform for independent authors and publishers…On its website, Kobo takes a jab at Amazon: “Unlike some self-publishing portals we could mention, Kobo doesn’t bind you to us. Publish to Kobo and take your ePub to your adoring fans, no matter where they might be. You’re free to sell your eBook the way you want.” To be fair, Amazon’s KDP doesn’t require exclusivity, but its KDP Select (which lets self-published authors include their titles in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library) does. The main difference between Kobo and Amazon is outlined in the press release: Unlike competitive self-publishing tools, Kobo allows authors to set their book price to “FREE” at any time without restrictive exclusive agreements, in addition Kobo pays 10% higher royalties on sales in many growing international markets and allows authors much more freedom on pricing…”
Economy and Technology
45.    Facebook below $29, Groupon worth less than Google offered  http://techcrunch.com/2012/05/29/facebook-has-lost-about-35-billion-in-value-since-ipo-as-shares-dip-below-29/  “…Shares hit a new low of $28.65…After-hours trading has the company down another 0.5 percent to $28.69. That gives the company a market capitalization of $79.02 billion, down from $115 billion market cap Facebook opened at on the day of its IPO when it started trading at $42.05 a share…”  http://money.cnn.com/2012/06/04/technology/groupon-stock-6-billion/  “…Groupon…precipitous stock decline continued on Monday, sending Groupon's market cap below the $6 billion that Google offered as a buyout in late 2010…shares are down about 26% over the past week. There hasn't been any major news specific to Groupon -- other than the so-called lockup expiration that allows insiders to sell -- to explain this week's sell-off. But several Internet companies have tumbled along with Facebook. Since the social network's IPO about two weeks ago, Facebook shares are down more than 30%…”
46.    Kickstarter Responds To Hidden “Failed Project” Claims  http://techcrunch.com/2012/05/31/kickstarter-responds-to-hidden-failed-project-claims/  “Yancey Strickler, co-founder of Kickstarter…told us that Kickstarter does indeed hide many projects from search robots, but it’s for a good cause…“This isn’t to ‘hide failure,’ as the original post said, it’s because it would be a poor user experience (there’s no action that anyone could take) and it would expose the creators of unsuccessfully funded projects to unnecessary criticism from the web (those projects would be prime for trolling).”…In fact, project creators asked that Kickstarter projects be de-indexed for a reason: they ranked high in search results and, if Google crawled them, the resulting failures would percolate towards the top…The company has added a FAQ to address the problem here…This is crowdsourcing perfected, in a way, and if there’s one thing we know about crowds it’s that they’re easily swayed, fickle, and rarely kind.”
DHMN Technology
47.    The FIBIAC  http://chrisfenton.com/the-fibiac/  “Behold the FIBIAC!...It computes! It uses actual punch cards! This is my first working incarnation of an idea for a simple electromechanical computer…I was initially looking for a practical project to bolster my non-existent mechanical engineering skills…I wanted my machine to have a few key attributes…Have lots of moving parts (preferably loud ones)…Use a chain of paper ‘instruction’ cards to program it…Actually be able to compute things on it…I finally acquired a Makerbot Thing-o-matic a few months ago, however, and I can’t recommend it enough! It’s just ridiculously easier to prototype with than anything I’ve worked with before…~90% of the machine was either printed on my Thing-o-matic or composed of parts from old Makerbots lying around at NYCResistor…”
48.    Fujifilm tests the 3D printing waters  http://www.gizmag.com/fujifilm-3d-printer-kiosk/22701/  “3D printing is starting to surf a wave that could take it from a specialist manufacturing process to household product. The price of machines is coming down and the array of objects that can be created is going up, but it's not yet clear exactly how this potential will be realized in the consumer marketplace. One possible pathway is being explored by Fujifilm: introduce 3D printers using the established "kiosk" model that's been so successful for digital photo printing…utilizing existing infrastructure, instead of just limiting it to photo gifting products, what if we are able to have a number of predetermined models and provide customers with a personalized 3D gift shop…The machine on show at the Fujifim stand was…3D Systems 3D Touch printer…Printers similar to the one on display start at around US$3,500 and in the 3D printing world there are of course different machines for different tasks…materials like silver, gold, ceramics and stainless steel can be used in the 3D printing process, but few DIYers will want to buy a new machine each time they want to use a different material…leveraging the existing kiosk infrastructure to expand the reach of this process makes sense. And it's just the start for what could become a huge market for much more than personalized 3D giftware - auto-parts, hardware, clothing…”
