NEW NET Weekly List for 19 Nov 2013

Starting with this week, we'll try out a new format for the weekly NEW NET list and the NEW NET meeting format. For the next several weeks we'll have three or four NEW NET participants contribute recent tech articles of interest to them. Those articles will be combined into the weekly list, and we'll discuss the interesting or important points about each of the articles. This format will periodically be tuned as we refine the new system...

Below is the final NEW NET (NorthEast Wisconsin Network for Entrepreneurism and Technology) list of technology news and issues for Wednesday, 20 November 2013. We won't be meeting this week due to a nasty bug (physiological, not computer-related) circulating in the Appleton area. See you next week!

NEW NET Weekly List For 20 Nov 2013

  1. Disruptions: A Digital Underworld Cloaked in Anonymity http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/17/disruptions-a-digital-underworld-cloaked-in-anonymity/  [The Silk Road story isn’t new, but I like how this article reads like a 1980's treatment for a cyberpunk story.] No sooner was the old Silk Road shut down than a new, supposedly improved Silk Road popped up. Other online bazaars for illegal guns and drugs are thriving. And the Dread Pirate Roberts — the old one, a new one, who knows? — is back, taunting the authorities. (The pseudonym is a reference to a character in the film “The Princess Bride” who turns out to be not one man but rather many men passing down the title.) Silk Road started as an underground online marketplace for illegal drugs. “It took the F.B.I. two and a half years to do what they did,” the Dread Pirate Roberts wrote last week on the new Silk Road site. “But four weeks of temporary silence is all they got.” ... “This underground has grown so widespread in recent years that entire international virtual communities and black markets have been spawned across the Internet to help facilitate trade between cyber criminals scattered in different parts of the world,” Mr. Chen said.
  2. Wolfram announces 'most important' project: a programming language that models the world. http://www.theverge.com/2013/11/14/5103446/wolfram-language-announced-intelligent-knowledge-based-programming  [When talking about this on This Week in Tech, one of the guests affectionately called Wolfram, the person most like a cartoon super villan active in tech today. Another guest went into a sidebar suggesting that by 2020 developers with a deep understanding of computers will be dumped in favor of ones with a deep understanding of sociology and related fields. The conversation took a different turn, but I would have liked to hear this discussed more in depth.] Wolfram's intention is to build a language that includes simple ways to do regularly complex tasks, from image processing, to creating graphs, to understanding natural language. "It becomes trivial to write a program that makes use of the latest stock price, computes the next high tide, generates a street map, shows an image of a type of airplane, or a zillion other things," writes Wolfram. Wolfram says that it'll be a general-purpose language — like C++ or Java — that can be used to create a variety of different applications. Unlike most languages, however, it won't rely heavily on external libraries that augment its abilities, as so many functions will be built straight in. "So in a sense inside the Wolfram Language we have a whole computable model of the world," Wolfram writes.

