2013/07/09

NEW NET Weekly List for 09 Jul 2013

Below is the final list of technology news and issues for the Tuesday, 09 Jul 2013, 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 Weekly Top Ten, (pre-NEW NET, based on potential or immediate impact and/or general tech interestingness)
1.        Facebook's Android App Vacuumed Up Your Phone Number Without Permission (# 15)
2.       Two malware programs help each other stay on computers (# 16)
3.       Garmin HUD projects directions from smartphone onto your windshield (# 25)
4.       Alternatives For Every Google Product Known To Man (# 33)
5.        Outbox, The Startup That Digitizes Your Postal Mail (# 38)
6.       Coding and 3D printers on curriculum for UK primary schools (# 39)
7.        Battery-Powered Airplanes Are Nearing Reality (# 40)
8.       Chicago library’s new “pop-up maker lab” (# 52)
9.       BOMfu: an open source hardware bill-of-materials collaborative writing tool (# 55)
10.     SpaceX's Grasshopper reaches 1000’, has perfect landing (# 60)
The ‘net
11.      Gigabit Internet and phone service for $48 a month  http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/07/gigabit-internet-and-phone-service-for-48-a-month-it-really-exists/  “…In a small part of Vermont, thanks to an ambitious local telco and $116 million in federal funds, residents can buy gigabit Internet and phone service for prices starting at $48 a month. Gigabit Internet is ever so slowly inching its way through the US, but typically it costs a bit more than what these Vermont residents are paying. If you're one of the very lucky people who live in a city with Google Fiber, you're paying $70 a month for gigabit Internet…It's a fair price based on the market—Sonic.net has gigabit Internet for $70 in parts of California, and the new gigabit Seattle costs $80 per month…”
12.     State Department bureau spent $630,000 on Facebook 'likes'  http://washingtonexaminer.com/article/2532629  “State Department officials spent $630,000 to get more Facebook "likes," prompting employees to complain to a government watchdog that the bureau was "buying fans" in social media…The department's Bureau of International Information Programs spent the money to increase its "likes" count between 2011 and March 2013…The spending increased the bureau's English-language Facebook page likes from 100,000 to more than 2 million and to 450,000 on Facebook's foreign-language pages. Despite the surge in likes…the effort failed to reach the bureau's target audience, which is largely older and more influential than the people liking its pages…”  
13.     Dropbox Blows Up the Box, Connecting Every App, File, and Device  http://www.wired.com/business/2013/07/dropbox/  “…since starting Dropbox in 2007, Houston and co-founder Arash Ferdowsi have…set out to solve a simple, irritating problem and never got distracted…They focused on finding the most elegant way to sync files across devices, so you wouldn’t have to email them to yourself…The result is a product used by 175 million people — and a company valued at billions of dollars…Today, at Dropbox’s first-ever developers conference, the company is officially launching a new set of coding tools designed to push Dropbox into every corner of your digital life. Not content to stay sequestered inside the box, the company’s co-founders are unveiling ways for developers to meld their service with every app on every device you own…Houston wants Dropbox to become the “spiritual successor to the hard drive…a way for all your digital stuff to follow you everywhere, regardless of device, operating system, or app…”
14.     Surgery center posts prices online, creates price war  http://kfor.com/2013/07/08/okc-hospital-posting-surgery-prices-online/   “An Oklahoma City surgery center is offering a new kind of price transparency, posting guaranteed all-inclusive surgery prices online. The move is revolutionizing medical billing in Oklahoma and around the world. Dr. Keith Smith and Dr. Steven Lantier launched Surgery Center of Oklahoma 15 years ago, founded on the simple principle of price honesty. “What we’ve discovered is health care really doesn’t cost that much,” Dr. Smith said. “What people are being charged for is another matter altogether…When we first started we thought we were about half the price of the hospitals,” Dr. Lantier remembers. “Then we found out we’re less than half price. Then we find out we’re a sixth to an eighth of what their prices are. I can’t believe the average person can afford health care at these prices.”…Their first out-of-town patients came from Canada; soon everyday Americans caught on. Matthew Gang, 22, tore his patella tendon, dislocating his knee-cap playing basketball earlier this year. Gang is from California and he is uninsured. Surgery in his home-state was going to be about $30,000. The posted price at Surgery Center of Oklahoma was $5,700, one-fifth the price…”
Security, Privacy & Digital Controls
15.     Facebook's Android App Vacuumed Up Your Phone Number Without Permission  http://readwrite.com/2013/06/28/facebooks-android-app-vacuumed-up-your-phone-number-without-permission  “Yesterday, Facebook put out a call for volunteers to beta test updates to its Android application. You have to wonder how that's going for them, given news that the Facebook has been logging the phone numbers of anyone who launched that app—whether they have a Facebook account or not. Without permission, of course. Facebook just confirmed…that it did store the phone numbers of its app users as the result of a bug…”
16.     Two malware programs help each other stay on computers  http://www.pcworld.com/article/2043363/two-malware-programs-help-each-other-stay-on-computers.html  “Two malicious software programs that help each other stay on computers are proving difficult to remove…One of the malware programs, called Vobfus, was detected in September 2009. It is known as a downloader, or a program that downloads other pieces of code. Once Vobfus infects a computer, it downloads from a remote command-and-control server a program called Beebone, which is another kind of downloader that installs other malicious programs on a computer. The two work together, downloading variants of the other that are not immediately detected by antivirus products…”
