"Whoosh Boom Splat" and Building Your Own Technology

It's fun to build your own technology products -- things you can play with, operate and have fun with -- and that's one of the premises of "Whoosh Boom Splat" by William Gurstelle.

Sometimes people in today's internet world get too wrapped up in online activities, interacting only with bits flowing across the series of tubes. It's essential to periodically pull back from the monitor or jack out of the 'net and get back into the physical world. Let your hands feel something other than a keyboard, mouse, joystick or other input device.

Toward that end, you should go out today and pick up a copy of "Whoosh Boom Splat", read it until you come to a project that appeals to you, make a list of parts to buy, then head over to Home Depot or a well-stocked friendly local hardware store. Building your own spud gun will give you a totally different level of satisfaction than building a website, watching a video clip on YouTube, IMing for an hour or playing video games until your eyeballs dry out.

To spread the homebuilt tech joy, you should also fill out a few forms for your local library, requesting they buy "Whoosh Boom Splat", subscribe to "Make" magazine and provide other current resources for people interested in building some neat and interesting tech toys.

Although it's not truly a homebuilt approach, another option is to check out Lego Mindstorms. It might be more the product of Lego designers than of the builder's brain, but it might also be the spark that gets someone interested in learning more about technology or robotics. Give your niece or nephew a Mindstorms kit along with a subscription to "Make", and you could be the catalyst that results in them growing up to design and build the NanoFactory Home Replicator (tm).

Mixing a healthy dose of physical fun with blazing bits and laser lighting is a good recipe for keeping your mind active and preventing sores on your posterior.

Excuse me now while I go build something in Second Life; almost time for the Dr. Dobb's Journal Life 2.0 Summit to start...



BarCampChicago Sign-up!

BarCampChicago sign-up begins less than one week after MinneBar -- register today to make sure you get a spot reserved for this great tech event!

Although everyone who showed up for BarCampChicago 2006 was able to participate, the 2007 event may be a different story. If the TECH cocktail event attendees decide they're interested in BarCampChicago, Jason may have to put a limit on how many people can sign up for barcamp. Hard to say what will happen, so be sure to sign up this weekend. Jason just put a note out today that registration is open, and already there are 26 people signed up.

It will be interesting to see how the weekend plays out for this barcamp. Jason is going hard-core, with a Friday night set-up and probable social event, Saturday noon start to the main event, and things carrying straight on (for some people) through until the wee hours of Sunday night.

For all those passionate about video, please consider participating in BarCampChicago 2007 and helping put together a video record of the event. Having a video clip of the event is a great way to explain to others what the event is about, a good tool to help sponsors decide if they want to support the event the following year, and a fantastic propaganda piece to get others excited about participating in barcamps or starting their own event. If you don't do video but know others who do, please send them a note suggesting they consider participating in BarCampChicago. For examples of barcamp videos, watch the San Francisco or Austin videos linked on BarCampChicago, or watch the Seattle Mind Camp 1.0 or Seattle Mind Camp 2.0 videos.

Another suggestion is to get people participating in the event who build tech stuff. Seeing technology that you can hold in your hands or put your hands on is a good change of pace from seeing or talking about code or doing stuff online. At MinneBar we had a great session by William Gurstelle, author of "Whoosh Boom Splat" and other books. He showed us one of his spud guns, although his demonstrations were fairly tame. Maybe we could talk him into coming down to Chicago and do a more lively session... There was also a MinneBar session about robots, but the ones discussed and demonstrated were pretty small -- it would be cool to have some of the larger ones such as those made by iRobot or others. How cool would it be to have a RobotWebcam going from session to session at BarCampChicago to show others around the world what the event was like. Maybe even give remote control to web visitors, letting each one control the unit for two minutes.

Lots of possibilities, lots of time to prepare for this next midwest tech unconference.

See you in the Windy City...



Basic Web Marketing for SMBs

If you start a new business in 2007 you most likely are planning to have a website for that business, and if you have a small or medium business (SMB) already, you either have a website or should have one.

Although a few small businesses may start up in 2007 without a website, the time and money it takes to establish at least a minimal presence on the web is well worth it. There are likely a higher percentage of SMBs started pre-2007 without a website than are for SMBs started during 2007, but even an established business would do well to consider launching a website or improving their web marketing in 2007.

Although you can find all the info you need online about effective web marketing, the overwhelming volume of web marketing information, both high quality and poor quality, will make most people's eyes glaze over. One approach to the problem is to start small and improve it as you have time. If you determine a website is critical or highly useful for your business, you'll probably need to spend money to pay a professional website designer. Building an effective website will help your business expand at the rate you've planned.

Because web marketing is becoming a useful and almost necessary tool for all SMBs, a 'user group' for Web Search, Marketing, and Search Engine Optimization (WSMS) was started last fall in the Green Bay, Wisconsin, area. The WSMS group meets about once per month, and the meeting dates can be found at http://wsms.wikispaces.com, with the next meeting scheduled for 01 May 2007. The meetings are intended for the person at an SMB who is responsible for managing or actually doing the company's web marketing. Meetings are free, open to the public and informal. The goal is to share and learn about web marketing for SMBs.

The WSMS wiki mentioned in the previous paragraph is being developed by members of the group to gather and refine knowledge about effective web marketing for your business. Over the next year the WSMS wiki should develop into a good guide for both the basics of SMB websites and for advanced web marketing and search engine optimizations (SEO) tips. The wiki also has tips for getting your website listed in local search engines.

If you don't yet have a website but would like a free one, come to the next WSMS meeting. Lisa Z will be talking about how she put together a free website for her band using the tools from Microsoft at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/officelive/default.aspx.

If you're an SMB owner, make sure you're taking advantage of the marketing impact of company websites. And if you don't have a website, or don't feel the one you have is effective, come to the WSMS meeting in Green Bay on 01 May 2007. We look forward to meeting you!