  1. Valve VR Prototype http://www.theverge.com/2013/11/19/5121206/valve-to-reveal-virtual-reality-prototype-big-plans-for-steam-support  “...Valve's...Steam Dev Days event, scheduled for mid-January in Seattle, includes the tantalizing promise of debuting "a prototype which demonstrates ... what affordable Virtual Reality (VR) hardware will be capable of within a couple of years...”
  2. Facebook losing to Snapchat  http://www.businessinsider.com/snapchat-edges-past-facebook-in-photos-2013-11  “On a daily basis, Snapchat users are now sending more "snaps," Snapchat's term for photos and videos shared over the network, than Facebook users are uploading photos. Snapchat users now send 400 million snaps daily...our sources at Facebook are still reporting that 350 million photos are uploaded daily...”
  3. The watchers dont like being watched  http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/11/boston-police-set-to-track-its-own-patrol-cars-via-gps-to-improve-dispatching/  “It looks like Boston’s Finest is going to be watched by its own. As the result of new contract negotiations between the City of Boston and the Boston Police Department, police cruisers will potentially be outfitted with GPS devices designed to monitor how cop cars move around the city...Unsurprisingly, some cops don’t like the new change. “No one likes it. Who wants to be followed all over the place?” said one officer...”
  4. Smart TV smart enough to snoop on you  http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/11/smart-tv-from-lg-phones-home-with-users-viewing-habits-usb-file-names/  “... Internet-connected TVs are watching you now. It sounds like the premise of a Philip K. Dick story, but it's not. A blogger has offered evidence that his Internet-connected television has been transmitting detailed information about his family's viewing habits, including the times and channels they watch and even the names of computer video files stored on connected USB drives...”
  5. Police get stung by encryption malware  http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/police-set-poor-example-paying-750-crytolocker-ransom  “...a Massachusetts police department...paid $750 for two Bitcoins - an online currency - to decrypt several images and word documents in its computer system...Lt. Gregory Ryan said...the virus did not affect the software program that the police department uses for police reports and booking photos...”
  6. Bill Gates still really emotional about Microsoft  http://www.theverge.com/2013/11/19/5121968/bill-gates-microsoft-ceo-search-shareholders-meeting  “Microsoft chairman Bill Gates held back tears today as he discussed the significance of his company's search for its next CEO..."We’ve got a commitment to make sure the next CEO is the right person for right time for the company we both love," said Gates, before visibly choking up...”
  7. I'm starting an app-ocalypse cult  http://mymerchantstory.com/the-appocolypse-the-app-overload-of-the-marketplace/  “Welcome to the APPocolypse, phones overloaded and overburdened with a multitude of digitally designed disasters that are destined to make our mobile screens look like a disorganized jumble of icons and names. There is a trend of exponential app growth in both Andriod and Iphone which shows no signs of slowing down, and it may be accelerating...”
  8. Looks like its time to switch to Firefox; Chrome thinks I'm too dumb to know what I'm doing http://blog.chromium.org/2013/11/protecting-windows-users-from-malicious.html  “...Many services bundle useful companion extensions, which causes Chrome to ask whether you want to install them (or not). However, bad actors have abused this mechanism, bypassing the prompt to silently install malicious extensions...Since these malicious extensions are not hosted on the Chrome Web Store, it’s difficult to limit the damage they can cause to our users. As part of our continuing security efforts, we’re announcing a stronger measure to protect Windows users: starting in January on the Windows stable and beta channels, we’ll require all extensions to be hosted in the Chrome Web Store...”
  9. This GPU has more RAM than my laptop  http://www.amd.com/us/press-releases/Pages/amd-announces-server-graphics-card-2013nov14.aspx?cmpid=social14543734  “..AMD today announced the new AMD FirePro™ S10000 12GB...graphics card, designed for big data high-performance computing (HPC) workloads for single precision and double precision performance...”


