NEW NET Issues List for 27 Jan 2009

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 27 Jan 2009, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 7:00 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering. This week we're upstairs at Tom's Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

The ‘net

1. iNum - A Worldwide Phone Number http://voip.about.com/od/servicesandsolutions/p/iNumProfile.htm “…iNum provides users with phone numbers with the +883 global country code, a code that has been created lately by the ITU. One can use a +883 number as a virtual number and be contacted through his phone and other communication device anywhere he/she is in the world, without having to worry about area codes and rates associated therewith…How To Obtain An iNum Number?...there are a handful of partners that are already providing the numbers. Examples are Gizmo5, Jajah, Mobivox, and Truphone. The numbers can be obtained from these partners for free…”

2. Throw Out Your Phone: Skype on steroids http://www.inc.com/magazine/20090101/work-play.html “…you have a cell phone, a work phone, a home phone, a couple of e-mail accounts, and maybe an instant-messaging program. With free software from VoxOx, you can keep them all in one place. Import contacts from all of your e-mail and IM accounts. Then, e-mail, IM, text, or call anyone you know, all through VoxOx. VoxOx is similar to Skype…But VoxOx is far more robust…there is one drawback: VoxOx gives users only two free hours of calls. Then, you can either pay a fee or get more free calls by watching ads. The software is still in beta, and it has some kinks…”

3. Skype’s Growth Starts to Slow http://gigaom.com/2009/01/21/skype-shows-signs-of-slowing-growth/ “…The big question now is: How long can Skype continue to grow…Even though it sold an additional 400 million more minutes, it was able to get a mere $2 million in additional sales, which is a ridiculously tiny amount…In 2007, Skype logged 20.65 Skypeout minutes per user, roughly flat with 2008…Skype grows because of its viral nature. Most people try and get their friends to download Skype so they can make free calls, a behavior unlikely to change. And once you have all your pals on the network, you don’t really need to use SkypeOut as much…”

4. eBay selling Skype? http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/technology/article5587116.ece “…When asked what was being done by eBay to add shareholder value in Skype, Mr Donahue admitted that “the synergies between Skype and the other parts of our portfolio are minimal. We're going to continue to run and operate the business. It's not a distraction currently. And at such time when we have further announcements on that, we'll let you know.”…If someone's willing to pay the right price, I don't think [eBay] would have a problem selling it…potential buyers for Skype might include Google, as it would fit well with the search engine's similar Google Talk feature, as well as American telecoms companies such as AT&T or Verizon, both of which have strong businesses in landlines and mobile telephone networks…It would be best for eBay to get whatever cash they could for it and focus on their struggling core marketplace business…”

5. Microsoft Releases Internet Explorer 8 RC1 http://tinyurl.com/at6hus (ReadWriteWeb) “…release candidate of Internet Explorer 8…feels a lot like IE7…IE8 has also taken a page from Chrome's playbook and now opens a separate process for every tab…it is noteworthy that today's RC1 won't install on Windows 7…In terms of speed, Microsoft decided not to follow the lead of the other major browsers, which are mostly focusing their energies on building faster JavaScript rendering engines. Instead, Microsoft's browser team argues that JavaScript is only responsible for 20% of the page load time on the 25 most popular sites online. So instead of speeding up the JavaScript engine, Microsoft optimized IE8 for these 25 popular pages…”

6. Open Courseware Projects: Ivy League and Beyond http://tinyurl.com/d4ezw7 (BestCollegeRankings) “…“Flat education,” or education provided for the masses via the Internet has become commonplace over the past few years, and open courseware projects abound on the Web. The following list of 100 open courseware projects are designed to offer readers access to supplementary materials for education…The downside to these courseware projects is that you cannot earn credits; however, a few colleges do offer tuition-paying students a chance to earn credits by completing some projects online …”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

7. Cleaning Conficker http://tinyurl.com/bnslt8 (eWeek) “…With infections from the Conficker worm still spreading, the good news is that there are ways to guard against it and clean your machine if you are infected…apply the Microsoft patch and ensure your antivirus protection is up-to-date…Beyond the obvious, however, there are several things users can do…security experts are still speculating what the end-game is for the hackers behind the worm…We think this is a wide-scale distraction to hide data breaches…This is an attack we have not seen in some time and is certainly a warning sign for something more to come…”

8. Obama to Defend Telco Spy Immunity http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2009/01/obama-to-fight.html “…The incoming Obama administration will vigorously defend congressional legislation immunizing U.S. telecommunication companies from lawsuits about their participation in the Bush administration's domestic spy program….The EFF is also accusing the nation's telecoms of funneling Americans' electronic communications to the Bush administration without warrants in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks…The August 2007 Protect America Act expired six months after its passage and was revived as part of the immunity legislation Holder addressed Thursday…The immunity legislation at issue was crafted after Walker had refused to dismiss the lawsuit EFF brought in 2006 against AT&T, accusing the telco of violating its customers' civil liberties…”

9. Major Canadian ISPs Slow Down P2P http://torrentfreak.com/all-major-canadian-isps-slow-down-p2p-traffic-090120/ “…a CRTC investigation reveals that most of the ISPs in Canada actively slow down customers using P2P applications…On Bell Wireline, P2P traffic is slowed down between 4.30 PM and 2 AM. To cope with the increasing bandwidth demands of its customers, they further plan to disconnect heavy users and introduce metered plans where customers pay for the bandwidth they use…Rogers is also known to use DPI. Upstream P2P traffic is slowed down across their entire network, regardless of congestion..there is no such thing as net neutrality in Canada. All of the larger ISPs slow down their customers, with most of them specifically targeting P2P traffic through deep packet inspection…several legitimate businesses whose income depends on delivering content through BitTorrent or other filesharing networks are unable to compete with those who don’t…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

10. The Location-Aware Lifestyle http://www.wired.com/gadgets/wireless/magazine/17-02/lp_guineapig?currentPage=all “…I'm no newbie. I built my first Web page in 1994, wrote my first blog entry in 1999…But WhosHere had me stumped. It's an iPhone app that knows where you are, shows you other users nearby, and lets you chat with them. Once it was installed and running, I drew a blank. What was I going to do with this thing?...millions of people are now walking around with a gizmo in their pocket that not only knows where they are but also plugs into the Internet to share that info, merge it with online databases, and find out what—and who—is in the immediate vicinity…I became a geo-guinea pig…whenever I arrived at a new place, I would announce it through multiple social geoapps…I would let digital applications help me decide where to work, play, and eat. And I would seek out new people based on nothing but their proximity to me at any given moment…To test whether I was being paranoid, I ran a little experiment. On a sunny Saturday, I spotted a woman in Golden Gate Park taking a photo with a 3G iPhone…I searched the Flickr map, and score—a shot from today. I clicked through to the user's photostream and determined it was the woman I had seen earlier. After adjusting the settings so that only her shots appeared on the map, I saw a cluster of images in one location. Clicking on them revealed photos of an apartment interior—a bedroom, a kitchen, a filthy living room. Now I know where she lives…I used to stop newspaper delivery so people wouldn't realize I was out of town. Now I've told everyone on Dopplr that I'm going to DC for five days…A few days later I had another disturbing realization. It's a Tuesday and I'm blowing off a work meeting in favor of a bike ride through Golden Gate Park…Suddenly it hits me…I would be just a Google search ("Mat Honan Tuesday noon") away from getting busted…I can't afford to have the Internet ratting me out like that…Not only does Fire Eagle save you from having to update the same information on multiple programs, it also lets you specify the level of detail to give each app—precise location, general neighborhood, or just the city you're in…these options will mitigate privacy concerns…You have to have the ability to lie about your location…Any good social geoapp will let you type in a fake position manually, Coates says. Great news; I didn't need to get busted for missing meetings—or deadlines—ever again…it looked like I was going to have to endure a lonely burrito lunch by myself. So I updated my location and asked for company. My friend Mike saw my post on Twitter and dropped by on his way to the office. Later, I met up with a couple of people I had previously known only online: After learning I would be just around the corner from their office, we agreed to get together for coffee. One of them, it turns out, works in a field I cover and gave me a tip on a story…iPhone location apps can't send out constant updates. This means that people are often showing up where you were, rather than where you are…One way around such snafus is to use the Google phone, T-Mobile's G1. Unlike the iPhone, the G1 lets programs run in the background, so you can launch location-aware apps and keep them humming while you do other things…”