Having an Area of Expertise

Everyone should find something about which they can be passionate and should develop that interest into their area of expertise.

Developing a recognized area of expertise will help you meet new people, it will help you in either your job or avocation, and you'll enjoy knowing that you're pretty darned good at something.

If you haven't already done it, take some time to write down what things you are truly passionate about, what areas of your vocations or avocations you enjoy and take a deep interest in. At a minimum, you should come up with at least one focus area like this for your main career area and one for your interests not related to work.

Once you've decided on two or more areas of high interest, consider summarizing what you know about those areas, defining your scope of knowledge about those passions in writing. Develop action items to make good use of what you already know and come up with next steps to further increase your skill and knowledge on specific topics.

There are several ways to make good use of what you already know. If you enjoy writing and the internet, consider writing a blog on your area of expertise. You will likely find many other people out there writing blogs on the same topics, but that's a good thing. By reading those other blogs, you can learn more about your favorite subjects, you can make new connections with people who have some of the same interests as you, and you may find some specialty areas where you know more than most other people out there.

Another way to assemble and further develop your written knowledge about a particular topic using the web is to launch, develop, promote and maintain a wiki. If you're not familiar with wikis, look up the term at http://wikipedia.org. There are several options for having free wikis, but one good place to start is www.wikispaces.com. If you'd like help setting up a wiki, contact me, and I'll be happy to help you.

If you like to write, but don't care for the internet or don't feel you have the tech knowledge to enjoy doing a blog or wiki, consider writing articles for magazines, newspapers, journals or other media. Even if you don't get the articles published, or only have a couple published, the act of writing the articles will help you clarify your thoughts on various subjects. Research for the articles can help you connect with new people having similar interests or can help you learn more about your favorite topic.

Consider joining associations related to your interests. Joining the associations will lead to all sorts of opportunities to meet people, increase your subject knowledge and find new ways to use your skills and experience.

If you like speaking in public, consider joining a Toastmasters club in your area. This will create opportunities to talk about your passion. Approach local clubs and organizations about speaking at their regular meetings or special gatherings. Find out what specific questions they have for your area of expertise and develop a presentation around those questions.

Those people who have an enormous amount of energy should consider organizing events related to their passion. With the rise of unconferences and informal gatherings, it's easier than ever to bring together people with common interests. Attend other events related to your interest first to find out what they are like. Determine what you like and dislike about those events. Do some research to find out what other events for your subject area are held in your community, state or region. If there is a particular type of event that you'd enjoy and that a few others would probably enjoy, develop a plan for the event. Find five or six other people who want to help organize the event. Working with others on organizing and putting on an event is always a good way to get to know them better.

There are a ton of ways to leverage knowledge and expertise in an area about which you are passionate. Put some time and effort into at least one of the above suggestions, or another type of activity not listed here. You'll enjoy it, others will benefit, and it may lead to something totally unexpected and really worthwhile!



NEW NET Issues list for 24 April 2007

The past seven days saw a flurry of announcements about Google apps, including a presentation manager, a CRM module, video conferencing, doing charts with Gspreadsheets and a StumbleUpon competitor.

Other tech highlights of the recent past include the return of Charles Simonyi to terra firma, an ominous ruling about web radio, Thunderbird 2.0 being released, FON and Time Warner Cable doing a deal and Microsoft announcing a $3 software suite.


Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 24 April 02007, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 6:45 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering upstairs at Tom's Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

At tonight's meeting, Luke will give an overview of gaming on the Nintendo DS, the top selling gaming unit in the US by a large margin for March 2007 and of game emulators on the pc.

The ‘net

  1. The Death of Web Radio? http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/techbeat/archives/2007/04/the_death_of_we.html
  2. Participation on Web 2.0 sites remains weak http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070418/wr_nm/web_participation_dc
  3. Red Hat founder's Lulu promotes self-publishing http://news.yahoo.com/s/infoworld/20070418/tc_infoworld/87778
  4. Adobe player frees viewers to watch video offline http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/adobe_player_dc
  5. The Coming Virtual Web http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/apr2007/tc20070416_780263.htm
  6. SL: Alter Egos http://tinyurl.com/2nmppb
  7. Move over MySpace, Gaia Online is here http://gigaom.com/2007/04/22/move-over-myspace-gaia-online-is-here/
  8. Kids and teens have pushed at least 6 immersive online worlds to over 2m UU/mth in the US http://lsvp.wordpress.com/2007/04/23/kids-and-teens-have-pushed-at-least-6-immersive-online-worlds-to-over-2m-uumth-in-the-us/
  9. Yahoo launches online song-lyric database http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18280188/
  10. Cats Can Has Grammar http://www.dashes.com/anil/2007/04/23/cats_can_has_gr

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

  1. Web attackers get better at hiding http://news.com.com/2100-7349_3-6177424.html
  2. State Department got mail _ and hackers http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070419/ap_on_hi_te/hackers_state_department
  3. Hacker Cracks a Mac at Security Conference http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,131050-pg,1/article.html
  4. Russian firm commercializes OpenOffice.org password crack http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070423-russian-firm-commercializes-openoffice-org-password-crack.html
  5. Russinovich: Malware will thrive http://blogs.zdnet.com/security/?p=175

Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. Blackberry Outage Caught Users Off Guard http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20070419/tc_cmp/199100767
  2. MID: Intel Targets New Mobile Devices http://news.yahoo.com/s/nf/20070419/tc_nf/51625
  3. FON, Time Warner deal confirmed http://gigaom.com/2007/04/23/fon-time-warner-deal-confirmed/
  4. Switch on for Square Mile wi-fi http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6577307.stm
  5. Blackberry hitches a ride on Windows Mobile http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070423-blackberry-hitches-a-ride-on-windows-mobile.html
  6. Wi-Fi-Sharing Communities Rise Up http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/techbeat/archives/2007/04/wi-fi-sharing_c.html