17.     German minister: Stop using U.S. Web services to avoid NSA spying  http://www.zdnet.com/german-minister-stop-using-u-s-web-services-to-avoid-nsa-spying-7000017631/  “Germany's interior minister has a solution to prevent the U.S. spying on its citizens. Don't use Facebook, Google, Microsoft services…Hans-Peter Friedrich told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday that "whoever fears their communication is being intercepted in any way should use services that don't go through American servers."…A German delegation is heading to Washington, D.C. next week to meet with U.S. officials to discuss whether EU diplomats were being spied upon”
18.     How To Opt Out Of AT&T's Plan To Sell Everything It Knows About You And Your Smartphone Use  http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2013/07/03/how-to-opt-out-of-atts-plan-to-sell-everything-it-knows-about-you-and-your-smartphone-use/  “Your smartphone knows a lot about you. It’s with you all the time. It knows which apps you use. It knows which websites you visit. And it knows your gender, your age, and even how fit you are. These are all things that advertisers would love to know about you, and smartphone companies are starting to give it to them…in its most recent privacy policy change, carrier competitor AT&T T revealed that it wants to hop on the sell-information-about-our-users bandwagon…a proposed change to AT&T’s privacy policy will allow the company to use customers’ wireless location information, “U-verse information” (AT&T’s television service), website browsing, mobile application usage, age and gender for reports to other customers…AT&T also plans to use the info to deliver more relevant ads to you…”
19.     Hacking tool caught harvesting industry-specific mobile phone numbers  http://www.v3.co.uk/v3-uk/news/2279445/hacking-tool-caught-harvesting-industryspecific-mobile-phone-numbers  “Security researchers from Webroot have uncovered an underground black market tool that harvests specific mobile phone numbers for use in cyber scams…Search and harvesting criteria options include region, city, type of company, age, sex, interests and job title…the crooks behind the harvesting tool are also offering crooks several other services. "Next to the actual harvesting of mobile phone numbers on demand, the vendor is also ‘vertically integrating' within the marketplace by also offering phone number verification services as well as actual SMS spamming/SMS based TDoS (telephony denial of service attack) services,"…Danchev…expects to see more mobile harvesting tools appear. "We expect to continue observing an increase in vendors offering cybercrime-as-a-service solutions with vertical market integration in mind, in an attempt by the cyber criminals operating them to occupy an even bigger market share within the TDoS and the SMS spam market segments…”
20.    AdBlock Plus lets some advertisers pay to play  http://www.salon.com/2013/07/05/adblock_plus_lets_some_advertisers_pay_to_play/singleton/  “…Millions of people use AdBlock Plus…AdBlock Plus is the single most popular extension…for Firefox. But I’m betting that a hefty percentage of those millions don’t realize that major advertisers, including Google, can pay to have some of their ads “whitelisted” — in essence, given a free pass through AdBlock Plus. The so-called “Acceptable Ads” feature is turned on by default, meaning that users have to specifically opt-out if they don’t want to see such ads…”
21.     ‘Restore The 4th’ galvanizes over 100 nationwide protests  http://venturebeat.com/2013/07/04/restore-the-4th-galvanizes-over-100-nation-wide-protests-against-nsa-prism-and-government-spying/  “…In a loosely coordinated campaign, the Internet Defense League is calling on netizens everywhere to Fight For The Future, along with organizations such as Reddit, Mozilla, 4Chan, the ACLU, the EFF, search engine DuckDuckGo, political advocacy group MoveOn, Internet humor site Cheezeburger, and many more. At the same time, the Restore the Fourth movement initially started on Reddit is quarterbacking protests in over 100 American cities…”
22.    In Secret, Court Vastly Broadens Powers of N.S.A.  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/07/us/in-secret-court-vastly-broadens-powers-of-nsa.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0  “…the nation’s surveillance court has created a secret body of law giving the National Security Agency the power to amass vast collections of data on Americans while pursuing not only terrorism suspects, but also people possibly involved in nuclear proliferation, espionage and cyberattacks…The rulings, some nearly 100 pages long, reveal that the court has taken on a much more expansive role by regularly assessing broad constitutional questions and establishing important judicial precedents, with almost no public scrutiny…The 11-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court…has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court, serving as the ultimate arbiter on surveillance issues and delivering opinions that will most likely shape intelligence practices for years to come…”  http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2013/07/06/nsa-rejecting-every-foia-request-made-by-u-s-citizens/  “Clayton Seymour, a 36-year-old IT specialist…recently sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the NSA, curious as to whether any data about him was being collected…“I am a generally law abiding citizen with nothing I can think of that would require monitoring,” Seymour wrote to me, “but I wanted to know if I was having data collected about me and if so, what.” So Seymour sent in an FOIA request. Weeks later, a letter from the NSA arrived explaining that he was not entitled to any information…Although these two programs have been publicly acknowledged, details about them remain classified and/or protected from release by statutes to prevent harm to the national security of the United States. To the extent that your request seeks any metadata/call detail records on you and/or any telephone numbers provided in your request, or seeks intelligence information on you, we cannot acknowledge the existence or nonexistence of such metadata or call detail records…”  [Reddit, Boing Boing and other influential tech organizations in favor of personal privacy rights should consider organizing  massive FOIA campaigns with the goal of documenting the lack of transparency about government monitoring of US citizens, with a long term goal of reversing the loss of personal privacy in the US – ed.]