11. Stanford Students Release A Cool Batch Of iPhone Apps http://tinyurl.com/bc3fql (TechCrunch) “…Students from Stanford’s Fall 1008 iPhone class CS193P created a nice crop of apps…My favorite is iDiscover, which gives you random content you think will be interesting (text, videos, apps)… iDiscover is free. Air Guitar, a $1.99 app, looks like it might be another winner…”

12. Apple's A-bomb against Palm: 358 page iPhone patent http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/41207/128/ “…Palm's new smartphone (dubbed Pre) has clearly sent shivers down Apple's spine; partly because several key engineers with a deep knowledge of Apple's secrets switched over to Palm, but mainly because Pre is the first iPhone rival to use multi-fingered gestures like pinch zoom…make no mistake - too much is at stake here: Both Palm's very survival and iPhone's fate…"Boy, have we patented it!", said Steve Jobs during the world's first iPhone presentation in January 2007. Two years and several would-be iPhone killers later and the mobile industry still lacks a cellphone that would employ multi-fingered gestures like pinch zoom that made the iPhone famous. It's not that iPhone rivals lack technical expertise to engineer multi-touch-capable smartphone. On the contrary, it is sheer fear of lawsuits by one of the world's most powerful consumer electronics giant that is keeping multi-touch as an exclusive realm of the iPhone…Apple was awarded last week a mammoth 358 page patent that covers all aspects of the iPhone's user interface…Origins of multi-touch date back to 1982 when the first touch screen was engineered at the University of Toronto that could register more than one touch at a time…The technology went unnoticed until 1991 when Pierre Wellner published a paper about so-called digital desk that envision multi-fingered gestures, including pinching motions…Wayne Westerman and John Elias…started experimenting with possible uses through their Newark-based startup, Fingerworks…Their work caught attention of Apple who was at the time researching early iPhone ideas so the company acquired Fingerworks in 2005…"the mother of all iPhone patents"…outlines iPhone's features and UI in excruciating detail, including the software and how gestures like finger swipe or pinch zoom are detected. The patent also provides a sneak peek at next-gen iPhones by listing several features not included with current-gen iPhones, like applications for blogging, instant messaging, digital video capturing, video conferencing, MMS, etc…”

Open Source

13. 72 Programs For A Freeware Only PC http://www.freewaremission.com/2008/12/72-programs-for-a-freeware-only-pc/ “…I’ve been using only freeware and open source programs in my Windows Xp powered PC since july, and I can tell you that it really works. I had 51 freeware programs, now I have 72…”

14. Windows kicks Linux to the curb http://blogs.zdnet.com/storage/?p=379 “…Last July Linux had a huge opportunity to beat Windows in the red-hot netbook market…But faster than I’d expected Microsoft has kicked Linux to the curb, claiming an 80% attach rate for netbooks. Windows 7 is the final nail in the desktop Linux market’s coffin. Unless Microsoft gets stupid on pricing, it is game over for Linux netbook market share…Ballmer’s layoffs mean this is no one-time blip. Linux has changed the competitive landscape in a way Apple never could - after all Mac OS costs twice as much as Windows…Windows 7 will run fine on netbooks - a smart move. But how to price it? Linux is free, and as Moore’s Law drives down netbook prices, any difference will become more obvious. For the several billion people in the developing world, even $20 for Windows 7 may be too much…”

15. Linux dead at hands of Windows 7? Horse puckey! http://education.zdnet.com/?p=2054 “…utility computing is going to become…a lot more important than the latest features from Microsoft, Canonical, or Apple. Can it get us online, get us into the cloud, and play our multimedia files? If somebody wrote a post telling me that the desktop OS was dead at the hands of Google, I’d say not yet, but maybe sooner than we think. But to say that Windows 7, just because it can run faster than Vista on a netbook, has effectively killed desktop Linux just doesn’t make sense.…”


16. 5 Reasons to Worry About Google http://tinyurl.com/8jjnqp (MotleyFool) “…Unfortunately for Google, there are several signs of mortality as we head into this week's telltale report. If you haven't noticed the cracks, you're not paying attention. "Search-engine marketing" is just fancy talk for "advertising"...It's a small, small world…The incredible shrinking guesstimates…Something's missing…I have no problem with Google as a long-term winner. It's likely to remain the online market leader, and the company's influence in other forms of advertising is already being felt and will be even more pronounced in the future. However…even the once-invincible Google is cutting off projects and laying off workers…”

17. Google keeps its one-trick pony healthy http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10148497-93.html “…Google…reported…two non-cash charges writing down the value of investments in AOL and Clearwire by $726 million and $355 million, respectively. Factoring that and some other charges out, the company had net income of $1.62 billion, well over analyst expectations, with revenue excluding commissions rising 4.5 percent to $4.22 billion.Wasn't there supposed to be a recession happening or something? How did Google do well, if not actually knock the ball out of the park?...people performed more Google searches. Second, when they did, Google showed the search ads more often…Google has been turning up the volume knob on what calls universal search, the blending of video, book excerpts, images, news, blog postings, and other material besides Web sites into search results. "We tripled the number of queries that triggered different kinds of results…still betting heavily on online services such as Google Apps, its online competitor to Microsoft Office, and on Android, its mobile-phone operating system…85 percent of Google employees have at least some underwater stock options…Google offered an exchange program that lets employees exchange their worthless stock options for ones based on Google's current price--a move that Google expects to pay $490 million to fund over the course of the program…”

18. Welcome You Fine Google Notebook Users http://blog.evernote.com/2009/01/22/google-notebook-import-2/ “…Google announced that they were stopping development on Google Notebook. We’re big fans of Google Notebook, in fact many of [us] used it before Evernote came along. When we heard the news, we immediately began work on a Google Notebook import tool. Today, it’s ready. So, all of you Google Notebook users can now easily bring your notes, labels, and sections right into Evernote…”

19. Google's GrandCentral Not Dead http://www.alleyinsider.com/2009/1/pogue-googles-grandcentral-not-dead-just-resting “…New York Times tech columnist David Pogue insists that Google hasn't killed GrandCentral, and that version 2.0 is "imminent." You’ve got it wrong. Everyone from GrandCentral still works on GrandCentral, and the 2.0 version is imminent. A PR guy explained to me that it’s taken a year to merge the GrandCentral servers with Google’s, but they’re nearly done…”

20. Google Web Drive http://blog.wired.com/business/2009/01/why-a-google-we.html “…The fabled GDrive is by far the most clamored-for Google service that, so far anyway, has yet to see the light of day. We’ve been hearing about a Google Drive online storage solution for years, but lately some tell-tale signs seem to point toward GDrive becoming a reality…DropBox and its ilk already offer pretty much what GDrive is rumored to be — it just isn’t Google doing the file hosting…So what’s not to love? Well, for one thing DropBox already does all that (except for the Google Docs integration), but the real issues are the same ones that DropBox faces. There are two essential problems with the whole cloud computing paradigm that no one has really solved. The first is trust. It’s one thing to trust your e-mail to Google, it’s another thing to trust the company with the entirety of your digital life. Forget problems of security and privacy, even the basic issue of server downtime leaves many people cold. The other big issue with online storage is that, for most of us, documents like spreadsheets, word processor files and the other formats that Google Docs understands are not what’s taking up the majority of space on our drives. Is the fabled GDrive going to store and sync my 200 or so gigabytes of mp3 files? For free? Somehow I doubt it…Microsoft’s Live Sync service…hasn’t changed the way we use Windows, nor has it made us throw out our hard drives…”

General Technology

21. Doom as a tool for system administration http://www.cs.unm.edu/~dlchao/flake/doom/ “…I am proposing a new mapping for managing system loads. As mentioned above, people frequently talk about "blowing processes away", and the Unix command to destroy a process is "kill". This suggests a metaphor for process management. Each process can be a monster, and the machines can be represented by a series of rooms. Id Software has generously released the source for Doom, which has been ported to Linux. I downloaded one of the many versions and added a few lines of code that would spawn a new soldier for each process, renice the process when it is wounded, and kill the process when it dies…A new sysadmin can be given less power by providing her with a smaller weapon. A rank beginner may not be given a weapon at all and be forced to attack processes with her bare hands. It would take a foolhardy player to attack a room full of monsters, just as a newbie should not kill a bunch of important processes. A more experienced sysadmin would have time to stop a newbie who is trying to kill the wrong process. The real work could be left to those with the big guns. The truly great sysadmins could have BFGs…” [for reference, see also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcQ7RkyBoBc]