Open Source

  1. Thunderbird 2.0 email client goes gold http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS8834457327.html
  2. Michael Dell's Linux Choice? Ubuntu http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS5149877302.html
  3. Windows Media Player add-on for Firefox released http://arstechnica.com/journals/microsoft.ars/2007/04/17/windows-media-player-add-on-for-firefox-released


  1. Presentation App: Google expands office software http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070417/ap_on_hi_te/google_office_software
  2. Google CRM Tool Now Available http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,130822-c,google/article.html
  3. Google brings video conferencing to its Office http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=4888
  4. Corporate Data Slips Out Via Google Calendar http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20070417/tc_pcworld/130868
  5. Making Charts with Google Spreadsheets http://google-d-s.blogspot.com/2007/04/how-to-make-pie.html
  6. Google Rains On StumbleUpon Parade: Launches Direct Competitor http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/04/18/google-rains-on-stumbleupon-parade-launches-direct-competitor/
  7. Goodbye Froogle, Hello Google Product Search! http://searchengineland.com/070418-202109.php

General Technology

  1. Study warns of health risk from ethanol http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/04/18/ETHANOL.TMP
  2. Microsoft plans $3 suite for emerging markets http://news.yahoo.com/s/infoworld/20070419/tc_infoworld/87838
  3. Dell responds to customer feedback by bringing back Windows XP http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070420-dell-responds-to-customer-feedback-by-bringing-back-windows-xp.html
  4. Women in Computer Science http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2007/04/women_in_comput.html
  5. Mac shipments up 30% in US in the first quarter of 2007 http://macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/13342/
  6. GM's New Fuel-Cell Car http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/18565/
  7. Bringing fabrication to the desktop http://arstechnica.com/articles/culture/fabathome.ars
  8. Giant Fossil Rain Forest Discovered in Illinois http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/04/070424-forest-fossils.html

Leisure & Entertainment

  1. Become Pac-Man world champ http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=75418
  2. Nintendo's sudden leap shakes game industry http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/sciencetech/homepage/article_1663212.php
  3. Why Microsoft is Still in the Gaming Business http://gamesfirst.com/?id=1514
  4. Win an Xbox360 and Media Centre PC http://www.theconspiracygame.co.uk/conspiracy/

Economy and Technology

  1. No penalty for tax filers hit by glitch http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070418/ap_on_hi_te/turbotax_trouble http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070418/BREAKING06/70418013&start=1
  2. Acacia claims patent on CD hyperlinks, sues for billions http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070418-acacia-claims-patent-on-cd-hyperlinks-sues-for-billions.html
  3. Click here to access our broken Web site, press one to be ignored http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=4741

Civilian Aerospace

  1. Space Tourist, ISS Crew Return to Earth http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/070421_exp14_simonyi_landing.html
  2. U.S., Japanese Firms Team Up on ISS Supply Plan http://www.space.com/news/070419_rocketplane_japan_isssupply.html

Supercomputing & GPUs

  1. Intel confirms programmable, multi-core chip http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/04/17/intel_larrabee_gpgpu/
  2. University of Illinois Teams Up with NVIDIA http://www.hpcwire.com/hpc/1475283.html
  3. SGI Technology Accelerates HD Digital Film Mastering http://www.hpcwire.com/hpc/1452862.html



MinneBar 2007: Results

MinneBar 2007 was fun, interesting, full of opportunities and different than previous barcamps in Chicago, Milwaukee or Madison.

This technology unconference was fun and interesting because of the general atmosphere created by several hundred geeks and tech enthusiasts congregating in one location for an evening (Friday) and a day (Saturday). Although each person participating in the event had their own agenda and reasons for being there, everyone present agreed that technology is a Good Thing. When you have a group of people passionate about the same topic, it generally results in an enjoyable time for those present. The event was also fun because of the chance to learn new things about computers, technology and the web. It was interesting because the large number of sessions meant that all day long there were topics which I wanted to learn more about. One fun aspect which I encourage BarCampChicago and other tech unconferences to focus on was the pre-event mixer on the evening before the event starts. There were probably fifty or more people at a local watering hole and there were some pretty good conversations started at the mixer which continued into the next day. Having the event at a place with open wireless was a beneficial component, because having a bunch of geeks gathered around various laptops enabled and initiated interesting discussions.

With over 300 tech people gathered in one location, the opportunities to connect with new people and expand your network were fantastic. I've got more follow-up items based on conversations I had with people at MinneBar than I really have time for. Although there is no way to track all the opportunities created by the discussions people had at MinneBar, they must number in the thousands. Some of those opportunities may have happened even without MinneBar, but most of them were a direct result of the event. The efforts of Ben, Luke and Dan, as well as everyone one else who organized the event and sponsored it, were absolutely worthwhile and much appreciated. Anyone who came to MinneBar and didn't find any opportunities in it for them should read "Never Eat Alone" or another book about networking.

MinneBar 2007 was different from the previous three barcamps in which I participated. It was likely different from the first MinneBar, which was held in 2006. Because each barcamp is organized by whoever is interested in working on it, because the agenda is driven by the people who sign up to lead sessions, and because of the low-cost approach to the events, each one will be have a different look and different pros and cons. And, as with any event, the pros and cons will be viewed differently depending on each participant's needs and attitudes.

One difference between MinnBar 2007 and my previous three barcamps is that the main event took place within one day. The event started around 9:30 am on Saturday, and by 6:00 pm the tech activities were finished. For the other barcamps there was a 24 hour component where hardcore tech people could stay up all night, doing multi-player gaming, code mashups, or whatever other activities people wanted to do. Because of difficulty in finding a venue that allowed overnight activities and because of lower participation on the second day of the 24+ hour events, MinneBar was scheduled for just one day. There are benefits to both approaches, but many of the people who had been involved in a 24+ hour barcamp felt like the one day event was missing a valuable part of the tech unconference experience.