23.    US agency baffled by modern technology, destroys mice to get rid of viruses  http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/07/us-agency-baffled-by-modern-technology-destroys-mice-to-get-rid-of-viruses/  “…In December 2011, the Department of Homeland Security notified both the EDA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that there was a potential malware infection within the two agencies' systems. The NOAA isolated and cleaned up the problem within a few weeks…EDA's CIO, fearing that the agency was under attack from a nation-state, insisted instead on a policy of physical destruction. The EDA destroyed not only (uninfected) desktop computers but also printers, cameras, keyboards, and even mice. The destruction only stopped—sparing $3 million of equipment—because the agency had run out of money to pay for destroying the hardware…total cost to the taxpayer of this incident was $2.7 million: $823,000 went to the security contractor for its investigation and advice, $1,061,000 for the acquisition of temporary infrastructure (requisitioned from the Census Bureau), $4,300 to destroy $170,500 in IT equipment, and $688,000 paid to contractors to assist in development a long-term response…”
24.    White House gives Homeland Security control of all communication systems  http://rt.com/usa/white-house-systems-order-142/  “The White House has finally responded to criticism over US President Barack Obama’s hushed signing last week of an Executive Order that allows the government to command privately-owned communication systems and acknowledges its implications. When President Obama inked his name to the Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions Executive Order on July 6, he authorized the US Department of Homeland Security to take control of the country’s wired and wireless communications — including the Internet — in instances of emergency…”
Mobile Computing & Communicating
25.    Garmin HUD projects directions from smartphone onto your windshield  http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-57592594-48/garmin-hud-projects-directions-onto-your-windshield/  “Smartphones have pretty much taken over as the default navigation tool for many drivers…Today, Garmin announced a new way to interact with its StreetPilot and Navigon smartphone navigation apps: the HUD. HUD -- short for head-up display -- sits on the dashboard at the base of the windshield, where it projects navigation data upward into the driver's line of sight, either onto a transparent film affixed to the windshield glass or a reflector lens that attaches to the HUD device…HUD will automatically adjust the brightness of its projections, so that the display remains visible in direct sunlight or at night…HUD's data is provided by one of Garmin's navigation apps -- either Navigon or StreetPilot -- on an Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone 8 smartphone…In addition to turn arrows, distance to the next turn, current speed and speed limit, HUD can also display the estimated time of arrival, graphic lane guidance, traffic delays, upcoming safety camera locations, excessive speed warnings…Garmin HUD will carry an MSRP of $129.99 when it becomes available this summer. Factor in at least an additional $29.99 for Garmin's StreetPilot or Navigon app for your smartphone that you'll need…”
26.    Rise Of The Telepresence Robots  http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2013/06/27/rise-of-the-telepresence-robots/  “I’m exploring the headquarters of Suitable Technologies…passing leather couches, paintings and large indoor plants. Only I’m not really here; I’m on a laptop at my desk in downtown San Francisco, roughly 30 miles away…I’m controlling a Beam, a motorized stand with a 17-inch flat screen that displays my face. The screen sits at a 5-foot-2-inch median between a standing and sitting human, or what Suitable calls “locals.” Suitable CEO Scott Hassan walks up to me to say hello, fist-bumps the screen, then invites me on a walk-and-talk around his office and onto a large assembly room floor. The wide-angle lens helps me avoid crashing into walls and doors…Hassan and a handful of competitors in Silicon Valley believe this is how knowledge workers will communicate in the future, avoiding the energy-sapping inefficiencies of air travel and freeway commutes…It’s this ability to move around and facilitate impromptu meetings that sets telepresence bots apart from the fixed-desktop videoconferencing…Hassan started a robotics research company called Willow Garage prior to Suitable Technologies…The Beam was born when a few Willow Garage engineers who’d worked on the PR2 built the Texai, a custom-built rig that carried a screen running Skype. It even had a cameo as Sheldon’s “Shelbot” on The Big Bang Theory…”
27.    Amazon slashes price of Kindle Fire HD to $169  http://crave.cnet.co.uk/mobiles/kindle-fire-hd-cut-to-139-following-nook-hd-discount-50011660/  “Amazon has slashed £20 off the price of its Kindle Fire HD tablet, with the ebook-wrassling slate now costing £139. That price gets you the ad-supported version of the tablet…The discount…possibly comes in response to Barnes & Noble's recent price cut, which saw the rival Nook HD tablet's cost shrunk to £99…Stateside shoppers will be pleased to know that the US model has also been discounted, with the lowest capacity ad-supported option moving from $199 to $169…the Kindle Fire HD still doesn't have the power to download movies for offline viewing, and instead makes you stream flicks over Lovefilm…the Kindle Fire HD falls down in comparison to the Nexus 7, which is powerful, and gets you access to videos, music, movies and ebooks from all manner of sources…”
28.    FCC approves Softbank's $21.6 billion bid for Sprint Nextel  http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57592486-94/fcc-approves-sprint-softbank-deal/  “The Federal Communications Commission has given its nod of approval in regard to SoftBank's $21.6 billion bid for Sprint Nextel…The FCC…voted unanimously to approve SoftBank's buy of Sprint as well as…mobile broadband provider Clearwire…the Commission has found that the…SoftBank-Sprint-Clearwire transactions would serve the public interest…The increased investment in Sprint's and Clearwire's networks is likely to accelerate deployment of mobile broadband services and enhance competition in the mobile marketplace, promoting customer choice, innovation, and lower prices…”
Apps
29.    Yahoo Buys Qwiki for $50 Million  http://allthingsd.com/20130702/yahoo-buys-qwiki-for-50-million-like-atd-said/  “…Yahoo…bought Qwiki, the…startup that makes an Apple iPhone app that allows users to turn photos, music and videos into short movies automatically. ATD had reported a $40 million to $50 million price tag…Yahoo said it will not…kill off the brand…Qwiki recently released that app, but began as a multimedia search offering, with another iPad app that creates video summaries of search terms, as well as other video-creation tools for storytelling…last year it hooked up with…ABC News on a publishing platform to quickly create interactive stories…While all that pivoting seems unusual, the company recently settled on its mobile-only focus…”