22. Lifeline for Renewable Power http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/21747/?a=f “…Germany is the world's largest user of wind energy, with enough turbines to produce 22,250 megawatts of electricity. That's roughly the equivalent of the output from 22 coal plants--enough to meet about 6 percent of Germany's needs. And because Vattenfall's service area produces 41 percent of German wind energy, the control room is a critical proving ground for the grid's ability to handle renewable power…The grid has a limited ability to shunt extra power to other regions, and it has no energy-storage capacity beyond a handful of small facilities that pump water into uphill reservoirs and then release it through turbines during periods of peak demand…As more and more wind turbines pop up in Germany, so do overloads and shortages caused by unexpected changes in wind level. In 2007, ­Vattenfall's engineers had to scrap their daily scheduling plans roughly every other day to reconfigure electricity supplies on the fly; in early 2008, such changes became necessary every day. Power plants had to cycle on and off inefficiently, and the company had to make emergency electricity purchases at high prices. Days of very high wind and low demand even forced the Vattenfall workers to quickly shut the wind farms down…We simply do not have the transmission capacity available to properly integrate new renewable resources…The challenge facing the United States is particularly striking. Whereas Germany already gets 14 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, the United States gets only about 1 percent of its electricity from wind, solar, and geothermal power combined…”

23. Unmanned Vehicles Mimic Insects http://tinyurl.com/8dbljx (AviationWeek) “…The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of "WolfPack"--a coffee-can size, air-dropped network of ground sensors--include fast-moving spiders, high-jumping grasshoppers, bees with detachable surveillance payloads and sensor-equipped dragonflies. Development of BAE Systems' WolfPack worked out the dynamics of connecting a series of low-cost, not-so-smart sensors to create a very smart network. That network could, for example, monitor and analyze nearby communications and map the information flow. It then could trigger electronic jamming or even the injection of a data stream of algorithms that captures low-power traffic, attacks communications protocol stacks and otherwise manipulates a foe's flow of information. A second-generation WolfPack added a propulsion system to manipulate the modules and recharge the batteries… University of Maryland is using the hearing mechanism of flies--a pair of mechanically-coupled ears--to create miniature acoustic receivers for an "artificial fly" micro-UAV that can navigate into otherwise inaccessible locations…”

24. Better Than Owning http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2009/01/better_than_own.php “…Ownership is not as important as it once was. I use roads that I don't own. I have immediate access to 99% of the roads and highways of the world (with a few exceptions) because they are a public commons…The web is also a social common good. The web is not the same as public roads, which are "owned" by the public, but in terms of public access and use, the web is a type of community good…Libraries share some of these qualities. The content of the books are not public domain, but their displays (the books) grant public access to their knowledge and information…Very likely, in the near future, I won't "own" any music, or books, or movies. Instead I will have immediate access to all music, all books, all movies using an always-on service, via a subscription fee or tax. I won't buy – as in make a decision to own -- any individual music or books because I can simply request to see or hear them on demand from the stream of ALL…For many people this type of instant universal access is better than owning…It's not hard to imagine most other intangible goods becoming social goods as well. Games, education, and health info are also headed in that direction. As creations become digital they tend to become shared, ownerless goods…”

25. Notebooks now make up over 70 percent of Mac sales http://tinyurl.com/cl7u4e (VentureBeat) “…Four years ago, sales of desktop machines made up 60 percent of Apple’s computer sales, while notebooks made up 40 percent…In its most recent quarter, Apple reported that its notebooks constituted some 71 percent of all Mac sales…”

26. WD First 2TB Hard Drive http://www.pcworld.com/article/158374/western_digital_launches_worldfirst_2tb_hard_drive.html “…brand-new 2TB Western Digital hard drives are showing up in Australian online stores. The drives are Western Digital's first foray past single-terabyte varieties, and are sure to come as a punishing blow to…Seagate and its 1.5TB drives which don't seem to be working quite right as of late…This move now leaves Samsung as the only major hard drive manufacturer to not win a part of the storage race thus far. Hitachi was the first-to-market with a 1TB drive, Seagate was the first to break through the terabyte barrier with a 1.5TB drive, and Western Digital is now the capacity leader. Expect to see all four major players jockeying for position…as each preps a drive to try and beat the performance of its peers. It happened with single terabyte drives; it'll happen with two-terabyte drives…”

27. Hot air balloon generator http://www.ecofriend.org/entry/eco-tech-hot-air-balloon-generator-to-provide-green-electricity/ “…Ian Edmonds, an environmental consultant…has designed an innovative renewable generator, which is designed to provide electricity at the cost of a wind turbine and is more acceptable to society. The generator is essentially a hot air balloon, which uses the energy of the sun to heat air inside it. As the air inside the balloon heats up, it lifts in the air and pulls a tether, which rotates a generator on the ground. Once the balloon reaches a height of 3 kilometers, the air inside is released through its vent and it comes back to the ground…These tethers would not only look weird, but will also be hazardous for choppers and small airplanes flying at a lower altitude…”

Leisure & Entertainment

28. The End Of An Era - Flight Sim Is No More http://www.steve-lacey.com/blogarchives/2009/01/the_end_of_an_e.shtml “…Microsoft has shutdown the ACES game studio and axed the entire staff…Microsoft Flight Simulator is dead…multiple reports indicating that the entire Flight Simulator team has been axed…There were people on the team that have worked on FlightSim since it’s subLOGIC days..popular sites such as AVSim and Sim Outhouse are waking up to the new reality…I guess it’s a good day for X-Plane, though I think I’d really like to see FlightGear, an OpenSource flight simulator, ahem, take off…”

29. New Spore Games Target Kids, Wii Players http://blog.wired.com/games/2009/01/electronic-arts.html “…A new Creature Keeper game is aimed at young kids who want to play Tamagotchi with the monsters they create. Spore Hero is an action-adventure game for Wii. And a new expansion pack to the flagship PC game allows players to tweak the gameplay, creating their own adventures and challenging other players…Spore Creature Keeper takes those monsters and dumps them into a virtual-pet game aimed at kids. In addition to ensuring that their little creation gets its daily exercise, players will be able to decorate their critter's living space, and invite friends over for play dates…Spore Hero will allow players to create and interact with a fully rendered creature, and then lead them on a casual adventure to become their galaxy's champion, with a number of challenges along the way…Spore Galactic Adventures (pictured above), the game's first expansion pack for PC and Mac…expands the creative pathways open to players by allowing them to create their own gameplay. Spore allows you to play God: prodding a single-celled organism along the evolutionary road, you design entire civilizations to explore vast tracts of space, befriending (or conquering) neighbors…”

30. Nintendo brain-trainer 'no better than pencil and paper' http://tinyurl.com/d3ppmw (TimesOnline) “…The survey of ten-year-old children found no evidence to support claims in Nintendo's advertising campaign…that users can test and rejuvenate their grey cells…The company suggests that its programmes can make users “two to three times better in tests of memory…Professor Lieury said that helping one's children with their homework, reading, playing Scrabble or Su Doku or watching documentaries instead of soap operas matched or beat the console…”

Economy and Technology

31. Silicon Valley’s Fork in the Road http://www.newsweek.com/id/181392 “…top executives at HP…are ringing an alarm bell about what they see as a looming disaster, not just for HP, but for the entire U.S. tech industry. They say that unless we boost government spending on science, technology, engineering and math—STEM, in industry jargon—we will be unable to keep up with countries like China and India. At some point, companies such as Apple, Cisco, HP, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle could be eclipsed by foreign rivals, just as Ford, General Motors and Chrysler have been…HP isn't a place given to hysteria. This is the world's largest tech company, an outfit that did $118 billion in sales last year and earned a net profit of more than $8 billion, one that employs 321,000 people worldwide, about 100,000 of them in the United States. HP also operates one of the world's leading industrial research labs, with 600 scientists working under the direction of Prith Banerjee, an Indian-born computer scientist with a background in academia and start-ups. Banerjee says the rest of the world has been rapidly boosting spending on science and technology, while the United States has been, in effect, scaling back. "There is a perfect storm headed toward our tech industry...Nobody at HP wants to come out and say we should let automakers die. But it must gall them to see bright, aspiring scientists starved of funding while Detroit gets rewarded for its stupidity…Williams traveled to China, where the government is creating the world's largest nanotechnology research facility and dishing out grants of as much as $100 million to veteran scientists. One woman he met, a 28-year-old fresh out of graduate school, had been given $5 million to pursue nanotech research. "In the United States," he says, "a young assistant professor would struggle to raise $50,000, let alone $5 million…”