49.    Raspberry Pi impressions: the $35 Linux computer and tinker toy  http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/01/raspberry-pi-impressions-the-35-linux-computer-and-tinker-toy/  “…If there's one place the Pi has been an unquestionable success, it's been on cost…the fact that it clocks in at a measly $35 for the advanced model is all the more impressive. Granted, it hits this Arduino-level price point by eschewing things like storage, a display, wireless radios and even a protective case. What you get instead, is a capable, but low-end ARM CPU with integrated RAM and a surprisingly powerful GPU on an exposed board with a small, but versatile assortment of connectivity options…At the heart of the Pi is a Broadcom BCM2835 SOC. The 700MHz ARM11 core certainly isn't a barn burner. In fact, the foundation itself compares performance to a 300MHz Pentium II, but with "much, much swankier graphics" thanks to the Videocore 4 GPU. The chip itself is capable of not only decoding 1080p video, but of hitting Xbox (we're talking original, not 360) levels of 3D performance…the diminutive Pi…struggles to keep up with even modest modern demands. Firing up the Midori browser in the Debian "squeeze" distro suggested for use with the board and opening a couple of tabs is enough to bring the entire system to a standstill…simply launching Engadget was enough to pin the CPU and bring the OS to a standstill for at least a few minutes. And don't even think about watching streaming videos -- there is no support for Flash or HTML 5 at the moment…The default app selection is a bit sparse, but the big sells here are the development tools, including Scratch which is meant as an introduction to programming for kids…it's important to remember that the Raspberry Pi's goals are not to be an everyday PC or a media player, but more like a tinker toy. It's supposed to be a low cost computer for developing apps or a flexible and powerful option (at least compared to the Arduino) for your DIY projects…For the moment, the community around the Pi is small. People are fascinated with it, but that has yet to translate into a wealth of projects, hacks or software. As production ramps up and more people figure out just how to leverage those I/O pins we expect that to change…”
50.    Attempted smuggling of cellphones by hexacopter into Brazilian prison  http://www.suasnews.com/2012/06/16298/attempted-smuggling-of-cellphones-by-hexacopter-into-brazilian-prision/  “…criminals in Brazil have attempted to fly cellphones across the fence to inmates.. this craft if GPS equipped could have been flown visually over the fence and then returned to launch position at the flick of a switch. But from the press photo the GPS appears to be missing, perhaps they will go for the upgrade now…With a fairly heavy payload the platform would not have been able to fly for long,perhaps ten minutes at the most. Whoever was operating it was not far from the prison…The Military Police President Wenceslas (611 km from Sao Paulo) found early on Wednesday (30) a kind of mini-helicopter, directed by remote control, with seven cell phones on board…In 2009, a similar action was also attempted with the aid of a mini-helicopter…Last year, twice in January and August…tried to enter the jail cell by using a bow and arrow…”
51.     DroneMapper, Cloud based aerial mapping service launch  http://www.suasnews.com/2012/06/16356/dronemapper-cloud-based-aerial-mapping-service-launch/  “…developer Jon-Pierre Stoermer (JP) has created an image crunching service for sUAS…The DroneMapper system is a cloud based imagery processing service that turns your 2D aerial images into high resolution geo-referenced Digital Elevation Models, Digital Surface Models, Orthomosaic Maps, 3D Point Clouds…Our system offers a wide array of photogrammetry tools including intrinsic calibration, camera adjustment, advanced aerial triangulation, bundle block adjustment, imagery rectification, geo-referencing, and flight tracking at a fraction of the traditional cost. The platform generates very high resolution results with off the shelf consumer quality cameras and affordable UAV hardware…DroneMapper.com will process up to 15 images for free, building a very high resolution geo-referenced DEM, DSM, and Orthomosaic. The resulting output is loaded into any of the popular GIS software packages allowing for accurate contour generation, length, area, volume, cut, fill and elevation measurements…”
52.    Quadrotors Turned Into Flying Wireless Battery Chargers  http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/quadrotors-turned-into-flying-wireless-battery-chargers  “…Whenever you have anything that needs to survive away from the electrical grid for an extended period of time (whether it's a cellphone or a sensor), batteries are inevitably the limiting factor…roboticists…at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have solved the problem with a quadrotor that can fly around and wirelessly charge up electronics for you. The type of wireless power that these quadrotors are beaming out is based on what's called "strongly coupled magnetic resonances."…you've got two coils of wire: one on the quadrotor, and one on whatever you want to power or charge…The quadrotor drives a current in its coil, which generates an oscillating magnetic field. When the quadrotor gets close enough to the receiver, the receiver's coil starts to resonate with the magnetic field transmitted by the quadrotor. That resonance induces a voltage in the coil, which the receiver can use to power its electronics or charge its battery…the quadrotor can wirelessly transfer about 5.5 watts of power with an efficiency of 35 percent…this kind of system would be great for "highway messaging systems, ecological sensors located in forests, or sensors shallowly embedded underground or in concrete." UAVs would act as mobile power stations, zipping around and delivering power to sensors when necessary. Rumor has it that CyPhy Works…is developing UAVs for infrastructure inspection…wireless sensor charging capability would fit right in with that sort of thing…”