30.    Smartphone apps that monitor how you drive  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/news/10110097/Smartphone-apps-that-monitor-how-you-drive.html  “If telematics aren't already in your life, they will be pretty soon. Insurers are increasingly using the electronic recording and sending of data as a means of judging exactly how much of a risk drivers pose…some insurance companies now have apps that sit on your phone and provide a snapshot of your driving. I tested two: one from Aviva and one from Confused.com. The Aviva app, available on the iPhone and Android platforms, uses GPS to monitor your driving for 200 miles. It scored me 6.1 out of 10 (apparently the average is 5.6) and informed me that I was a good enough driver to earn a 10 per cent discount on my premium. It even dished out advice: "Be a bit lighter on the accelerator pedal…The Confused.com MotorMate app is available on the same platforms and works in a similar way. This monitors you for 250 miles and gives more detail than the Aviva app. It even shows you on a map where events such as harsh braking, acceleration or speeding have occurred. Although I scored well for smoothness and anticipation, there were other elements of my driving that let me down…”
31.     Using a smartphone to log your every move  “…A company called ARO is building technology that automatically collects a more comprehensive, automatic record of your life. ARO is behind an app called Saga that automatically records every place that a person goes…ARO’s engineers are testing ways to use the barometer, cameras, and microphones in a device, along with its location sensors, to figure out what someone is up to and where…Software running on ARO’s servers creates and maintains a model of each user’s typical movements…occasionally sampling data from a phone’s barometer, cameras, and microphones will enable Saga to log details like when a person walked into a conference room for a meeting or visited Starbucks, either alone or with company…Saga recently began using the barometer present in many smartphones to distinguish locations close to one another…“That might be first floor versus third floor in the same building, but also inside a vehicle versus outside it, even in the same physical space.”…using a phone’s microphone to collect short acoustic fingerprints of different places can be a valuable additional signal of location and allow inferences about what a person is doing. “Sometimes we’re not sure if you’re in Starbucks or the bar next door…With acoustic fingerprints, even if the [location] sensor readings are similar, we can distinguish that…”
SkyNet
32.    Google Maps magic: Muggles can now take a virtual tour of Diagon Alley  http://crave.cnet.co.uk/software/harry-potters-diagon-alley-apparates-onto-street-view-50011657/  “…Harry Potter's Diagon Alley has been mapped on Google Street View, giving hopeless muggles a chance to explore the teenage wizard's local high street. The cobbled thoroughfare, where Potter purchased his first wand, is supposed to be secreted in the heart of London. Google's edition actually takes you to Hertfordshire, however, and indoors to the Warner Bros Harry Potter studio tour. Ambling virtually down the Alley -- which Potter himself incompetently pronounced 'diagonally' in a first Floo powder fumble -- I spied wizarding hotspots such as Slug & Jiggers apothecary and Flourish and Blotts bookshop. The Weasley twins' practical joke emporium is rendered in a lurid orange, promising 'shenanigans for all'…Eeylops Owl Emporium is also featured…”
33.    Alternatives For Every Google Product Known To Man  http://siliconangle.com/blog/2013/07/08/how-to-ditch-google-alternatives-for-every-google-product-known-to-man/  “…practically 99% of the world’s internet users (if we exclude China) must be using at least one Google service or product, and in most cases they’ll be using dozens…millions upon billions of people use their services…because…Google’s products are just so…good and so…ubiquitous that it’s almost impossible to stop using them…here’s my exhaustive guide to Google alternatives for just about every service it offers…”
34.    Google and Maker Faire’s annual summer camp promotes science and creativity to teens  http://thenextweb.com/google/2013/07/09/google-and-maker-faires-2nd-annual-summer-camp-returns-to-promote-science-and-creativity-to-teens/  “…Traditionally, children have been shipped off to summer camps where they’ll gain a bit of education…and have a grand ole’ time making new friends. But what about those teens that can’t go…Google and MAKE magazine…have a solution that it thinks will help educate and entertain young adults this year. Today marks the kickoff of the second annual Maker Camp, a 30-day virtual “do-it-yourself” camp run through the Google+ platform…Running through August 16, this six-week “camp” is looking to redefine the learning environment…”
35.    Google’s Citizen Map Makers Fill in the Blanks  http://blogs.wsj.com/scene/2013/07/09/googles-citizen-map-makers-fill-in-the-blanks/  “…A civil engineer by profession, Mr. Varias has discovered his secret passion – map making. Since 2009, he has been a volunteer for Google Map Maker. He’s now the third-most active mapper in the Philippines, contributing more than 46,000 edits and reviews over the past four years. “I just wanted to put my place of birth on the map,” said Mr. Varias explains of how he got started…Now he finds himself driving around his province of Cavite — staying up long after midnight or starting off early before his regular day job — just to put details on the map…”
36.    Why Google does the things it does the way it does  http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/jul/09/google-android-reader-why  “…Google doesn't seem to respond to the rules and logic used by the rest of the business world. It passes up what look like obvious opportunities, invests heavily in things that look like black holes, and proudly announces product cancellations that the rest of us would view as an embarrassment…Google follows a different set of rules than most other companies…in many ways Google is the company that truly thinks differently. It's not just marching to a different drummer; sometimes I think it hears an entirely different orchestra. Google's orchestra is unique because of three factors: corporate culture, governance, and personal politics…Manufacturing companies, the traditional foundation of a 20th century economy, plan in terms of big projects that take a long time to implement and require a lot of preparation…Google, works at a fundamentally different pace. Web software changes continuously…The faster and more flexibly you evolve, the more successful your products will be…Google is one of the first very large tech companies