  1. Meet the Mini Metal Maker: A basic, sub-$1,000 3D printer that prints metal  [If sub-$1,000 3D printers that use metal instead of plastic can become as capable and widespread as the plastic substrate printers, it will open up new markets for home users and personal manufacturing - RJW] http://gigaom.com/2013/11/12/meet-the-mini-metal-maker-a-basic-sub-1000-3d-printer-that-prints-metal/  “...The...team behind the Mini Metal Maker wants to bring a limited form of metal 3D printing into maker and artist homes via their Indiegogo campaign. The machine prints metal clay, which is composed of metal flakes mixed with a binder and water...the metal clay is...then extruded out of a nozzle. It hardens as the nozzle builds up layers to create a 3D object. The clay then requires post-processing. It must be fired in a kiln, which removes the binder and water, leaving behind the metal. The Mini Metal Maker...prints at a resolution of 500 microns...the team plans to improve it to 200 microns before it ships...Compare that to the MakerBot Replicator 2′s 100 microns, and it’s not very impressive. But maybe crazy fine resolution isn’t as important for metal...Kits with all of the parts necessary for a buyer to assemble a Mini Metal Maker are going for $750 on Indiegogo. An assembled printer with clay included is $1,000. Buyers will have to supply their own kiln...”
  2. Has the self-driving car at last arrived?  [I personally have no desire to own a self-driving car (I thoroughly enjoy the current ‘road trip’ experience), but the opening sentences of this article certainly present compelling reasons for many people to want or use self-driving cars - RJW] http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/11/25/131125fa_fact_bilger?currentPage=all  “Human beings make terrible drivers. They talk on the phone and run red lights, signal to the left and turn to the right. They drink too much beer and plow into trees or veer into traffic as they swat at their kids. They have blind spots, leg cramps, seizures, and heart attacks. They rubberneck, hotdog, and take pity on turtles, cause fender benders, pileups, and head-on collisions. They nod off at the wheel, wrestle with maps, fiddle with knobs, have marital spats, take the curve too late, take the curve too hard, spill coffee in their laps, and flip over their cars. Of the ten million accidents that Americans are in every year, nine and a half million are their own...fault...”
  3. Google’s Broken Promises  [I remain convinced that Google is one of the more ethical and admirable tech companies, but it is true that some of their current policies and practices are 180 degrees away from those it launched with, and to a large extent, it seems likely due to the capitalistic / Wall Street need to grow and to continuously increase profits. Makes me wonder if Google would be more true to its origins if Jeff Bezos ran the company. - RJW] http://marketingland.com/google-broken-promises-65121  “...Google has gone back on major promises it made about search...as Google has entered its fifteenth year, it faces new challenges on how to deliver search products that are radically different from when it started...Google took the unprecedented step of turning one of its search products, Google Product Search, into a pure ad product called Google Shopping...Google Shopping is a different creature. No one gets listed unless they pay...Google once felt so strongly that this was a bad practice that when it went public in 2004, it called paid inclusion evil, producing listings that would be of poor relevancy and biased...It’s also hard to believe the same Google that can extract facts from pages across the Web to power its Knowledge Graph couldn’t have found a way to keep its free merchant feed submission process going...“There will be no banner ads on the Google homepage or Web search results pages,” Google promised in December 2005...Eight years later, Google’s testing big banner ads...the introduction of banners like these fly in the face of what Google’s founders...set out as their vision of how a good search engine should operate...But 15 years later, either that no longer holds true or Google is simply too embarrassed to discuss why it makes sense to do so now...Google was foolish to have made promises that it couldn’t keep...The simplistic vision that Larry Page and Sergey Brin had back in the day when they started a search engine no longer exists...”
  4. Pencil meets Paper: FiftyThree’s new $50 stylus for iPad joins acclaimed sketchbook app  [This article is included because of Bob’s new iPad Air and his potential interest in an artist’s stylus for his new toy - RJW] http://www.geekwire.com/2013/fiftythree-pencil-debut/  “...You might remember FiftyThree as the company behind Paper, which won the Apple 2012 iPad App of the Year. Today, they’re releasing Pencil as a companion to Paper. Since Paper debuted last year, one of the top requests from users was a better tool to write and draw with. FiftyThree has delivered in the form of Pencil, a souped-up stylus designed to mimic a physical pencil, pen and paintbrush — all in one device. “It’s like a multi-use tool that has all the best features of all those tools that you’ve been accustomed to using...”