Another aspect of MinneBar 2007 that was different for me was the more highly structured approach to a tech unconference. The MinneBar agenda was determined prior to the start of the event. The agenda was based on session topics which people posted online during the weeks before the event. There was no OpenSpace aspect of organizing the agenda during the beginning hour or so of the event. A few slots were open in the session agenda, and there were Ad Hoc rooms labeled as such where people were encouraged to have side sessions. But having the formalized agenda defined before the start of the event appeared to limit spur of the moment sessions. The prepared agenda also seemed to encourage more of a presentation mode for the sessions rather than an open multi-participant discussion on the session topics. Most sessions appeared to have people asking questions, but it was often only two or three people talking out of a group of twenty or more people. In one session I "went to", the presenter quickly answered each question during the session but didn't encourage discussion. It felt like he had a two hour presentation, and he wanted to make sure he got all that info into a fifty minute space. The MinneBar sessions tended to feel more like presentations I attended than interactive sessions in which I participated.

The final aspect of MinneBar which was different from the previous three tech unconferences was the number of people at the event. The other three had between 100 and 200 people and seemed to support the concept that 150 - 200 people is the largest size a group should be to allow optimal interaction. When you have less than 150 people, you lose out on diversity of opinions, knowledge, skills and personalities. When you have much over 200 people, you start to feel like less a part of the overall group and only a member of a subsection of the larger group. I would highly encourage people planning tech unconferences to consider setting a limit of 200 people, as I think this enables good interaction between most people at the event.

Overall, I was very glad I went to MinneBar -- met some interesting people, sat in on a couple good sessions, had a chance to co-lead a session on the FireSeed Streaming Supercomputer project, and had a good road trip with my business partner. It would have been good to have the 24+ hour component to the event and to have had fewer people at MinneBar, but each event has it's own strengths and benefits, and MinneBar was no exception.

Once again, a big Thanks to Ben, Luke and Dan for making the event happen! Go Twin Cities!!



Ask Charles A Question / NN Issues for 17 April 2007

Charles Simonyi has only a few more days left on the International Space Station, so if you want to ask him a question while he's up there, do it soon.

To ask him a question, go to his website, http://charlesinspace.com, click on the "ASK CHARLES" link at the top center of the page, then click on the "ASK CHARLES A QUESTION" box in the lower center of the page.

The reason I've been blogging about Charles Simonyi's space adventure recently is because I think it would be an ultimate adventure at this point in time, but also because it's my contention civilian activity in space-related ventures is ready to explode in terms of innovation, dollars and opportunities. Most people like to hear things that reinforce their opinions, especially if their opinions aren't in the majority. So it was gratifying yesterday when I read a NYT article about TED online videos and ended up watching a 20 minute Burt Rutan video wherein Burt reinforced (I think) my opinion about the imminent flurry of activity we should expect in civilian aerospace. Burt would know a lot more about the subject than would I, so if you're interested in this topic and want to hear his viewpoint, check out his video at the above link.


Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 17 April 02007, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 6:45 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering upstairs at Tom's Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

The ‘net

  1. The Map Room blog (good model for ‘expert’ blogs) http://www.mcwetboy.net/maproom/
  2. Facebook unveils new site design amid growth surge http://uk.reuters.com/article/internetNews/idUKNAAD110120070411
  3. How SET accelerates P2P filesharing http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070411-inside-the-set-p2p-system.html
  4. VisiblePath Is A Lot Like LinkedIn, Except It’s Useful http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/04/12/visualpath-a-lot-like-linkedin-except-its-useful/
  5. Most Americans filing taxes online http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070414/ap_on_bi_ge/taxes_ap_poll
  6. Women outnumber men online in United States http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070412/tc_afp/usitinternetwomen
  7. Vonage: No tech 'workaround' http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/telecom/2007-04-15-vonage-usat_N.htm
  8. Curriki: McNealy touts open-source education site http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070417/ap_on_bi_ge/sun_mcnealy
  9. Black Belt Scheduling With Google Calendar http://lifehacker.com/software/google-calendar/geek-to-live--black-belt-scheduling-with-google-calendar-250939.php
  10. 100 Megabits to the home by 2015? http://gigaom.com/2007/04/16/100-megabits-to-the-home-by-2015/
  11. UW-Madison launches new high-speed research network http://wistechnology.com/article.php?id=3852

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

  1. Grisoft Offers Free Anti-Rootkit Security Software http://blogs.pcworld.com/staffblog/archives/004069.html
  2. Bug hunters face online-apps dilemma http://news.com.com/Bug+hunters+face+online-apps+dilemma/2100-7348_3-6175737.html?tag=st.txt.caro
  3. 'Hacker Boot Camp' teaches security tactics http://www.philly.com/inquirer/business/20070415_Hacker_Boot_Camp_teaches_security_tactics.html

Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. Sun Acquires Java-Based Mobile Phone OS http://www.eweek.com/article2/0%2C1759%2C2113881%2C00.asp
  2. Ultrasmall, ultratricky http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/business/17072316.htm
  3. Orange Launches Windows Mobile 6.0 SPV E650 http://www.biosmagazine.co.uk/article.php?id=4965 http://www.cnet.com.au/software/operatingsystems/0,239029541,339273742,00.htm

Open Source

  1. Apache Battles Sun Over Java License http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,130574-c,opensource/article.html
  2. Palm Will Create Its Own Linux Platform http://news.yahoo.com/s/nf/20070411/bs_nf/51420
  3. What Makes An Open Source Project Successful? http://www.ddj.com/dept/opensource/199001077
  4. Intel's MID UMPCs: So long XP/Vista, hello Linux http://www.engadget.com/2007/04/16/intels-mid-umpcs-so-long-xp-vista-hello-linux/