ever to pride itself on rapid response rather than rigid planning…Most big companies end up being run by professional managers who came up through business school or finance…Google is completely controlled by engineering PhDs. They speak the language of science rather than business…most reporters and analysts don't understand how fundamentally different the engineering mindset is from traditional business thinking…What makes Google unusual is its combination of an engineer's love of scientific method with the web's rapid iterative development…Google often behaves like a big bundle of short-term science experiments…To most companies, killing a product is a shameful thing…Google does the exact opposite – a couple of times a year it trumpets to the world that it's terminating products and services that millions of people love and rely on…Google isn't admitting failure, it's proudly demonstrating that scientific principles are in use…I'm not sure Google's senior management even thinks in terms of annual returns, let alone quarterly…I think Google's planning horizon goes to at least the year 2050…my point is, Google could be planning almost anything…the search business is so strong that I don't think Google is likely to make major changes in the way it works. Companies rarely change until they have to…Google is likely to continue its scientific management, and competitors are likely to continue countering it through vision, public communication, and product management…”
37.    Google restores ability to place voice calls from Hangouts  http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57592972-93/google-restores-ability-to-place-voice-calls-from-hangouts/  “Google released an update Tuesday that restores the ability to place phone calls through its Hangouts messaging system…The new functionality, which will roll out during the next couple of days, allows users of the service to place calls from Gmail, Google+, and the Chrome extension, holding conversations with up to 10 people at a time. Also, the Web giant announced that calls to the United States and Canada from countries where Hangouts is available are free of charge…Google said…"You'll start to see more Google Voice features integrated into Hangouts over time…”
General Technology
38.    Outbox, The Startup That Digitizes Your Postal Mail  http://techcrunch.com/2013/07/01/outbox-the-startup-that-digitizes-your-postal-mail-raises-5-million-series-a/  “Outbox…digitizes your postal mail then puts it online for access via web, iPhone, Android or iPad…“I had this crazy idea that I wanted a Dropbox for my snail mail,” explains Davis, whose experience with today’s postal mail challenges was influenced by the fact that his family had moved six times in eight years. “I had this overwhelming pent-up frustration with postal mail,”…Meanwhile, co-founder Baehr was drawn to the idea for the opposite reason — his family loves to send things through the mail…”
39.    Coding and 3D printers on curriculum for UK primary schools  http://crave.cnet.co.uk/software/coding-and-3d-printers-on-curriculum-in-schooling-shake-up-50011666/  “Students will be learning to code in schools from as young as 5, in the latest curriculum shake-up to hit the UK. Education secretary Michael Gove's spangly new agenda for schools will see primary school children ditching word-processor training in favour of the creation and testing of computer programs…"Three-dimensional printers will become standard in our schools -- a technology that is transforming manufacturing and the economy."…Under the new curriculum…7-year-olds will also be taught computer-aided design…Do you think kids should learn to code? Can educational facilities function when every child is able to hack into school sprinkler systems?…”
40.    Battery-Powered Airplanes Are Nearing Reality  http://www.technologyreview.com/news/516576/once-a-joke-battery-powered-airplanes-are-nearing-reality/  “Last month Siemens and EADS demonstrated a new gas-electric vehicle capable of carrying two people and their luggage 900 kilometers—roughly the distance from New York to Detroit—between refuels and recharges. The prototype was not a car, but a small two-seater airplane. The hybrid plane is similar to the Chevrolet Volt in that it relies on an electric motor and uses a gas engine as backup…The achievement presages what is likely to be a big shift toward hybrid propulsion in airplanes…“Within this decade, we will certainly see hybrid electric aircraft entering the market,” says Frank Anton, who heads the hybrid aircraft efforts at Siemens. Four-seat hybrid aircraft are likely within that time frame, he says, but even 19 seaters are possible before the decade is out. Anton predicts that eventually we will see 100-passenger hybrid aircraft that use half as much fuel as today’s airplanes…”
41.     Can Hi-Tech Avatars Promote Real-Life Weight Loss?  http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2013/07/01/can-hi-tech-avatars-promote-real-life-weight-loss  “Watching an avatar exercise and learn healthy habits in a virtual community might help people shed excess weight…An avatar is the graphical or physical representation of the user, in video games or online…"This pilot study showed that you don't have to be a gamer to use virtual reality to learn some important skills for weight loss,"…The new study included eight overweight women who once a week watched a 15-minute DVD featuring an avatar demonstrating healthy weight-loss behaviors…At the end of four weeks, the women had lost an average of 3.5 pounds, which Napolitano called a fairly typical amount for traditional diet plans…it's hoped that…people using this type of program would be much more likely to establish long-term healthy habits and keep the weight off for good…”
42.    Redesigned Window Stops Sound But Not Air  http://www.technologyreview.com/view/516766/redesigned-window-stops-sound-but-not-air-say-materials-scientists/  “Noise pollution is one of the bugbears of modern life. The sound of machinery, engines, neighbours and the like can seriously affect our quality of life and that of the other creatures that share this planet…the notion of creating a barrier that absorbs sound while allowing the free of passage of air seems…entirely impossible…These guys have come up with a way to separate sound from the air in which it travels and then to attenuate it. This has allowed them to build a window that allows air to flow but not sound…Kima and Lee’s…resonance chamber is actually very simple—it consists of two parallel plates of transparent acrylic plastic about 150 millimetres square and separated by 40 millimetres, rather like a section of double-glazing about the size of a paperback book…To maximise this efficiency, they drill a 50 millimetre hole through each piece of acrylic. This acts as a diffraction element causing any sound that hits the chamber to diffract strongly into it…the new designs have some interesting applications…if we are in a combined area of sounds from sea waves of low frequency and noises from machine operating at a high frequency, we can hear only the sounds from sea waves with fresh air…”