32. Sony: $2.9 billion loss http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1e88f78e-e847-11dd-a4d0-0000779fd2ac.html Sony…said on Thursday that it would plunge to a Y260bn ($2.9bn) operating loss in the year to March 2009 as the global downturn and strong yen wreaked havoc on sales. The group was expecting an operating profit of Y200bn only last October…Sony has said it will cut 8,000 full time jobs in total and shut five or six factories. So far it has announced the closure of one factory in France, with the loss of 312 jobs, and one in the US, with the loss of 560 jobs. Sacking staff in Japan is sensitive, because many were implicitly promised a ‘job for life’, but sparing them would risk angering Sony’s foreign employees…”

33. Microsoft will cut up to 5,000 jobs http://tinyurl.com/dmczbc (BusinessWeek) “…Microsoft is…eliminating about 5,000 jobs, or 5.5% of its 91,000-person workforce. The net reduction will be less than 3,000 because Microsoft will keep hiring in key areas…Microsoft's flagship Windows business, where sales fell 8% to $3.98 billion—far off the company's forecast for 10% to 12% growth three months ago…Many of the PCs that were sold were low-priced netbooks that tend to go for less than $300. For the version of Windows in those machines, Microsoft gets less than half as much as it does for the version in a full-blown PC…people who use these stripped-down devices do much of their computing on the Web…Microsoft's Internet division is losing money at just as remarkable a clip. Losses in the division almost doubled to $471 million from a year earlier. That's on just $866 million in sales…its Entertainment & Devices business. The $3.1 billion division posted profit for the second straight quarter, as the company sold 6 million units of its Xbox gaming console—more than double the quarterly sales of Sony's (SNE) PlayStation 3 console…”

34. $200 Laptops Break a Business Model http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/26/technology/26spend.html “…Mr. Title, a 35-year-old new-media manager at a film production company in New York, has dropped his cable subscription and moved to watching most of his television online — free…recently, he sidestepped more expensive full-featured computers and picked a bare-bones, $200 Asus EeePC laptop, also known as a netbook…there are low-priced and free alternatives that are both user-friendly and reliable enough to make the switch,” Mr. Title said. “Then there’s the extra bonus of saving some cash…the fear now is that consumers like Mr. Title, and businesses operating with the same cost-cutting mind-set, will erode the high-margin businesses of the information technology industry — slowing some technologies and companies but giving new momentum to others…Penny-pinching shoppers like Mr. Title could have the most immediate effect on the tech industry, particularly if more people consider canceling their cable subscriptions to watch video online, or drop their landline telephones to depend on their cellphones or on Internet calling services like Skype…Many consumers appear ready to abandon the costly desktop computer altogether…The day of the Rolls-Royce laptop and the high-end computer may not be totally over…But certainly the audience for that type of product is getting smaller and smaller…Arista Networks, a start-up based in Menlo Park, Calif., has much of its internal technology processes online, or “in the cloud.” Instead of buying its own hardware and software systems from the likes of Microsoft and Oracle, it opted for e-mail and online document services from Google and online sales and manufacturing software from Netsuite, based in San Mateo, Calif. It is spending a fifth of what it would be for traditional technology, said Jayshree Ullal, Arista’s chief executive. She smells a trend. “I think 80 percent of the new high-tech and small to mid-size companies are doing what we’re doing…”

35. Twenty-Two Years Of Job Creation Wiped Out In One Day http://tinyurl.com/c49nw8 (A VC) “…that's about 40,000 jobs in total that the three firms I've worked in have helped to create over the past two decades…our economy lost 75,000 jobs yesterday…I am among those who believe that tech-based entrepreneurship is a big part of the way out of the mess we are in. But can we in the venture business collectively replace 75,000 jobs per day? No, we can't…Charlie O'Donnell may have a better answer, which is that entrepreneurship will have to do the heavy lifiting. As Charlie says: “Well, what if there are no openings come this May--literally none. No job postings. No on campus interviews. No job fairs. This isn't a fantasy. It's happening right now. Even the companies that are showing up to job fairs aren't hiring--they're just there for branding…You know what that makes all these students, and everyone else out there in the job market...besides screwed? Entrepreneurs.” Charlie is talking about people coming right out of college, but I think this is going to be true for a lot of people who need a job going forward. The big companies are not going to be the answer. We are going to need more people going out on their own…They'll bootstrap a business that hopefully can cover their cost of living…”

Civilian Aerospace

36. Launch of eSpace http://www.colorado.edu/news/r/17366381460d8ddafc59c1667b47d5fa.html “…The University of Colorado at Boulder, a national leader in aerospace engineering, and SpaceDev Inc., a leading entrepreneurial space company located in Louisville, Colo., have partnered to create eSpace: The Center for Space Entrepreneurship. eSpace is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating new entrepreneurial space companies, commercializing aerospace technologies created within these companies and developing the aerospace workforce to support them…By providing access to the academic resources of the university, grants to promising space entrepreneurs, and access to both the manufacturing infrastructure of SpaceDev and a network of experienced aerospace entrepreneurs, we expect to create a fertile environment for ensuring the best possible chance of success for startup space companies…eSpace is unique in its approach to supporting the creation of these companies by lowering the barriers for entry to an absolute minimum, according to Tibbitts. More than $1 million has been provided to support the launch of the center…”

37. SpaceShipTwo rocket motor test success http://tinyurl.com/agguqm (Flightglobal) “…Virgin Galactic's Rocket Motor Two (RM2) propulsion system for its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle has successfully completed hot firing tests…Virgin Galactic is planning flight-testing before the end of the year. Trials will begin with carrier flight tests using the rocket glider spacecraft's mothership, WhiteKnightTwo, which made its maiden flight on 21 December 2008…Burt Rutan said in July 2008 that paraffin- and asphalt-based solid fuels had been tested, for what is now known as RM2. California based-space technology company Spacedev has been contracted by Scaled Composites to assist the company in developing RM2…In 2004 the Scaled Composite-designed SpaceShipOne's rocket motor used gaseous nitrous oxide as its oxidiser and hydroxyl terminated polybutadiene as its solid fuel, to carry its pilot, and ballast representing two more people, for two flights into space…The RM2 oxidiser and fuel has been the subject of speculation given the larger, eight-person SS2's energy needs to reach space…”

38. Researchers cooking up gelled rocket fuels http://news.uns.purdue.edu/x/2009a/090121HeisterGelled.html “…This is a very multidisciplinary project," said Stephen Heister, the Purdue University professor of aeronautics and astronautics…Gels…would allow the military to better control rockets than is possible with solid fuels now used. Motors running on gelled fuels could be throttled up and down and controlled more precisely than conventional rockets that use solid propellants…The gelled propellants also tend to have a little more energy than the solid propellants…The fluid mechanics of gels are quite challenging. The viscous properties of the gel change depending on how fast it's flowing, which is not true of common liquids such as water or gasoline." The project will tap the expertise of food scientists and food engineers, who are accustomed to working with gels…”

39. 2nd European CubeSat Workshop http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEM8S7WPXPF_index_0.html “…The Second European CubeSat Workshop…was held at the European Space Technology and Research Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands from 20 to 22 January 2009. Following…a similar workshop in 2008, there was an even higher level of interest shown by universities and students for this year’s event, with more than 200 participants…CubeSats are pico-satellites of standardised dimensions (cubes of 10 cm per side, with a maximum mass of 1 kg). They are being used more and more frequently by universities as an educational tool that offers hands-on experience to aerospace engineering students in designing, testing, and operating a spacecraft system and its ground segment…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

40. Supercomputing Hits the Desktop http://www.designnews.com/article/162620-Supercomputing_Hits_the_Desktop.php “…The recent wave of new personal supercomputers packs on a single desktop the processing horsepower - in some cases, four teraflops and beyond - that typically has only been available from dedicated, multi-million dollar, high-performance computer (HPC) and cluster offerings. Fueling the additional computing muscle is a new breed of hybrid system that harnesses both CPU and GPU (graphics processing unit) technology, amassing a performance punch that's on par with traditional, dedicated HPC systems…NVIDIA and its customers have been circumventing the performance roadblock by piecing together custom systems that combine multiple multicore CPUs and Tesla GPUs. MIT and Harvard, for instance, have 16 GPU systems cranking through complex medical imaging research…John Stone, a senior research programmer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has long been a user of HPC clusters, but admits a personal supercomputer brings a level of convenience not seen with traditional systems. Stone, part of the university's Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group, taps HPC technology to create a mathematical model that simulates the behavior of biological molecules at an atomic level - something that's not visible even through highly sophisticated microscopes. A couple years ago, running these highly complex calculations meant tapping some far-off supercomputer for days. Last year, Stone's group began working with CUDA and a custom-built hybrid CPU/GPU system and was able to perform the same work on a single GPU machine in their own lab in only 27 minutes…”