  1. Google to buy DoubleClick for $3.1 billion http://news.yahoo.com/s/infoworld/20070414/tc_infoworld/87695
  2. Google's Worldwide Developer Day is May 31 http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,130672-c,companynews/article.html
  3. Google Tips Its Hand On Voice Search With Speech Patent http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20070414/tc_cmp/199000808
  4. Microsoft Urges Review of Google-DoubleClick Deal http://tinyurl.com/2h84yc (New York Times)

General Technology

  1. Fun and profit with obsolete computers http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9584_22-6175961.html
  2. Move Over Nanotube, Here Comes Graphene http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa004&articleID=DCCF6BAB-E7F2-99DF-3598F37C1D4966C9
  3. HP Pushes Ink Jet Printing to 70 Pages per Minute http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,2113010,00.asp
  4. Apple's Leopard delay may signal deeper problems http://origin.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_5652124
  5. Taiwan's Via Scores Big Win With HP http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,130699-c,techindustrytrends/article.html
  6. The Trouble With Home Networking http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/04/12/the-trouble-with-home-networking/
  7. AMD's 65nm GPU: why the future of GPUs is smaller, faster, cooler http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070412-amds-65nm-gpu-why-the-future-of-gpus-is-smaller-faster-cooler.html
  8. Color is key to Microsoft's next-generation bar code http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/311712_software16.html
  9. Protecting the throne: Adobe debuts Creative Suite 3 http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2003667798_adobe16.html
  10. Microsoft, Adobe Set A Collision Course on Web http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB117668634225970835-FVRZcPo5bJpxrx7Rw6KfN6j_UFY_20070515.html
  11. Fotowoosh Will Turn Any Picture Into A 3D Image http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/04/15/fotowoosh-will-turn-any-picture-into-3d-image/
  12. LH Top 10: Free Computer System Recovery Tools http://lifehacker.com/software/lifehacker-top-10/lh-top-10--free-computer-system-recovery-tools-251903.php
  13. Intel's Spring IDF brings details on Penryn and SoC plans http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070416-intels-spring-idf-brings-details-on-penryn-soc-plans-and-discrete-gpu.html

Leisure & Entertainment

  1. Nintendo Upgrades Wii Internet Channel http://news.yahoo.com/s/nf/20070412/bs_nf/51454
  2. Sony discontinues 20GB PS3 http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070413/ap_on_hi_te/playstation3
  3. `Guitar' team rocks; PSP cuts http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070411/ap_en_ot/games_news_bytes
  4. New patent hints at Apple TV 2.0 http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070415-new-patent-hints-at-apple-tv-expansion.html
  5. THQ turns its back on ports, embraces console-specific development http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070416-thq-turns-their-back-on-ports-embraces-console-specific-development.html

Economy and Technology

  1. Price Wars Hit Seagate http://news.yahoo.com/s/bw/20070411/bs_bw/apr2007pi20070410641831
  2. Samsung posts weak Q1 on chips, outlook tough http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070413/bs_nm/samsung_result_dc
  3. Creativity, Innovation and the Cultural Parade http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/15/business/yourmoney/15ping.html
  4. Is Microsoft bidding up acquisitions on purpose? http://scobleizer.com/2007/04/15/is-microsoft-bidding-up-acquisitions-on-purpose/

Civilian Aerospace

  1. Jump in: There's space for everyone! http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_5665214
  2. Simonyi : ISS a Cozy and Complicated Place http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/070413_simonyi_inflight.html
  3. Cash-strapped NASA looks to private industry http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18082415/

Supercomputing & GPUs

  1. Sony in talks on commercial use for PS3 http://www.ft.com/cms/s/1238b9f2-e799-11db-8098-000b5df10621.html
  2. Another Look at GPGPU http://www.hpcwire.com/hpc/1385786.html
  3. Supercomputing Comes to the Rust Belt http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/apr2007/tc20070412_406858.htm
  4. ORNL Doubles Performance of Cray Supercomputer to 119 Teraflops http://biz.yahoo.com/iw/070411/0237515.html



Charles Simonyi: My Kind of Guy

I like Charles Simonyi -- when I read his blog entry dated 14 April 2007, I smiled or laughed at three parts of his post.

First, he commented on the applause the three members of the Soyuz crew received on launch day when they left the hotel. Charles said it is "...a weird feeling to be applauded..." To me that means that he is not normally the center of attention and seems to be fine with that. His down to earth approach to life was conveyed in a recent online article where he said, "After we return, after we have rehabilitation I need to go back to work that I interrupted for this very interesting experience."

Second, Charles was amused by problems they had with a DVD player on the bus while driving to the launch site. He said "the difficulty of use of consumer electronics is one of my pet peeves." Even though he has the pedigree of a true geek, he understands and dislikes the problems most people have when using geek-produced products. Maybe he'd be interested in collaborating with the Center For Innovation, Prodea Systems and EAA on some innovation projects, which I mentioned in an earlier post on this blog. After all, one of the founders of Prodea Systems is Anousheh Ansari, another space adventurer, and Prodea Systems is developing consumer electronics. If the opportunity arises when Anousheh is at EAA this summer for Women Soar 2007, we'll have to discuss that possibility!

Third, Charles Simonyi had an experience similar to one I'm familiar with. He gave a prepared speech in Russian because he wanted to show his interest in and respect for the Russian people, their language and their culture. After telling about giving this speech in Russian before the launch he says, "...unfortunately, this stunt creates the impression that I speak Russian well, which I will later regret."