Open Source Hardware
53.    Open-Source Mini ROV Can be Made on the Cheap  http://www.fellowgeek.com/a-NASA-Scientist-Builds-Cheap-Underwater-ROV-You-can-build-at-home-ix2124.html  “Eric Stackpole…is the chief designer of a cheap, portable underwater ROV that could change the way we explore our oceans. And he wants to make it so cheap and easy to build that anyone can do it…the OpenROV…price per vehicle is hovering around $500-$600, depending on how good a deal you get on the parts…further development will likely drastically reduce the price. Or you can buy a kit for $750 and support the project, once the Kickstarter gets going…The ROV will be controlled by a laptop through a web browser. Theoretically, it can be steered from anywhere in the world, as long as there is a computer tethered to it on-site. Most ROV's cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, to buy…”
54.    Open-source medical design: can it improve patient safety?  http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/design-architecture/open-source-medical-design-can-it-improve-patient-safety/6696  “…a number of researchers–including those with support from the Food and Drug Administration–are developing “open-source” healthcare equipment. The idea is to offer completely transparent, shared software code and mix-and-match interface and hardware designs. While this might seem risky, the goal is to spark faster and more effective innovation in the medical device field, while making it easier to spot potential programming bugs and other device failures…It can be hard to expose specific problems with these products, given that medical software (and hardware) is proprietary and patent-protected, thus veiled in secrecy. The open-source approach could, in theory, make it easier to fix, or even avoid, dangerous flaws before they hurt or kill hundreds or thousands of patients…The Generic Infusion Pump project, which is a collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania and the FDA, is designing a drug-delivery system…The Open Source Medical Device initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is working toward a high-resolution medical body scanner combined with radiotherapy machine. The initiative will offer all of the instructions and source code for building one…The Raven surgical robot is an open source system…The Medical Device Coordination Framework that’s being developed at Kansas State University aims to create an open-source hardware platform that would include interchangeable buttons, displays, as well as software that would connect them with sensors and other devices…”
Open Source
55.     OpenCV knows where you’re looking with eye tracking  http://hackaday.com/2012/05/30/opencv-knows-where-youre-looking-with-eye-tracking/  “…a video-based eye tracking solution using OpenCV…can tell anyone exactly where you’re looking and allows for free head movement. The basic idea behind this build is simple; when looking straight ahead a pupil is perfectly circular. When an eye looks off to one side, a pupil looks more and more like an ellipse to a screen-mounted video camera. By measuring the dimensions of this ellipse, [John]‘s software can make a very good guess where the eye is looking…Like the EyeWriter project this build was based on, [John]‘s build uses IR LEDs around the edge of a monitor to increase the contrast between the pupil and the iris…”
56.    New open-source CRM app uses gamification  http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9227604/New_open_source_CRM_app_uses_gamification  “The backers of a new open-source CRM (customer relationship management) application called Zurmo are hoping to stand out in a crowded field via the use of gamification…applying game-like design principles in an effort to make users engage more closely with a product…Its core CRM features cover contact management, deal tracking and activity management, while the gamification elements include the use of points and badges that users receive based on the actions they take, both in terms of sheer use as well as "business-related milestones," such as garnering a certain number of sales leads…The problem is that the CRM industry "has failed in terms of user adoption," McKay added…The company is seeking contributors to the open-source project…” [is gamification wasted effort outside of games? Seems like the design needs to be improved to make the program easier for the user or the program doesn’t have sufficient intrinsic value to the user – ed.]