41. GPU computing: massive data parallelism http://weblog.infoworld.com/stratdev/archives/2009/01/gpu_computing_i.html “…password guessing is an embarrassingly parallel problem, right up there with 3-D rendering, face recognition, Monte Carlo simulation, particle physics event reconstruction, biological sequence searching, genetic algorithms, and weather modeling…For embarrassingly parallel problems, for example digital tomography, an under-$10,000 Tesla personal supercomputer can beat a $5 million Sun CalcUA…”

42. AccelerEyes Launches GPU Engine for MATLAB http://tinyurl.com/cltvj8 (HPCwire) “…Jacket 1.0, a GPU engine for MATLAB. Jacket was developed by AccelerEyes, a two-year-old Atlanta-based startup that was founded by Georgia Tech grad John Melonakos, who also runs the company. AccelerEyes aims to tap into the enormous user base of engineers and scientists currently using MATLAB, but who would like to take advantage of the latest GPU hardware to accelerate computing and visualization…Jacket allows developers to program GPUs in workstations, PCs and embedded systems using MATLAB's M language. The Jacket runtime manages all CPU-GPU memory transfers, kernel configurations and execution launches behind the scenes. The GPU computing engine is built atop CUDA…”

43. First Symposium on Application Accelerators http://tinyurl.com/dgc4oj (HPCwire) “…GPUs, FPGAs, vector processors and other exotic special-purpose chips…are advanced processor architectures that the scientific community is using to accelerate computationally demanding applications…The first annual 2009 Symposium on Application Accelerators in High-Performance Computing (SAAHPC'09) will take place July 27-31, 2009, in Champaign, Ill., and aims to bring together developers of computing accelerators and end-users of the technology to exchange ideas and learn about the latest developments in the field…”

44. NTU, First Asia-Pacific CUDA CoE http://tinyurl.com/ajafx2 (IT NewsOnline) “…Nvidia Corp. and National Taiwan University (NTU) have announced that NTU has been named as Asia's first CUDA Center of Excellence…This appointment and our adoption of GPUs will empower our academic researchers to do world-changing research," said Prof. Ji-Wang Chern, Dean for Research and Development of NTU. "This partnership with Nvidia will help NTU improve the state of parallel computing education in Taiwan and equip the next generation of computational researchers with the tools they need to make great discoveries." "Taiwan is the global epicenter of technology innovation and NTU is one of the key universities cultivating engineers and developers that will go on to become true pioneers in the world of IT. We are delighted to recognize their contribution by naming NTU a CUDA Center of Excellence," said David Kirk, chief scientist at Nvidia…”



NEW NET Issues List for 20 Jan 2009

Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 20 Jan 2009, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 7:00 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering. This week we're upstairs at Tom's Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

The ‘net

1. Web Hosting’s Dirty Laundry http://blog.dreamhost.com/2006/05/04/web-hostings-dirty-laundry/ “…Your first thought would probably be to search around for reviews of some of the more popular web hosts, and then you’d probably wind up signing up with a highly-rated host…What do all of these so-called “review” sites actually do? They make money. A lot of money…The hosts that pay out the biggest commissions are usually the ones that you’ll find listed near the top of all these lists…We had always suspected these sites were crooked, so last month we decided to prove it…”

2. Lawyer Had No Idea About Section 230 Safe Harbors http://techdirt.com/articles/20090113/2207453397.shtml “…yet another defamation lawsuit has been filed by yet another person -- this time a dentist -- over a negative review…Yelp is clearly protected by section 230 safe harbors that make third party service providers immune from liability for actions of their users. This is pretty widely known among anyone involved in anything having to do with internet law... but was not known by the lawyer who filed the suit…Then, there's the bizarre response from the dentist, replying to the point that Yelp lets the service providers directly contact those who write negative reviews to try to clear up the problem. The dentist says: "I would be very upset and would not know what to say to them."…She doesn't know what to say to them, but has no problem dumping a lawsuit on them…”

3. Dumping Facebook friends for burgers http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfgate/detail?blogid=19&entry_id=34682 “…Burger King dropped its "Whopper Sacrifice" ad campaign this week--the one where Facebook members were urged to dump 10 of their friends in exchange for a coupon for a free Whopper. According to the companies, Facebook didn't like the way Burger King's software worked, and Burger King refused to change it. Normally, when a Facebook member "de-friends" someone, no notice is sent. But Whopper Sacrifice broadcast the names of people being rejected for hamburgers in a way that violated the spirit of the site, a Facebook spokesman said…Already, there is a petition on Facebook to resurrect Whopper Sacrifice…”

4. Lycos Europe To Shutter Mail, Tripod http://www.appscout.com/2009/01/lycos_mail_tripod_deathnot_so_1.php “…At 1:31 PM EST [18 Jan] Lycos posted this to their Lycos Buzz blog. "Lycos is not shutting down it's Tripod and Mail Services. In an article appearing this morning, TechCrunch erroneously reported that Lycos will be closing its Tripod and Lycos Mail services on Feb. 15. The information contained in the blog posting pertains to Lycos Europe products and services and affects Lycos Europe users only. The closing of these two products by Lycos Europe does not impact Lycos users in the U.S…”

5. Betting on telepresence http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/15/polycom-telepresence-cisco-tech-enter-cz_qh_0116polycom.html Disasters drove the video conference business…Then, it becomes mainstream. Those disasters were 9/11 and the SARS scare, both of which discouraged people from getting on a plane. Now it is the worldwide economic slowdown, with slashed travel budgets… the 2,600-employee firm has 1,200 video systems running for its own use, with about 300 calls a day with an average of four people on a call. With development offices in India, Denmark, Israel and across the U.S., "about 70% of the staff now works with someone who isn't located with them," Hagerty says "People meet and can't recall if they have met in person……”

6. Is Comcast Discriminating Against VoIP Providers? http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2339204,00.asp “…Comcast…is now under fire for allegedly giving priority to its own IP-based digital phone service over that of competing VoIP providers. The Federal Communications Commission on Sunday penned a letter to Comcast asking why its updated network management policy says that heavy bandwidth users might experience "choppy" VoIP communications on competitors like Vonage or Skype, but not necessarily on Comcast's own IP-based Digital Voice offering…The Comcast Web site says that Comcast Digital Voice is a separate, facilities-based IP phone service that is not affected by Comcast's new network management techniques. It would appear, then, that Comcast considers its Digital Voice offering a telephone service, not an Internet service, according to the FCC. If so, Comcast should be paying the same fees incurred by traditional phone providers…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

7. Interview with an Adware Author http://philosecurity.org/2009/01/12/interview-with-an-adware-author “…Matt Knox, a talented Ruby instructor and coder, talks about his early days designing and writing adware for Direct Revenue…I was utterly and grindingly broke for a little while. I started working on SPAM filtering software. That work got noticed by [Direct Revenue], who hired me to analyze their distribution chain…Maybe 4 or 5 months into my tenure there, a virus came out that was disabling some of the machines that we had adware on. I said, “I know enough C that I could kick the virus off the machines,” and I did. They said “Wow, that was really cool. Why don’t you do that again?” Then I started kicking off other viruses, and they said, “That’s pretty cool that you kicked all the viruses off. Why don’t you kick the competitors off, too?...It was funny. It really showed me the power of gradualism. It’s hard to get people to do something bad all in one big jump, but if you can cut it up into small enough pieces, you can get people to do almost anything…I should probably first speak about how adware works. Most adware targets Internet Explorer (IE) users because obviously they’re the biggest share of the market. In addition, they tend to be the less-savvy chunk of the market. If you’re using IE, then either you don’t care or you don’t know about all the vulnerabilities that IE has…If you also have an installer, a little executable, you can make a Registry entry and every time this thing reboots, the installer will check to make sure the BHO is there. If it is, great. If it isn’t, then it will install it…So we’ve progressed now from having just a Registry key entry, to having an executable, to having a randomly-named executable, to having an executable which is shuffled around a little bit on each machine, to one that’s encrypted– really more just obfuscated– to an executable that doesn’t even run as an executable. It runs merely as a series of threads. Now, those threads can communicate with one another, they would check to make sure that the BHO was there and up, and that the whatever other software we had was also up. There was one further step that we were going to take but didn’t end up doing, and that is we were going to get rid of threads entirely, and just use interrupt handlers…Eventually, instead of writing individual executables every time a worm came out, I would just write some Scheme code, put that up on the server, and then immediately all sorts of things would go dark. It amounted to a distributed code war on a 4-10 million-node network…S: In your professional opinion, how can people avoid adware? M: Um, run UNIX…”