I thoroughly understand and relate to his comment, although I don't think he truly regrets having given the speech in Russian. I enjoy learning words and phrases in foreign languages, and enjoy using the meager foreign vocabulary I have developed over the years. My daughter often quizzed me on the French words for common items in a restaurant when she was in middle school and high school. However, whenever she and I traveled to Québec for the Festival d’été de Québec, she would tell me to let her handle any French speaking opportunities. She didn't want the Québecois to throw us out of the province when they heard my horrendous pronunciation... The lessons from her did pay off, though, because I ran into a few situations in Québec with people who spoke only French, such as the Pizza Hut where I needed my French to get some napkins and paper plates to go with my take-out pizza. And I did enjoy ordering breakfast entirely in French at my favorite St. Hyacinthe, Québec restaurant, although I realize the waitress was humoring me by letting me speak only French. Similarly, I enjoyed learning a smidgen of Italian when traveling to Pescara, Italy, some Spanish when going to Buenos Aires, and learning a bit of Russian, Portugese, and Chinese for email correspondence with native speakers of those languages. Not to mention trying to recall or re-learn some of my high school German. My daughter always warns me not to use my smattering of foreign languages because it often results in the misconception that I can speak the language enough to understand a native speaker which, of course, I can't.

These three minor glimpses of what Charles Simonyi is like convince me he is someone I would enjoy meeting and talking with. Maybe one of these days that will happen. I'll have to be ready to greet him with, "Jó napot Charles!"



FS3 Project: Website & Project Team

Several recent online articles have highlighted the need to quickly move ahead on the FireSeed Streaming Supercomputer (FS3) and to focus on two specific project areas.

The FS3 project will design and build a GPU-cluster streaming supercomputer for less than $100,000 whose performance will place it in the Top 500 Supercomputers list.

The window of prime opportunity for the FS3 project in terms of a burning need for small and medium businesses was highlighted by a Business Week article, "Supercomputing Comes to the Rust Belt." Business Week covers several real life examples of small companies using supercomputing resources to compete in the global knowledge economy. One small company does fluid dynamics simulations for the transportation industry, while another one does laser scanning and digitization of large spaces, such as buildings. By definition, the knowledge economy will bring with it more and more opportunities related to manipulating data to manage and improve our knowledge. Therefore it makes sense that low-cost supercomputing resources are becoming increasingly a needed resource for new or innovative companies.

Numerous other articles have talked about the computing industry's desperate need for an effective programming model for the multi and many-core processors now being designed and produced. Intel, IBM, AMD and other CPU manufacturers are no longer developing top of the line processors with only a single core. Moore's law ran into a physics brick wall, and the computing hardware industry has shifted over to multi-core and many-core processors for both CPUs and GPUs. The problem is, the computing software industry has not been able to shift to multi-core or many-core processing. When you're using your brand new top of the line laptop with a dual core processor, you're running single-core programs and not taking advantage of the dual core design. And the NVIDIA 8800 GTX video card has 128 processing cores on it... The FS3 project has a huge opportunity to design and develop a programming paradigm for many-core processing. With the right project team members and a few innovation breakthroughs, the FS3 programming model could define many-core processing for the future. Someone has to do it, and the large IT corporations have already proven that just throwing money at the problem isn't the solution.

It's clear there is a window of opportunity here for the FS3 project. However, many other people and companies realize the window is open, so the FS3 project needs to move forward quickly.

Two specific areas where FS3 needs to move forward quickest are:
  1. FS3 project website
  2. FS3 project team
A high quality website about the FS3 project is needed to begin recruiting project members and to communicate with companies and organizations which may be project sponsors or FS3 customers. A supercomputer project will be taken much more seriously if it has a website that clearly explains the projects and can help promote the project. People who are being recruited as project team members are more likely to jump on board if the FS3 website gives them useful information about the project. The website should also show the project will be a fun one to work on and has a reasonable chance of success.

The FS3 project team is currently a small group of people who feel passionately enough about the project to launch the project and commit a significant amount of their time to it. To make the project succeed, the current team must identify additional core project members who are needed for various parts of the project. Once these core project members are identified, they will be invited to join the project.

These core members will cover many aspects including hardware, software, journalism, intellectual property/legal, marketing, and grant writing. If you are intrigued by the concept of the FS3 project and have skills in one of these areas or another area you feel is useful to the project, please contact me at bwaldron [att] gmail dott com.

The next month or two will be spent taking care of these project basic needs. After those needs are addressed, we'll really start having some fun!



MinneBar: Only One Week Away!

You still have an opportunity to participate in one of the four best tech events of the year in the Midwest!

MinneBar, http://barcamp.org/MinneBar, is happening in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area only seven days from now, on 21 April 2007. Or six days from now if you count the pre-event mixer on Friday night.

Go to the event's website listed above and add your name to the list of participants. If you don't want to mess around figuring out how to add your name to the wiki, send an email to me, bwaldron [at] gmail dott com, and I'll add your name to the list. There is no cost for you to attend this technology unconference. You can participate even if you decide to show up at the last minute and didn't register. The important thing is to show up and to participate in the event. As the ad for the event says, "No spectators, only participants." Barcamps are unconferences with the session topics determined by the passionate interests of the tech enthusiasts at the event.

If you're interested in being part of the road trip to MinneBar, contact me at the above address. We're still figuring out the details of who is driving and when we'll be at various points along I-94, but we'd love to have a convoy headed over to the Twin Cities. *Especially* join us if you have a mobile internet connection that we could share amongst the convoy so we have connectivity all the time on the road! The plan is to leave sometime Friday (morning?) so we get over to Minneapolis during the afternoon. We can connect with other tech people if we get there early, then go to the pre-event mixer on Friday evening.

For those unfortunate people who have schedule conflicts and can't make it to MinneBar, make sure you clear your schedule for BarCampChicago. The date hasn't been set, but it will likely be in June.