43.    Emerging Facial Recognition Technology  http://www.forbes.com/sites/mergermarket/2013/07/09/big-brothers-tracking-shines-light-on-emerging-facial-recognition-technology/  “…Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) is one area where large technology and security firms are looking for buys. What is surprising from the Snowden leaks, so far, is the one-dimensional nature of the text and voice data that were intercepted, stored and analyzed by private contractors at SAIC…Northrop Grumman…Narus…and Booz Allen, said one industry source…big data software and storage capacity currently exists to construct a truly three-dimensional profile of, well, anyone with a digital image online. “Defense is…the biggest business,”…cyber security, biometric data collection and surveillance is the name of the game, and not just for Big Brother, but increasingly for enterprise and consumer security applications…Whether you know it or not, FRT is becoming an everyday fact of life, said Joe Rosenkrantz…From the Department of Defense, to local police departments, to big box retailers, and of course Facebook and Google, FRT is now a reality of modern life…“Look, its not a question of if your computer, car, or house will use biometric-based security. It’s a matter of when,” said McAfee CTO…McAfee in partnership with its parent, Intel, and Nuance, launched LiveSafe, which is an unlimited cross-device security system that uses facial and voice biometric data to authenticate user access, and which is geared towards the individual consumer …”
Leisure & Entertainment
44.    Samsung buys Boxee  http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57592174-93/samsung-buys-boxee-for-about-$30-million-reports-says/  “…Samsung has purchased Boxee…"This will help us continue to improve the overall user experience across our connected devices."…Boxee was among the first companies to offer a product that streams movies and shows from Internet services directly to the TV. But as the market for that grew more competitive with the likes of Roku, Apple TV…Boxee has struggled to make its voice heard…As it broadened itself away from open-source software, it turned to services like cloud-based DVR…”
45.    Microsoft to close MSN TV service  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23225498  “Microsoft will close its subscription-based internet television service MSN TV at the end of September…Microsoft purchased the service - originally WebTV - for $425m (£285m) in 1997 and rebranded it MSN TV in 2001. It was the predecessor of many modern internet TV services and requires a significant amount of hardware including a set-top box and bespoke keyboard. It enables customers to check email, use MSN chat services and share photos online…”
Entrepreneurism and Technology
46.    The Pros and Cons of Startup Accelerators  http://mashable.com/2013/06/11/startup-accelerator-growth/  “A startup accelerator is built to foster rapid growth of its portfolio companies. It's a man-made perfect storm of mentorship, access to technology, office space and an innovative community, packed into a short time frame…While each accelerator has nuances, programs tend to share several traits: Startups apply to be part of a program lasting a few months, in which they obtain mentorship, office space and funding, usually in exchange for company stock…Y Combinator (YC), the original accelerator…sprouted two billion-dollar startups (Airbnb and Dropbox) since the accelerator's…the concept of an accelerator itself is being repeated, with everyone from Chile to Nike launching their own version of the program…TechStars, which launched two years after YC, has yet to produce a billion-dollar company…For any newer accelerator, it's almost too soon to value portfolio companies. It seems another accelerator is launched every day — there are nearly 200 — but while the newer programs follow a similar process as TechStars and YC, they can't boast the same star-studded list of mentors that make the leading programs so desirable…”
47.    Apple hires fashion exec, probably to boost its wearable computing efforts  http://gigaom.com/2013/07/02/apple-adds-a-new-special-projects-executive-hires-former-fashion-exec/  “Apple…hired a former fashion executive from Yves Saint Laurent to be the head of “special projects.”…Paul Deneve will report directly to CEO Tim Cook. Could he be the one that helps Apple figure out how to sell wearable devices to the masses? Deneve was the President and CEO of Yves Saint Laurent and before that worked at other fashion houses…Deneve’s sales and marketing background and understanding of the luxury goods industry would seem to indicate he’ll be doing something…related to a totally new product category Apple is expected to enter…wearable devices…Apple is getting set to release some sort of smartwatch…That’s more akin to a luxury fashion accessory than a consumer electronics device. At Courreges, Deneve was charged with selling really expensive sunglasses — perhaps Cook wants him to replicate that success with Apple watches…”
Design / DEMO
48.    The Future Of UX Design: Tiny, Humanizing Details  http://www.fastcodesign.com/1672922/the-future-of-ux-design-tiny-humanizing-details  “…Saffer--Director of Interaction Design at Smart Design--wrote a whole book inspired by one of his favorite Eames quotes: "The details are not the details. They make the design." Saffer’s book, titled Microinteractions, takes Eames’s maxim to heart…when you’re working on such a macro scale, the details sometimes get lost, and it’s the details that make systems feel more human, and more humane…what is a "microinteraction," anyway? According to Saffer, it’s a product use case boiled down to a single moment, focused on a single task. Unlocking your smartphone is a microinteraction; so is the chiming sound that plays when you boot up Windows or OS X. But microinteractions aren’t restricted to computers. "They are everywhere: in the devices we carry, the appliances in our house, even embedded in the environments we live and work in…”
49.    Great Corporate Design Culture  http://www.forbes.com/sites/berlinschoolofcreativeleadership/2013/07/05/design-think-smackdown-braun-1960s-v-apple-2000s/  “The design world holds up Braun GmbH in the 1950s – 1970s as one of the greatest demonstrations of design culture. Its closest peer is Apple Inc. between 1997 – 2012, during the second stint of Steve Jobs as CEO…what lessons can we draw between the two companies during their heyday?...here is my analysis…1) Braun & Apple Cultivated Stars, “Great Groups,” & A Creative Culture…2) You Must Have Leaders Who Know & Respect Design… 3) The Design Should Be Simple, Reduced & Easy to Use…4) Consider How People Live (Or Want To Live) When Designing Products…5) Both Companies Had Moments of Disruption…6) A Design-centered Company & Culture Is Difficult To Maintain Long-term…”