8. Worm infects 1.1M Windows PCs in 24 hours http://tinyurl.com/7pzvbc (ComputerWorld) The computer worm that exploits a months-old Windows bug has infected more than a million PCs in the past 24 hours, a security company said today. Early Wednesday, Helsinki, Finland-based security firm F-Secure Corp. estimated that 3.5 million PCs have been compromised by the "Downadup" worm, an increase of more than 1.1 million since Tuesday…” [additional article http://voices.washingtonpost.com/securityfix/2009/01/tricky_windows_worm_wallops_mi.html]

Mobile Computing & Communicating

9. Your laptop data is not safe. So fix it. http://tech.yahoo.com/news/infoworld/20090119/tc_infoworld/122688 The largest single type of security breach is the stolen or lost laptop, according to the Open Security Foundation, yet these computers are among the least protected of all IT assets…There is a way for IT to protect those laptops and the confidential information they contain: encryption…Perhaps the most important advantage of full disk encryption, though -- beyond the peace of mind it gives your business's lawyers -- is the "safe harbor" immunity that accrues under many data privacy regulations…Ideally, you'll deploy the full-metal-jacket approach to laptop data protection: full disk encryption using the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) technology…the best plan B to TPM-enabled full disk encryption…is software-only full disk encryption, in which either the operating system or a third-party program performs the same encryption as with TPM but uses another method to store the encryption keys, such as a thumb drive or a smart card…software full disk encryption can still give you considerable peace of mind, as well as provide the "safe harbor" benefits afforded encrypted systems in data-privacy regulations…”

10. Verizon launching femtocell http://tinyurl.com/9y4fqh (Engadget) “…Verizon's…bringing femotcells to the masses with its…Wireless Network Extender later this month…The little black box will puke out a cloud of CDMA covering up to 5,000 square feet of domicile with support for up to three simultaneous calls…available in Verizon stores and online starting January 25 for $249.99 -- not a bad deal for Verizon, considering you're saving them the expense of erecting a tower…”

11. Developer's eye view of smartphone platforms http://www.infoworld.com/article/09/01/20/03TC-phone-platforms_1.html “…To understand the world of smartphone programming, I waded up to my ankles into six major platforms: the iPhone, Google Android, RIM BlackBerry, the Palm OS, Windows Mobile, and Nokia Symbian. I downloaded the development kits, wrote a few lines, and spoke with some programmers who have waded in a bit deeper…The ankle-deep survey left me in awe of the wide-open competition and opportunity for everyone. Unlike the desktop world, there are more than a few players, and the niches are evolving…Using HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, you can often come surprisingly close to native look and feel while covering all of the top phones…But only native apps make full use of the accelerometer, GPS, and other prize features. And if you want to build native apps, you'll have to make a choice -- regarding audience, devices, languages, tools…After peeking and poking all of these platforms, I came away assuming that we're only a few years away from the end of the desktop for many casual users…”

Open Source

12. Windows 7 is enough to kill Linux on the desktop http://tinyurl.com/7dyue7 (TheInquirer) FOR THE PAST three years I have been a Linux fan-boy using Ubuntu most of the time and Windows XP when I needed to play games or run CS desktop lay out stuff. In a bid to focus my bile on something other than Apple for a bit I decided to play with the new Windows 7 beta. I was disappointed. It was pretty good and, if I am right, could result in the move away from Voleware to Linux and OSX being stopped in in its tracks…I installed Open Office which worked fine and means that I can't see the point of any new version of Office, even if I made the switch to Windows 7 permanently. I also installed and ran a few of my favourite XP games which seemed perfectly happy under the new regime…Given the advantages of using Windows, particularly if you use open source software to do your office functions, it becomes harder to say that more user-friendly versions of Linux, such as Ubuntu are worthwhile…If Microsoft had released Windows 7 instead of Vista there would have been no rise of Ubuntu or OSX…The only thing that will keep people away will be the price…With a product like Windows 7 at a price of less than $100 it would clean up spectacularly. It will not do this of course which might just save other operating systems out there. Me, I will probably get Windows 7…”

13. Linux vs. Windows: Which is a better Web host? http://news.cnet.com/8301-13505_3-10144206-16.html “…Previously the difference between Linux and Windows hosting made a huge difference. Picking which operating system to host your website made a huge difference in what you could do with the server and what you could accomplish with the website. However, in today’s context of cross-system web hosting, there is little that practically separates these two operating systems: Linux and Windows…The first unique difference is how you access the server. Generally, both offer FTP access to your files, however, Linux is the only one that offers telnet or ssh access…The second difference between linux and windows hosting is that windows and linux support different languages. Linux tends to be associated with PHP, Perl and CGI while Windows is usually associated with ColdFusion and ASP…”


14. Google Circles the Wagons http://blog.wired.com/business/2009/01/google-circles.html “…The company has announced it will close three engineering centers, let go of some contractors and, most significantly for users, shut the doors on several Google services…Google has announced it is shutting down or ceasing development on Google Video, Mashup Editor, Notebook, Jaiku and Dodgeball…more likely than another round of mass closures are service limits, with premium upgrades as a way around them. We expect to see Google curtail more of its unlimited services…other services — like perhaps GrandCentral — may end up as fee-based premium services…”

15. Why Google Employees Quit http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/01/18/why-google-employees-quit/ “…Google HR set up a private Google Group to ask former employees why they left the company. We’ve been forwarded what appears to be authentic posts to the thread by a number of ex-Googlers, which we reprint below…The thread shows a brutal honesty about what it’s like to work at Google, at least from the point of view of employees who were unhappy enough to resign. Top amongst the complaints is low pay relative to what they could earn elsewhere, and disappearing fringe benefits seemed to elevate the concern. Other popular gripes - too much bureaucracy, poor management, poor mentoring, and a hiring process that took months. A few of the posts are more positive, and frankly there isn’t a whole lot here that you don’t see in other big companies…”

16. GDrive: It’s Alive! — Or So It Appears http://searchengineland.com/gdrive-its-alive-or-so-it-appears-16221 “…buzz and speculation about the status of Google’s unconfirmed online file storage service, informally dubbed “GDrive..over at Google Blogoscoped, there’s a screenshot of a menu featuring “Google Web Drive” and lots of domain related arguments for GDrive’s existence. If you’re tired of waiting for Google to formally launch online storage, Microsoft offers Skydrive with 25GB of storage…”

17. The Plot to Kill Google http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/17-02/ff_killgoogle?currentPage=all “…When Google's lawyers entered the smooth marble hallways of the Department of Justice on the morning of October 17, they had reason to feel confident. Sure, they were about to face the antitrust division—an experience most companies dread—to defend a proposed deal with Yahoo. But they had to like their chances…Now Barnett was signaling not just that the Google-Yahoo deal was dead but that the government saw Google as a potential monopolist. In fact, Barnett insisted, if the deal wasn't substantially changed or scuttled, he would sue within five days. It was a stunning blow. Google had expected a speedy approval. Now the company, whose brand is defined by its "Don't be evil" slogan, faced the prospect of being hauled into court on an antitrust charge. Google and Yahoo tried to salvage the negotiations, but on the morning of November 5, three hours before the DOJ was going to file its antitrust case, they abandoned the deal…a 94-page document titled "Google Data Collection and Retention,"…circulating around Washington…listed all the ways that Google hoards user information…The document, written by a consulting firm, was commissioned by AT&T, which says it was intended only for internal use. Protection from snooping, says AT&T public policy chief James Cicconi, is one of his firm's top priorities…Privacy is a newfound concern for the company, which in 2005 was one of the telecoms that allowed the National Security Agency to listen in on millions of phone calls…”