In case you were wondering, the other three "best tech events in the midwest" are BarCampChicago, BarCampMilwaukee and BarCampMadison.

Hope to see you in Minneapolis!



Videos of Charles Simonyi in Space

Twenty-four videos are on the CharlesInSpace website as of this morning, 11 Apr 2007.

I watched several of them today, including the news conference where Charles describes the dramatic visual and mental impact of approaching the ISS (International Space Station) at dusk. His vivid description made me think of all the new and awesome sights humans will see in the coming years of space travel. Part of the impact will be interesting and unique terrain, geography and lighting, but a portion of the impact will come from knowing it is one of the first times mankind has seen those sights in-person.

If you haven't watched any videos of Charles Simonyi's space adventure yet, take time to view a couple of them today. Go to his website linked above and either click on a video link on the home page or click on the Multimedia link and see all the videos (the thumbnails have a white "V" in a red triangle indicating video).

The popularity of YouTube and other online video sites is a great resource for civilian aerospace enthusiasts. It will be fun and educational if companies like Scaled Composites, Armadillo Aerospace, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic put high quality informational and inspirational videos on those online sites. Finding videos on a particular aspect of civilian aerospace, such as lunar lander competition or sub-orbital flights, is much easier when searching on YouTube than when doing a general web search or when searching for videos on multiple company sites. If I had a bit more time, I'd contact the companies listed above, as well as others such as AirLaunch, Bigelow Aerospace, Blue Origin, Mojave Spaceport, Orbital Technologies Corporation (Orbitec), PlanetSpace, Rocketplane Limited, Space Adventures, SpaceDev, Spaceport America, Transformational Space Corporation (t/Space) and XCOR Aerospace to suggest they upload interesting videos of civilian aerospace products and services they develop and provide.

If you have good videos to suggest that are relevant to civilian aerospace, please share links for those videos.



Recommendations for the week: NN for 10 Apr 2007

These weekly technology issue lists are waaaay too long, but let's save that discussion for another day; here are myDigitechnician's recommendations for the past seven days:
  1. My Favorite: Item I.1 below, covering the story of Charles Simonyi's blast-off for the International Space Station, because I'm a fan of civilian aerospace innovation.
  2. Biggest Short-term Economic Impact: Item H.5, cautioning that AMD's announcement of first quarter 2007 revenue forecast cutbacks may be a harbinger of a general tech cooldown.
  3. Cool-And-Useful Tech: Item E.1, with a bunch of links regarding new features for Google Maps. While reading about the Google Maps, also be alert for other mapping options mentioned in the articles. One of these days, we need to do an Internet Maps session at NEW NET.
  4. Best Tech Think Piece: This category is a tie between two items; Item H.2, with Ray Ozzie giving his version of Microsoft's approach to the right mix of online and offline computing, and Item J.3, which gives a brief overview of the huge 'monster in the closet' challenge facing the world of computer programming -- CPUs and GPUs are going multi-core and many-core, but nobody knows how to program for anything but single core. Ooops...
  5. Most Fun: Items G.1 and G.2, new games for the Wii. I've used a Wii, and it's pure fun. Once you try it, you'll be hooked.

NEW NET at Atlanta Bread Company tonight !

Below is the final list of issues for the Monday, 10 April 2007, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 7:00 pm weekly gathering at Atlanta Bread Company (West) by the Fox River Mall, 650 North Casaloma Drive, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

A. The ‘net

  1. MySpace Will Hold Presidential Primary http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/04/03/myspace-will-hold-presidential-primary/
  2. Drinks with Dell http://www.buzzmachine.com/2007/04/03/drinks-with-dell/
  3. Live Search Maps Adds New Features And Firefox 3D Support http://searchengineland.com/070403-151436.php
  4. Get a (Second) Life! (register now for a DDJ SL Summit Apr 28) http://www.ddj.com/dept/global/198702201
  5. If You Don’t Use Del.icio.us, You Will Now http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/04/05/if-you-dont-use-delicious-you-will-now/
  6. Web 2.0: End of Innocence http://gigaom.com/2007/04/05/web-20-end-of-innocence/
  7. Best Buy to Open 'Geek Squad Island' in 'Second Life' http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,264325,00.html
  8. Dreaming in the "Cloud" with the XIOS web operating system http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070408-dreaming-in-the-cloud-with-the-xios-web-operating-system.html
  9. Principal sues ex-students over MySpace profiles http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6174506.html
  10. Does email have a future? http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=4812
  11. Wilfing on the web, the new British pastime http://technology.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,,2053536,00.html

B. Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

  1. New attack cracks WEP in record time http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070404-new-attack-cracks-wep-in-record-time.html
  2. Hackers Promise 'Nude Britney Spears' Pix To Plant .ANI Exploit http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20070405/tc_cmp/198800300
  3. Japanese Yahoo loses millions of e-mails http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Top_News/2007/04/07/japanese_yahoo_loses_millions_of_emails
  4. More state governments defy congress and reject Real ID as next step to 1984 http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070409-more-state-governments-defy-congress-and-reject-real-id.html

C. Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. Verizon Admits 5GB Wireless Broadband Cap for “Unlimited” Service http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/82762
  2. 12 tips before you buy Nokia N95 http://gigaom.com/2007/04/07/nokia-n95-review/
  3. FCC: Still No In-Flight Cell Phone Calls http://news.yahoo.com/s/nf/20070404/tc_nf/51248
  4. Palm Announces New Linux Based Mobile Platform http://www.palminfocenter.com/news/9351/palm-announces-new-linux-based-mobile-platform/

D. Open Source

  1. Why I Switched from OpenOffice to Google Docs http://news.yahoo.com/s/zd/20070404/tc_zd/204601
  2. Firefox Also Vulnerable To .ANI Exploits http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20070406/tc_cmp/198800640
  3. MS Tech Summit: Redmond Still Trying To 'Get' Open-Source http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20070404/tc_cmp/198702233
  4. Debian 4.0 finally arrives! http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS8547892609.html