  5. How Amazon Studios is going from grassroots idealist to Hollywood threat  [The disruptive innovation Amazon is bringing into the TV & movie industry is almost sure to be good for entertainment consumers, although it will likely be a multi-year period before some of the impacts are felt - RJW] http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57612150-93/how-amazon-studios-went-from-grassroots-idealist-to-hollywood-threat/  “...Amazon Studios...wants to...challenge Netflix, upend the traditional studios and, above all, persuade millions of people to sign up for Amazon Prime, the $79-a-year service for second-day shipping on some items and for access to streaming movies and TV shows...so Amazon is spending as much as cable heavyweight HBO and others to create programs with top stars...we've read this script before: Jeff Bezos bleeds millions...to...plow through an entrenched industry that he remakes in Amazon's image..."Alpha House," Amazon's first full series...will star John Goodman, and include cameos by Stephen Colbert and Bill Murray. "Doonesbury" creator Garry Trudeau...created the half-hour political comedy...When Roy Price...rolled out Amazon Studios...he...said...Anyone could...submit scripts...If the projects went to theatrical release, the creator would get $200,000, plus a $400,000 bonus if the movie earned $60 million at the box office..."We explicitly decided to include both an open online process of submitting ideas and have a robust traditional development process, reaching out to top talent...the goal was to get the best shows we could and to make progress quickly."...Amazon Studios put 14 pilots up for all customers to watch and rate...It used those customer ratings plus viewing data to help pick programs to make into full series...it made Amazon the first studio with ratings for its shows before they're really "shows"...Amazon is still starkly behind Netflix in several respects...Netflix commands...31 percent of the total volume during the peak part of the day. Amazon Video represented just 1.61 percent...Part of the problem is simple awareness...People think of Amazon Prime for its shipping bargains, he said, but most Prime subscribers -- estimated at 12 million people -- seem unaware that a premium video service comes with the membership...the writer and director of a pilot Amazon is shooting...said...working with Amazon was easier and better than with a typical studio. "Amazon had a business model that felt incredibly fast...The most fundamental way that Amazon differs from its competition, however, is...Amazon is a retailer...Prime subscribers spend between two and four times as much on Amazon as nonmembers do...Even the creator of "Alpha House" couldn't resist lampooning the oddity of...creating content to get more people to sign up for rush orders of blenders and Blu-Ray discs. At the New York premiere of the series...Garry Trudeau thanked Bezos...before addressing the audience. "We hope you enjoy our show," he said, "and will spread the word about our sex, our violence, and of course, our free two-day shipping...”
  6. The Geek Awakening [The intersection of an exploding volume of digitized secrets in the US and the changing socio-cultural norms of US netizens will most likely produce periodic cat-and-mouse Manning/Snowden episodes for years to come, resulting in both real life impacts and numerous books and movies based on the topic - RJW]  https://medium.com/state-of-play/379fa6f59327  “...The rise of...WikiLeaks and Anonymous has sparked something of a Geek Awakening...For the government, a large cadre of young, technologically sophisticated workers poses a complex challenge...That more leaks don’t happen... is a testament to the vast majority taking their confidentiality agreements seriously...Edward Snowden, Anonymous, WikiLeaks, and Bradley Manning — all...espousing similar ideals of radical anti-government transparency — represent...a renaissance of sorts in geek culture, with hacker ethics shifting into mainstream politics...Edward Snowden is not some aberration in the national security establishment. He is a harbinger...Manning...decided to send the purloined databases to WikiLeaks after he saw what was really happening in Iraq...Had he limited his leaking to the “Collateral Murder” video, that might be a compelling case. But Manning...released hundreds of thousands of other documents, detailing mundane...operational details of the wars...then leaked hundreds of thousands more secret diplomatic cables used by U.S. embassies...much like Manning, Snowden started with a possibly defensible act of whistleblowing but moved into a direct attack on the capacity of American agencies to function in the world...Edward Snowden is the latest byproduct of a counterculture stretching back to the 1960s that’s taken modern form as an informal hacker culture...The hacker ‘culture,’...is united around a main principle of distrusting of authority with an idealized commitment to civil liberties...The movement supporting leakers is...quintessentially liberal. It is a product of Western norms...A free press, checks and balances between the branches of government, and watchdog organizations are all based on the same commitment to distrusting authority and preserving civil liberties...Young people today are technologically savvy in a way their parents never could be...“I don’t see the problem as hacker culture so much as the growing technocracy of netizens,”...The netizen technocracy sees a barrier to information, from secret intelligence services to copyright holders restricting access to films and music, as inherently anti-democratic...the intelligence community...has grown monumentally since the 9/11 attacks...Nearly a million people have top secret clearance...If a million people...handle secrets, someone, somewhere is going to leak...The government is so large, and its secrets so vast, that it is increasingly impractical to classify so much information...the most likely response to Snowden’s leaks (and Manning’s) is going to be deeper dysfunction as agencies try to prevent future ones with more secrecy, tighter employee monitoring, and larger penalties for exposure. Secrets will matter more than ever to those who keep them and those who want to publish them, even while the standard of what a “secret” is drops so low as to become meaningless...”



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