General Technology

18. Spore Sculptor 3D Printing Service http://replicatorinc.com/blog/2009/01/review-spore-sculptor-3d-printing-service/ “…I recently tested the Spore Creature Creator/Sculptor Service which takes your game character and prints it using ZCorp 3D Printers…The final product is better than most beta launches. The manufacturing complexity makes it even more impressive, but there is a lot of room for improvement…The major problem with 3D printing is the resolution. These Spore models are printed using the latest, top of the line technology that offers the highest resolution and the texture is still pronounced…If you are passionate about 3D printing technology it is easy to overlook, but it disappoints a lot of people…” [two other good links: http://replicatorinc.com/blog/2009/01/3d-printing-step-by-step/ http://replicatorinc.com/blog/2008/11/open-source-hardware/ ]

19. Seagate hard drive reliability problems? http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/01/16/barracuda_failure_plague/ “…Barracuda 7200.11 drives made in Thailand (ref: ST31000340AS with firmware level SD15) are failing at boot time with a firmware error that is said to lock the drive up and render it inoperable. Seagate's warranty procedure for failed drives has been used by owners, with an RMA (Return Merchandise Authorisation) number issued for the failed drive to be returned to Seagate and replaced. However, replacements are said to be of the same type, and so prone to the same error…A 17-page thread about this firmware failure problem is going strong on a Seagate forum. Frustrated users have complained that postings and threads have been removed by moderators…Seagate recently reduced its bare drive warranty period [from 5 years to 3 years]…”

20. Apple Mac Mini Based on Nvidia Ion http://www.tomshardware.com/news/apple-mac-nvidia-ion,6849.html “…the next generation of Mac Mini computers will be based on Nvidia's Ion platform…Because of the size of the Ion platform, we can expect the new Mac Mini to be even smaller than the current generation unit. Our source also informed us that Apple will be launching the new Mac Mini sometime in March of this year…”

21. Liquid Wood Is Plastic of Tomorrow http://tinyurl.com/8d5fs3 (DW-World) “…Norbert Eisenreich, a senior researcher and deputy of directors at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT) in Pfinztal, Germany, said his team of scientists have come up with a substance that could replace plastic: Arboform -- basically, liquid wood. It is derived from wood pulp-based lignin and can be mixed with a number of other materials to create a strong, non-toxic alternative to petroleum-based plastics…The cellulose industry separates wood into its three main components -- lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose…The lignin is not needed in papermaking, however. Our colleagues mix that lignin with fine natural fibers made of wood, hemp or flax and natural additives such as wax. From this, they produce plastic granulate that can be melted and injection-moulded…”

22. Dual Boot Windows 7 with XP/Vista http://www.techspot.com/guides/143-dual-boot-windows7/ “…because this is only a beta release most people simply aren't willing to part with their established installations of Windows Vista or XP. With that mind, we're going to look at one easy way of dual booting Windows 7 Beta with either Vista or XP in three painless steps…”

23. Trash into energy in your parking lot http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-10140500-54.html “…A small company called IST Energy has another vision: it's developed a shipping container-size contraption that turns your building's trash into electricity and heat. The company is expected to unveil the unit, called the Green Energy Machine (GEM), on Monday. The idea behind the GEM is to offset a building's energy use while dramatically cutting trash disposal fees…GEM is clean technology because it doesn't burn the trash. Instead, the machine uses gasification, a process that overall pollutes less than combustion…Feeding the maximum of three tons of trash will yield about 120 kilowatts of electricity and about double that in heat, which will fulfill about 15 percent of a building's energy needs…The bigger financial benefit is in cutting disposal fees…With an up-front cost of $850,000, a GEM unit will have a payback in three to four years, the company calculates. More likely, those interested will go with a leasing option that would eliminate the hefty up-front investment…”

Leisure & Entertainment

24. 'Zork' returns to the gaming world http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-262398.html When it comes to old school adventure games, it doesn't get much older than Zork, the Infocom franchise that started as a series of text-based adventures on the Tandy Color Computer, Apple II, Commodore 64…Jolt Online Gaming is dusting off the franchise--dormant since 1997's Zork Grand Inquisitor--and reviving it as a Web browser-based massively multiplayer casual online game (casual MMO)….No release date has been announced, but Jolt has said it will be accepting applications for beta testing on the game's official Web site…”

25. `Crayon Physics' game gets sequel http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/20090114/ap_on_hi_te/tec_techbit_crayon_physics “…The simplicity of the new "Crayon Physics Deluxe" is reminiscent of "Tetris" and other abstract mass-appeal games. Using a virtual crayon, the player must guide a ball to a target, typically on the other side of some obstacle. The shapes the player draws behave like real-life objects, tumbling to the bottom of the screen and hopefully pushing the ball toward its goal…The original "Crayon Physics" was a minor sensation when it was released on the Internet by its creator, Finnish computer science student Petri Purho, who developed it in just five days during a school break. A free demo version of the game is available for download for Windows users from crayonphysics.com…”

26. Dublin radio airs new U2 single http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090120/ap_en_mu/eu_ireland_people_u2 “…The first song from the band's first album in five years is ready for you to hear. U2 began broadcasting the up-tempo single "Get On Your Boots" Monday — first on RTE, Ireland's state broadcasters, then for free on the group's Web site…widely forecast to become the biggest-selling album of 2009. It is the band's 12th studio album…will be sold in an unprecedented five formats: a standard CD case with 24-page booklet; a "digipak" edition with a fold-out poster and rights to download a U2 film; a 64-page magazine version; a box edition that includes a DVD and hardback book; and a limited-issue vinyl LP…”

27. PC Game Retail Sales Drop 14% http://tinyurl.com/7opjpk (Yahoo) “…Retail PC game sales fell 14 percent in 2008, says research firm NPD Group, with revenue of $701 million down from $911 million in 2007 and $961 million in 2006. Where are all those absent hundreds of millions going...I haven't purchased a PC game from a retail store for years…I purchase all of them online…I despise sneaker shopping. I hate driving, peddling, or hoofing to malls and shopping centers thronged with people just as irritable as I am to be there, contributing to the systematized bedlam, wandering through rude, surly, elbowing crowds full of desultory consumers. I hate parking half a mile away in rain (or sleet, or snow) dodging other drivers haphazardly probing for rock-star stalls, stepping over pitted concrete rain puddles, tactically avoiding flocks of baby strollers and shoppers thrice-wide with shopping bags slung from arms like drooping wings. And the soundtrack: Hissing espresso machines, the whine of clean-sweepers, splashing dummy waterfalls, the grating whump-whump-whump of techno music, the toddlers on kid-leashes, howling like tea kettles…”

Economy and Technology

28. Obama’s Stimulus Plan Includes $6 Billion for Broadband http://tinyurl.com/a85om3 (Wall Street Journal) “…The $825 billion proposal from the Obama transition team and House Democrats includes $6 billion to improve the U.S. broadband infrastructure, which is lacking in many rural and mountainous areas… the incoming administration was looking at handing out the broadband grants through “existing structures,” so they can get the money out into communities quickly. There are just a few existing government programs that have given out broadband grants in the past, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s tiny Rural Development Broadband Loan and Loan Guarantee Program. The money could also flow through the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration or through a federal subsidy program run by the FCC…” [related articles: http://www.crn.com/it-channel/212901027 http://venturebeat.com/2009/01/15/stimulus-plan-32b-for-smart-grid-6b-for-broadband/ http://www.pcworld.com/article/157861/advocates_disagree_on_broadband_stimulus.html ]

29. Steve Jobs: Apple without its core? http://tinyurl.com/88p6st (BusinessWeek) “…Ultimately, there needs to be some gravitational force that pulls it all together," he said. "Otherwise, you can get great pieces of technology all floating around the universe, but it doesn't add up to much." The question now is whether Apple is losing its gravitational force. On Jan. 14, the 53-year-old Jobs said he will take a medical leave of absence through June. "My health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought," he said in a public statement. Within minutes of the news, Apple shares dropped 10%. The fear is that Jobs may never return…He's the perfectionist who pushes his team to create elegant, iconic products. He's the marketing guru who took technology advertising mainstream, with the Orwellian ad that introduced the Mac in 1984 and most recently with the "I'm a Mac" ads. And he's the master of the keynote address, capable of drawing unmatched publicity for Apple's latest products…His greatest value to Apple may be the influence he has with employees and outsiders. Only Jobs is capable of convincing the 32,000-person company that it can wade into new business—like music or cell phones—and rewrite the rules of competition. While mobile-phone rivals produce dozens of models designed to meet the needs of various consumers, he came out with a single iPhone—and took a big chunk of the business…”