Civilian Aerospace
57.     SpaceX Dragon Landing Caps "Grand Slam" Mission to Space Station  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/05/120531-spacex-dragon-lands-international-space-station-nasa/  “SpaceX 's cargo-laden Dragon space capsule parachuted back to Earth Thursday morning after a nearly flawless demonstration mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The unmanned capsule splashed down at approximately 11:42 a.m. ET in the Pacific Ocean, about 500 miles (800 kilometers) west of Baja California…The landing caps an extremely successful nine-day mission that saw Dragon become the first commercial vehicle to visit the ISS—a feat previously performed by only a few governments…From start to finish, Dragon's return to Earth took about six hours, beginning at 5:49 a.m. ET Thursday. Once undocked from the station, the robotic arm released the capsule, allowing Dragon to reinsert itself into Earth orbit. Approximately five hours later, the capsule's Draco thrusters fired for approximately ten minutes to reduce velocity by about 200 miles (320 kilometers) an hour—just enough for it to drop out of orbit and begin its fall back to Earth. A few minutes later, Dragon jettisoned its trunk section, which included its solar panels, and deployed its three parachutes…Alan Lindenmoyer, manager of NASA's commercial crew and cargo program, said…he expects SpaceX will soon be given final approval for routine cargo transport to the ISS…In the coming months SpaceX will focus its efforts on an upgraded version of Dragon that will be fit to carry astronauts…Engineers are also working on a system that will allow the craft to land on solid ground with helicopter-like precision. Other than that, Musk doesn't anticipate any major changes to Dragon's design…” http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-57444574-76/spacex-cargo-ship-returns-to-earth-after-historic-mission/  [nice pictures of Dragon mission in this article]
58.    NASA completes Dream Chaser flight test milestone  http://phys.org/news/2012-06-nasa-chaser-flight-milestone.html  “…Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Space Systems successfully completed a "captive carry test" of its full-scale Dream Chaser orbital crew vehicle Tuesday, marking a new milestone in the company's effort to develop transportation for astronauts to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station…the Dream Chaser flight vehicle was carried under an Erickson Air-Crane helicopter to assess the vehicle's aerodynamic flight performance, which will allow additional flight tests in the future. The helicopter flew for approximately an hour…SNC is one of several companies working to develop commercial crew transportation capabilities under the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA…The Dream Chaser is designed to carry as many as seven astronauts to space. It is the only spacecraft under CCDev2 that is winged and designed to land on a conventional runway. Data from the test will provide SNC an early opportunity to evaluate and prove hardware, facilities and ground operations in preparation for approach and landing tests scheduled for later this year…”
59.    Spaceships that will follow the first SpaceX Dragon flight  http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/01/12014835-spaceships-will-follow-dragons-trail  “…NASA won't be using this particular Dragon again. The space agency is buying a fresh spaceship for each of the 12 cargo supply missions. Musk speculated that SpaceX might send the scarred spacecraft on "a little tour of the country and show it to people around the country…In the future, Dragons could be refurbished for return trips to space…Other spaceship companies are making strides as well…Here's a quick progress report:  Orbital Sciences Corp…is developing a new rocket called the Antares as well as its Cygnus cargo capsule…cargo flights to the space station could begin by early next year…Blue Origin, the company founded by Amazon.com billionaire Jeff Bezos, is working on a spacecraft that could carry astronauts to the space station…Blue Origin…completed a systems requirement review of its orbital Space Vehicle…The Boeing Co. is developing its CST-100 capsule for NASA's potential use as a taxi for space station astronauts…test flights could begin in 2015-2016…Sierra Nevada Corp. is developing a mini-shuttle known as the Dream Chaser…The first free-gliding drop tests are planned for later this year, and…the Dream Chaser could be operational by 2016…”
Supercomputing & GPUs
60.    ARM supports European research on GPU programming  http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4373938/ARM-European-research-on-GPU-programming-language  “Processor licensor ARM…is a key participant in a European collaborative research project that is aiming to develop a language to boost the programmability of accelerator hardware, such as graphics processing units (GPUs). The three-year CARP project – for Correct and Efficient Accelerator Programming – aims to introduce innovations in programming language design and implementation and use of formal verification techniques…ARM is joined in the project by Monoidics Ltd. (London, England), Realeyes Data Services Ltd. (London, England) and Rightware Oy (Espoo, Finland) as well as researchers from universities and institutes in England, France, Germany and the Netherlands. The researchers aim to provide:  a performance increase of at least 4x when comparing optimized code with non-optimized code, on multiple platforms…a reduction in energy consumption of at least 20 percent…automatic detection of at least 70 percent of known functional errors…a reduction of several orders of magnitude in time taken to design an application to run efficiently across multiple accelerator platforms…”
61.     CUDA 5 and Beyond  http://developer.nvidia.com/content/trenches-gtc-cuda-5-and-beyond  “…Mark Harris…walked us through the major features of the upcoming CUDA 5.0 release, and also took some time to share a vision for the future of GPU and massively parallel programming…The four aspects of CUDA 5 that Mark highlighted were: Dynamic parallelism…GPU object linking…NVIDIA Nsight, Eclipse Edition…GPUDirect for clusters (RDMA)…Dynamic Parallelism, made possible by the new Kepler architecture…means…developers…are no longer restricted to launching kernels from the host-side only…GPU Kernels Can Spawn More GPU Kernels…dynamic parallelism was the secret in making the new n-body simulation possible (at 280k particles, this was a 10-fold increase over the previous generation demo). In the vast majority of our simulations the “interesting stuff” (and hence compute work) is non-uniformly distributed in the domain. With dynamic parallelism, the kernel can now detect regions where more “action” is taking place and devote more compute power (threads) to them…GPUDirect RDMA in Kepler will allow one GPU to access another GPU’s memory across the network -- an extension of the peer-to-peer mode of two devices on a single node we all know and love…CUDA has become more than a parallel extension to C, it is a parallel programming platform…”

*****

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