DHMN Technology
50.    Improving 3-D Printing by Copying Nature  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/07/130707-3d-printing-biomimicry-green-design-science/  “…One big problem with 3-D printing in its current form, said Benyus, is that many of the printers rely on toxic building materials, in the form of an increasing array of polymers (plastics), resins, and metal powders. "Some 'makers' [3-D printer users] are starting to see their skin reacting, and when you look at the material data safety sheets for these materials you see serious warnings,"…That's a concern, because people are using the printers in their homes and inhaling the fumes…"We shouldn't have to wash our clothes after we use a 3-D printer, or ask our sons or daughters to take out the hazardous waste trash,"…Benyus argues that all the materials used in 3-D printing should be common and safe for anyone to handle. They should be sourced from local feedstocks, and at the end of their lives, they should be "unzippable" into reusable materials…The key to making it truly sustainable, she said, lies in mimicking how a natural ecosystem functions…”
51.     The Future Of Flight: 3-D Printed Planes  http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-06/future-flight-planes-will-be-printed  “…GE Aviation quietly purchased two small 3-D–printing companies, Morris Technology and Rapid Quality Manufacturing, and in doing so made a loud statement: 3-D printing will shape the future of aircraft. For the past decade, aerospace manufacturers have used additive printing to prototype select parts…“We can make the first batch of parts faster than any toolmaker can make the molds and jigs,” says Brett Lyons, a materials and process engineer at Boeing Research & Technology…Companies have an increasing number of printing techniques to choose from, such as electron-beam melting, which, like SLS, makes production-grade aerospace parts. They can also print with many materials, including titanium, ceramic, and resin. Arcam, a 3-D–printer manufacturer in Sweden, is working with select labs to develop new materials…companies are now using 3-D printing to create working parts, not just prototypes…Perhaps the most audacious plan comes from Bastian Schaefer, a cabin engineer with Airbus who designed a printable private jet…he will begin printing the smaller parts now and hopes to complete his plane by 2050…”
52.    Chicago library’s new “pop-up maker lab”  http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/07/3d-printing-for-all-inside-chicago-librarys-new-pop-up-maker-lab/  “If you've ever had a hankering to try out a 3D printer, a laser cutter, or a milling machine without dropping thousands of your own hard-earned dollars, the Harold Washington Library in Chicago is the place to be…Harold Washington has become the first major urban library to open a pop-up "maker lab," allowing members of the general public the opportunity to experiment with the cutting-edge technologies…the Chicago Public Library (CPL) system is already looking forward to where this project will go next. "There's more buzz about this on social media than anything we've ever done,"…”
53.    Madison goes 3-D: City a potential hotbed for 3-D printing  http://host.madison.com/news/local/writers/pat_schneider/madison-goes--d-city-a-potential-hotbed-for-/article_f5c1e6f6-efa3-5dcd-8598-ac5cdb9d36ad.html  “You’ve probably caught some of the headlines about amazing 3-D printing feats: a prosthetic beak for an injured eagle in Idaho, semi-automatic guns in Texas, a new windpipe for a toddler in Michigan…Madisonians, from scientists to businesses to hobbyists, are right up there in the eye-opening world of 3-D printer creations. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are advancing research and new technology with 3-D printing, including taking preliminary steps toward human organ repair. Area businesses routinely use the process to design new products. And your neighbor might be using a desktop 3-D printer to make doodads or parts for household repair projects…while several 3-D printer users I spoke with cautioned that the hype around 3-D technology might be overblown, the process is clearly no longer just the preserve of big-ticket business users or well-funded researchers…”
54.    3D-printing with Terminator 2-style liquid metal at room temperature  http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57592867-1/3d-printing-with-liquid-metal-at-room-temperature/  “A new method for printing 3D structures and wires from liquid metal opens up possibilities for flexible and stretchable electronic connections…Researchers took a liquid metal alloy of gallium and indium at room temperature and made more than just a puddle. They made a 3D figure. They made a wire. They even made tiny letters. The remarkable occurrence was that it all held together…The process uses a syringe needle to dollop tiny spheres of metal together. A thin oxide skin holds it all together and prevents the printed structures from just collapsing into metal blobs. It can be used to create extruded metal wires or put together tiny structures crafted from spheres. The extruded wires are both flexible and stretchable, opening up possibilities for 3D-printing connections between electronic components …”
Open Source Hardware
55.     BOMfu: an open source hardware bill-of-materials collaborative writing tool  http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/other/4417959/Open-source-hardware-and-a-BOMfu-beta-thon  “…As with any engineering effort (or anything for that matter), the devil's in the details, and for open source hardware, it's scraping together the BOM [bill of materials] that you'd need as the foundation for your own designs. One of the more interesting efforts to address this is BOMfu - a collaborative writing tool for creating BOMs for open source hardware projects. BOMfu looks to be taking a different tack from other worthwhile open-source-BOM approaches such as Aligni, KitBOM, or Bomfire in looking to build a community controlled repository…”
56.    Simple Circuits – An Open Source Hardware Analog Arsenal  http://opensourcehardwarejunkies.com/2013/06/simple-circuits-an-open-source-hardware-analog-arsenal/  “…You see an awesome project online and you think “I am going to make that rad thing-a-ma-jig”.  It looks easy after all, and if that 5th grader and his dad did it, then darn it – so can I…So you pull out your trusty reference – the internet – and start searching around for solutions…Nothing happens…Finally you get something working…There is a simpler way. Or at least Roy and Shawn of SimpleCircuits would have you believe so.  They are developing an Open Source Hardware tool kit of simple circuit boards that embody common analog solutions…”  [you can tell when a new technology segment is starting to gain traction by the emergence of new tools for participating in that tech segment; BOMfu and Simple Circuits are two examples of new tools for OSHW – ed.]