30. Nortel files for bankruptcy protection http://tinyurl.com/9xum56 (TheGlobeAndMail) “…Nortel Networks Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday, a move that will likely see what was once Canada's great corporate success story broken up and sold to foreign rivals…Nortel easily qualified as the country's largest company at the peak of the tech boom in 2000, with a $366-billion (Canadian) market capitalization and 95,000 employees…Nortel stock that soared to $1,231 at the peak of the tech bubble – reflecting a recent consolidation in shares – closed yesterday at 38.5 cents on the Toronto Stock Exchange…”

31. Circuit City fails; 30,000+ employees lose jobs http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-10144441-17.html Circuit City, the world's second-largest electronics retailer announced on Friday that it has been forced into liquidation after attempts to sell itself to a third-party failed… Was it poor management that killed the company? That always plays a part. But more than anything, I think that Circuit City has met its demise today because, in my experience, it never offered the customer service that Best Buy did, nor the cheap prices one could find on Amazon…I am sad today to see that 30,000 of its employees, many of whom entrusted their job security to management, will be without jobs…As for Circuit City, there's not much left to say. It enjoyed a long life, and for a while, it led the way in electronics retail. But as its age started to show, and management failed to adapt, new and more nimble companies made their way to the front of the pack…”

32. Tech Layoffs Climb Above 100,000 http://tinyurl.com/6v72jn (ChannelInsider) “…Friday is becoming a dreaded day at most companies. What used to be seen as the start of the weekend is now the day most employees are advised they no longer have a job. Since the beginning of the year, IT vendors have slashed more than 19,000 jobs—mostly sales and marketing positions, but also technical and R&D positions have been affected. Since October, more than 100,000 jobs have been eliminated by IT vendors and solution providers…”

33. For Wind Turbine Manufacturers, Layoffs Begin http://tinyurl.com/8o6cwm (NYTimes) “…some of those jobs in the wind industry are becoming casualties of the economic slump…D.M.I. Industries, which manufactures turbine towers, is laying off 20 percent of its workers across three plants…The news comes barely six months after the company announced expansion plans that would make it the “largest wind tower manufacturer in North America.”…L.M. Glasfiber, a Danish turbine company, also announced 150 layoffs last week at a blade-making plant in Arkansas…Gamesa, a Spanish turbine maker, said it was initiating layoffs at an Eastern Pennsylvania factory — though it was expanding a factory in the western part of the state, which can make larger blades…The wind business, which requires an enormous amount of capital investment, has been hit especially hard by troubles in the banking sector…”

34. Cape Wind receives favorable environmental review http://tinyurl.com/9pcwsu (Boston Globe) “…the nation’s first proposed offshore wind farm -- proposed in Nantucket Sound -- received a favorable final environmental review from a key federal agency…The impacts appear to be nothing that cannot be mitigated," Luthi said of the project to erect 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound…The significance of the report coming out today is that it’s the capstone of an eight-year effort and permitting review…The central group leading the charge against Cape Wind, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, has promised lawsuits to prevent the construction of the wind farm and announced that it has started raising funds for a "legal defense fund."…”

Civilian Aerospace

35. Chicago Firm Protests Space Station Cargo Contract http://www.space.com/news/090116-space-station-cargo-protest.html Chicago-based PlanetSpace has filed a protest against NASA's decision to award space station resupply contracts valued at $3.5 billion to two other firms, one of which earned the lowest score for a bid that proposed the highest price…PlanetSpace, a start-up company whose subcontractors include Boeing Co. of Chicago, Denver-based Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Minneapolis-based Alliant Techsystems (ATK), earned a higher score and offered a lower price than Orbital Sciences…NASA, however, selected Orbital Sciences and Hawthorne, Calif.-based Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to haul 20 tons of cargo to the space station through 2016…SpaceX earned the highest score from NASA's Source Evaluation Board and offered the lowest price…Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for space operations, believed PlanetSpace relied too heavily on its subcontractors. He also expressed concern that the firm proposed using an existing rocket to provide initial cargo delivery…”

36. SpaceX Puts New Rocket Through Paces http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/090113-spacex-falcon9-launchpad.html “…SpaceX raised its first Falcon 9 rocket into a vertical launch position on Saturday at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to begin tests that the firm hopes will set the stage for an inaugural liftoff later this year. The Falcon 9 was hauled back down on Monday as SpaceX pushes through launch preparation paces…The new Falcon 9 rocket is the launch vehicle of choice for SpaceX's planned Dragon spacecraft, which the firm is building to haul NASA cargo to and from the International Space Station…I am highly confident that we will achieve our goal of being able to go from hangar to liftoff in under 60 minutes…The two-stage booster stands 180 feet (54.9 meters) tall and is 17 feet (5.2 meters) wide at its widest point…The first Falcon 9 rocket could make its launch debut by spring…SpaceX has five Falcon 9 launches slated for 2009…”

37. Cubesats - How Small Can Satellites Get? http://www.satmagazine.com/cgi-bin/display_article.cgi?number=1556330976 “…small, 1 kg satellites called Cubesats, so named due to their physical dimensions being that of a 10 cm cube. They are extremely popular as an educational tool at universities, but is it truly feasible to create a functioning satellite within so small a package? Additionally, do Cubesats have any practical use, or are they merely just a toy?...Minisatellites (200-500 kg) became the new point of focus. Even micro-satellites (below 200 kg) started to gain interest, one such example is the Danish 61 kg Ørsted satellite, which was launched in February of 1999 to perform measurements of the magnetic field of the Earth. Several universities have designed and built even smaller satellites called nanosatellites, which have a mass of less than 10 kg…As is the case for other universities, Stanford University and California Polytechnic State University (CalPoly) had been attempting to find a solution to these problems to allow students to launch and communicate with their own satellite as an integral component of their higher education…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

38. GPUs Used to Successfully Crack Wi-Fi Passwords http://tinyurl.com/98bzyp (HotHardware) “…The latest GPU-assisted app to come available is one designed for IT managers to make sure their wireless networks are secure--and inevitably for hackers to try to break into wireless networks. Russian-based ElcomSoft has just released ElcomSoft Wireless Security Auditor 1.0, which can take advantage of both Nvidia and ATI GPUs…At its heart, what ElcomSoft Wireless Security Auditor does is perform brute-force dictionary attacks of WPA and WPA2 passwords…”

39. Workshop on Exploiting Parallelism using GPUs http://www.gpgpu.org/cgi-bin/blosxom.cgi/2009/01/11 “…This workshop will focus on compilation techniques for exploiting parallelism in emerging massively multi-threaded and multi-core architectures, with a particular focus on the use of general-purpose GPU computing techniques to overcome traditional barriers to parallelization. Recently, GPUs have evolved to address programming of general-purpose computations, especially those exemplified by data-parallel models [Seattle, 22 – 25 Mar 2009]…”

40. AMD’s Fusion Cloud: Changing the Game http://www.hpcwire.com/blogs/Changing-the-Game-37682229.html “…a possible downside for AMD's GPU business. In a nutshell, if this new supercomputer is going to be doing all the heavy lifting rendering-wise in the server, why do you need GPUs in the client?...if AMD's petaflop rendering monster (containing 1,000 Radeon HD 4800 GPUs) is truly able to deliver a cutting-edge multimedia experience to low-end PCs, then why buy the expensive box at all?...if AMD is going to serve up graphics computation on demand, it's risking making the client-side GPU hardware redundant…”

41. "Fusion": can diversity save Moore's Law? http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20090120-amds-fusion-rebranding.html “…Multicore naysayers suggest that there is a definite upper bound on the number of general-purpose cores that you can usefully put onto a single die, and the more pessimistic of those put that bound at around 8 or 16 cores (due to memory bandwidth constraints)…AMD is suggesting that the way to get the most performance bang per transistor buck is not to create a die full of identical, general-purpose CPU cores, but to use a smaller number of such CPU cores to hand off workloads to more specialized on-die hardware blocks…One of the battles that NVIDIA has faced in getting the GPU into HPC applications for which it's a natural fit is that companies don't want to invest programmer time in software that only runs on one small vendor's hardware…OpenCL will solve this for NVIDIA, though, because it gives coders a generalized, multivendor way of talking to specialized, data-parallel, floating-point coprocessors (e.g., GPUs)…”