E. SkyNet

  1. New Google Map Features http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/310360_onlinemaps05.html http://www.smh.com.au/news/biztech/unleash-your-inner-cartographer/2007/04/05/1175366387361.html http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/04/map-making-so-easy-caveman-could-do-it.html http://maps.google.com/help/maps/userguide/ http://searchengineland.com/070405-020403.php
  2. Google Talk widget gets better http://www.webware.com/8301-1_109-9705507-2.html
  3. Google: Homes, not just homepages http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/04/homes-not-just-homepages.html
  4. Teaching Google To See Images http://searchengineland.com/070405-172235.php
  5. Google offers free voice-activated local search http://news.com.com/2061-10803_3-6174124.html
  6. Google Admits Using Outside Source for Chinese App http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,130502-c,copyright/article.html
  7. Google Takes Partial Ownership Of Maxthon Browser (yuck?) http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/04/10/google-takes-partial-ownership-of-maxthon-browser/

F. General Technology

  1. Intel Adds vPro to Centrino http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,130394/article.html
  2. Thunderbird 2.0 To Launch This Week http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/thunderbird_20.php
  3. ‘Get Things Done’ software http://bargiel.home.pl/iGTD/

G. Leisure & Entertainment

  1. Brothers In Arms hit Wii, DS http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=74988
  2. Review: 'Tiger Woods' game par for Wii http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070404/ap_on_hi_te/games_tiger_woods_wii
  3. You Had Me At 'Hobbit' http://www.forbes.com/technology/2007/04/05/lord-rings-online-tech-media-cx_de_0405lotro.html
  4. Battle aliens, save the world and learn chemistry http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070405/tc_nm/videogames_chemistry_dc
  5. Apple Stokes Music Standards War http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/apr2007/tc20070404_499334.htm
  6. What took them so long? (New ‘Tolkien’ book) http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article1613657.ece
  7. Electronic Arts plays catch-up after Wii shrug-off http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=amWmy6_JG16U

H. Economy and Technology

  1. [Traditional] Marketing in Second Life doesn’t work… here is why! http://gigaom.com/2007/04/04/3-reasons-why-marketing-in-second-life-doesnt-work/
  2. [Microsoft’s] Ray Ozzie's Vision for Connected Software http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=1698
  3. Think Short http://www.ysmblog.com/blog/2007/04/05/think-short/
  4. H.P. Tries to Create Printers That Love the Web http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/09/technology/09print.html
  5. AMD gives us a Tech reality check http://gigaom.com/2007/04/09/amd-gives-us-a-tech-reality-check/
  6. A Photo Trove, a Mounting Challenge http://tinyurl.com/35zxj7 (New York Times)

I. Civilian Aerospace

  1. Simonyi Blasts Off For Space Station http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/04/08/europe/EU-GEN-Russia-Space.php
  2. Some Fear Russia to Become Space Cabbie http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/04/08/ap3592261.html
  3. American Entrepreneur Charles Simonyi Prepares for Liftoff http://space.com/missionlaunches/070405_exp15_simonyi.html
  4. Fresh Crew, Space Tourist Arrive at Space Station http://space.com/missionlaunches/070409_exp15_postdock.html

J. Supercomputing & GPUs

  1. Apple Unveils Eight-Core Mac Pro http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,2111258,00.asp
  2. New beer in wine bottles: NVIDIA to rebrand G80 as supercomputer chip http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070404-new-beer-in-wine-bottles-nvidia-to-rebrand-g80-as-supercomputer-chip.html
  3. Anyone Know Where We're Headed? http://www.hpcwire.com/hpc/1353322.html



Expedition 15 Arrives at ISS

Expedition 15, including Charles Simonyi, arrived safely at the International Space Station (ISS) at 2:10 pm CDT on 09 Apr 2007.

After docking, the three crew members of Expedition 15 moved through the hatches between the Soyuz and the ISS, entering the ISS at 3:30 pm. Charles' brain must have been on overload about then.

What he might have appreciated at that point is Gordon Bell's MyLifeBits' technology, including the automatic digital camera around the neck, to keep track of things happening around him that sensory overload prevented him from fully realizing and appreciating. I'll have to connect with the next space adventurer who heads up to the ISS and suggest they consider using Bell's technology to fully capture their experience in space. It seems reasonable to expect Space Adventures to include that technology as part of the $25 million package for an ISS visit.

The next ISS citizen visitor should also consider ways to make video footage of their trip more easily available to their earthbound observers and space enthusiasts. Possibly have a member of their website team on Earth put video clips from NASA on YouTube or another video site, or at least put links on the traveler's website to videos that others have uploaded to YouTube. I managed to be online watching NASA tv during the Expedition 15 blast-off, but was not able to be online during the docking and crew entry into the ISS. Neither the NASA website nor the CharlesInSpace site have provided an easily found link to archived videos of those two events. I was able to find a couple launch videos on YouTube, but the site didn't appear to have the docking/ISS entry video uploaded yet.

Thinking about the Soyuz and ISS videos make me wonder what provisions for video will be available on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo flights. If Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic team have not yet developed a plan for the video record they'll give to their high paying customers, they might want to consider that aspect of customer delightment. It might even be worth offering each customer a Gordon Bell technology outfit as a way to capture their own person viewpoint of the trip, in addition to a professionally produced DVD showing flight preparation, the mother ship taking off, the release and climb of the SpaceShipTwo, the weightless period in the cabin, and the return to earth. Because the actual weightless experience in space will be relatively short, capturing every moment of that will be important to many customers.

These thoughts beg the question, "When will the first wedding in space happen?" Or first proposal, first date, first...