57.     OpenReflex: Open source 3D printable SLR camera  http://www.3ders.org/articles/20130707-openreflex-open-source-3d-printable-slr-camera.html  “…intructables user Léo Marius (aka Bozardeux) has managed to build an entire 3D printable and full operational camera. The OpenReflex is an Open-Source analog camera with a mirror Viewfinder and an awesome finger activated mechanic shutter…it's compatible with any photographic lens…All the pieces easily printable on an recent RepRap-like ABS 3D-printer without using support material…The source files are available under the CreativeCommon By-Sa license…The OpenReflex includes a film receiver, a shutter, and a viewfinder. The film receiver will carry the film (35mm) and the Shutter will expose your film at around 1/60°s…To make the camera you need a 3D-printer, a Vinyl cutter or Laser cutter, a glass cutter as well as screwdrivers, glasspaper, Sugru, screw and bolts that you can easily get from local hardware store. All parts can be printed on a desktop 3D printer and then be snapped together…”
Open Source
58.    Fedora 19 Linux Brings 3D Printing, Virtualization, Storage Updates  http://thevarguy.com/open-source-application-software-companies/fedora-19-linux-brings-3d-printing-virtualization-storage  “Fedora 19 (codenamed "Schrödinger's Cat") is officially out this week, and it's looking to be more than just another latest-and-greatest iteration of a popular open source, Linux-based operating system. From 3D printing tools to better support for virtualization and storage, this latest version of Fedora, the Linux distribution sponsored by Red Hat (RHT), offers a lot that other leading Linux distributions currently don't…For starters, the new release benefits from a comprehensive slew of 3D printing software, such as the Skeinforge and OpenSCAD applications…”
59.    LibreOffice aims to speed spreadsheets with AMD GPU optimization  http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/07/libreoffice-aims-to-stop-spreadsheet-pain-with-amd-gpu-optimization/  “The makers of LibreOffice are teaming up with AMD so that the open source office suite can take greater advantage of graphics processing units (GPUs). The partnership is geared toward optimization for AMD's upcoming Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA)…"We traditionally had a big performance problem in Calc [the LibreOffice spreadsheet application] for large data sets," Michael Meeks, LibreOffice developer…LibreOffice has not generally been able to take advantage of the horsepower in GPUs, Meeks said…"HSA is an innovative computing architecture that enables CPU, GPU, and other processors to work together in harmony on a single piece of silicon by seamlessly moving the right tasks to the best suited processing element…”
Civilian Aerospace
60.    SpaceX's Grasshopper reaches 1000’, has perfect landing  http://mashable.com/2013/07/08/spacex-grasshopper-hovers-lands/  “SpaceX has released video footage of its Grasshopper rocket's latest test flight — and as you'll see, the reusable vehicle is reaching new heights…In the clip, the rocket soars to 1,066 feet — a record for the platform — hovers for a moment, then descends, balanced on its own exhaust, back to its launch pad for a precision landing…The rocket has proven it can successfully clear and hover at heights similar to that of Manhattan's Chrysler Building — an exponential step forward in the space transport company's move to pioneer what might best be described as space taxiing. Grasshopper is a 10-story vertical takeoff, vertical landing vehicle designed to test the technology that would be required to successfully send a rocket away from, and back to Earth…”
61.     Kickstarter ion thruster would speed space exploration using nanosatellites  http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/160630-new-kickstarter-ion-thruster-would-speed-space-exploration-using-nanosatellites  “…There’s another group of people…working to build spacecraft that can fit within 5-6 digit budgets rather than requiring yearly outlays from NASA or another national budget. Some of these programs have taken to Kickstarter…including a group…that wants to build the Next Small Thing in thruster technology…ion thrusters are a handy way of moving a modestly-sized spacecraft from point A to point B provided you don’t mind waiting a while for it to get there…The US, ESA, and Russia have all fielded multiple ion drive technologies…but most of these designs have still been fairly bulky. The team behind the CubeSat Ambipolar Thruster (CAT)…claim to have miniaturized a specific type of ion thruster to a size that would allow it to power a CubeSat satellite…The goal of the original CubeSat was to create a nanosatellite which could be deployed in orbit for a cost of $65,000 – $80,000, as opposed to the multiple millions of dollars you’d normally expect…”
Supercomputing & GPUs
62.    New language for GPU programming  http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2013/07/gpu-programming-language/  “…GPU…chips can be used for much more than just graphics. Google is using GPUs to model the human brain, and Salesforce leans on them as a way of analyzing data streaming across Twitter feeds. They’re particularly suited to what’s known as parallel processing, where thousands of tasks are executed at the same time. The trick is that you have to build new software that’s specifically designed to tap into these chips…a computer science Ph.D. candidate…wants to help with that. He just released a new programming language called Harlan dedicated to building applications that run GPUs. “GPU programming still requires the programmer to manage a lot of low-level details that often distract them from the core of what they’re trying to do,” says Eric Holk. “We wanted a system that could manage these details for the programmer, letting them be more productive and still getting good peformance from the GPU…”
63.    Hadoop + GPU: Boost performance of your big data project by 50x-200x?  http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/telecommunications/hadoop-gpu-boost-performance-of-your-big-data-project-by-50x-200x  “Hadoop, an open source framework that enables distributed computing, has changed the way we deal with big data. Parallel processing with this set of tools can improve performance several times over…can we make it work even faster? What about offloading calculations from a CPU to a graphics processing unit (GPU)…In theory, if the process is optimized for parallel computing, a GPU could perform calculations 50-100 times faster than a CPU…performance of an average CPU ranges from 15 to 130 GFLOPS…performance of Nvidia GPUs…varies within a range of 100-3,000+ GFLOPS…In some scenarios, a GPU can speed up computations by nearly five to 25 times per node. Some developers claim that if your cluster consists of several nodes, performance can be accelerated by 50x-200x…the creators of the MITHRA project achieved a 254x increase…”
Trends & Emerging Tech
64.    Five banking technology trends  http://www.gobankingrates.com/banking/five-impressive-developments-banking-technology-trends/  “…GoBan offers mobile bank accounts, with no overdraft fees, and over 40,000 free ATMs. The new platform…specifically designed for the smartphone generation…is primarily targeted towards Millennials looking for a fast, easy, and convenient way to bank…Below are several new banking technology trends that have already been introduced or that are expected to be introduced in the coming months…1. Digital Deposit Apps…2. Photo Bill Payment Apps…3. Smartphone Credit Card Scanners…4. Electronic Meetings…5. Mobile Payment Apps…”
65.    Five Home Tech Trends You Don't Want to Miss  http://finance.yahoo.com/news/five-home-tech-trends-you-don-t-want-to-miss-185024106.html  “…not so long ago…home automation was a $30,000 or $40,000 investment that only the rich and famous could afford…now all you need is an iOS or Android (GOOG) device to control your entire environment…Carroll sees these conveniences becoming as common as a television in the not-so-distant future. Take a look at the accompanying video to explore the top five high-tech trends you don't want to miss: 1. True Image technology that allows you to control your television, lights, curtains and more — all from your iPad…2. Mirrors that turn into televisions…3. Drawers that become your refrigerator…4. Voice-activated controls that allow you to power everything in your home on or off with a simple voice command…5. SmartEnergy solutions that can save you money by monitoring your energy usage in real time, giving you a read of how much you are spending in wattage and dollars…”

*****

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