NEW NET Issues List for 28 Dec 2010

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 28 December 2010, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 7:00 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering. This week we're at Sergio's Restaurant again, 2639 South Oneida Street, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

The ‘net

1. Skype Supernode Snafu – Dec 2010 http://gigaom.com/2010/12/23/skype-ceo-tony-bates-i-am-sorry-here-is-an-update/ Tony Bates…has had better days. For the past 24 hours, he has been coordinating the efforts to bring one of the world’s largest communication networks back up: Skype…16.5 million of 25 million concurrent users are back online…The Group Video services and offline IM capabilities are not going to be working for some time, mostly because Skype is using those servers as supernodes…This outage, if anything, has made it even more clear how reliant people are on the service…A handful of Windows clients failed and set off a chain reaction that brought down Skype…” http://www.disruptivetelephony.com/2010/12/understanding-todays-skype-outage-explaining-supernodes.html “…Skype was down today…A ton of articles were written…pointing back to Skype's blog post…Some of these computers are what we call ‘supernodes’ – they act a bit like phone directories for Skype…Under normal circumstances, there are a large number of supernodes available. Unfortunately, today, many of them were taken offline by a problem affecting some versions of Skype…If you go back and read my primer on the technology behind Skype and P2P networks, I described supernodes as Skype clients that are on the public Internet and NOT behind a firewall or NAT device that broker the communication between two Skype clients…The supernodes…create the P2P "overlay network"... the "cloud"... that connects all Skype clients to each other…if you are running Skype on a computer - and you are NOT behind a firewall, there is a chance that your computer could become a supernode…the cool part about the "self-healing" aspect of the supernode architecture is that if a supernode goes down, Skype clients will simply attach to another supernode…Was it a software update that somehow affected the supernode algorithm?...My guess would be that there might also have been "cascading failures" in this scenario…when a supernode came back online, it may have been overwhelmed by the quantity of connection requests and soon failed again…Skype's blog post says this…Our engineers are creating new ‘mega-supernodes’ as fast as they can, which should gradually return things to normal…The information in this article is based on what technical material Skype has made publicly available plus information a number of us have been gathering over the years. It may or may not be accurate…”

2. No Signal: Homes Often Baffle Wi-Fi From Routers http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704774604576035691589888786.html “…My apartment has more than a dozen devices that feed off the network: two laptops, a printer, an e-reader, wireless speakers, two smartphones, an iPad and more. Yet getting gadgets to connect to my two-year-old wireless router is a dark art. I can surf the Web on the street in front of my house, yet can't get a signal sitting in bed…So I tested four top-of-the-line home wireless routers, each of which features the latest generation dual-band "wireless N" technology…None of the routers could deliver a 100% consistent wireless experience…One came close, thanks to a controversial signal-boosting feature that could potentially interrupt my neighbors' networks: the Netgear WNDR3700, which retails for $169.99…My tests weren't scientific studies…I conducted real-world torture tests designed to see how the routers might perform in challenging scenarios…I didn't test devices known as repeaters…because I wanted to see how far I could push the routers on their own…All the routers I tested, which included the $179 Apple Airport Extreme, feature a technology called simultaneous dual band. This means they really run two networks…the technology made little impact in my tests, because many devices don't yet support the new frequency, 5 GHz…Moreover, 5 GHz comes with a drawback: its signals usually can't travel as far through walls as the older technology, transmitting at 2.4 GHz…the biggest Wi-Fi problem I encountered was getting the network to reach the nooks and crannies of the house…To Mark's upstairs bedroom, the Netgear and Cisco routers could stream a video with ease, but the Apple would sometimes slow to a crawl…the Apple router was sometimes one-tenth the speed of the Netgear and Cisco…only the Netgear router was able without interruption to stream music from an iMac to speakers about 50 feet and five walls away…With the Netgear router, I experimented with a setting called "performance mode." Using it significantly improved the reliability of the network in some parts of my apartment…"channel bonding" or "20/40" mode, is controversial because it essentially pushes signals from your neighbors' Wi-Fi networks out of the way. The Wi-Fi Alliance…now requires routers to switch to a neighbor-friendly mode if other networks are around—but this Netgear router was certified prior to that rule. The other router makers say they either don't offer the option, or automatically downscale when there are neighboring networks…”

3. 150 Friends http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/26/opinion/26dunbar.html “…Facebook has revolutionized how we relate to one another…These sites may have allowed us to amass thousands of “friends,” but they have not yet devised a way to cut through the clunky, old-fashioned nature of relationships themselves. Our circle of actual friends remains stubbornly small, limited not by technology but by human nature…The critical component in social networking is the removal of time as a constraint. In the real world…we devote 40 percent of our limited social time each week to the five most important people we know, who represent just 3 percent of our social world and a trivially small proportion of all the people alive today. Since the time invested in a relationship determines its quality, having more than five best friends is impossible…Put simply, our minds are not designed to allow us to have more than a very limited number of people in our social world…no matter what Facebook allows us to do, I have found that most of us can maintain only around 150 meaningful relationships, online and off…a fact incorporated into the new social networking site Path, which limits the number of friends you can have to 50…Until relatively recently, almost everyone on earth lived in small, rural, densely interconnected communities, where our 150 friends all knew one another…the past century has worn away at that interconnectedness. As we move around the country and across continents…our list of 150 consists of a half-dozen subsets of people who barely know of one another’s existence, let alone interact…Emotional closeness declines by around 15 percent a year in the absence of face-to-face contact, so that in five years someone can go from being an intimate acquaintance to the most distant outer layer of your 150 friends. Facebook and other social networking sites allow us to keep up with friendships that would otherwise rapidly wither away. And they do something else…they allow us to reintegrate our networks so that, rather than having several disconnected subsets of friends, we can rebuild, albeit virtually, the kind of old rural communities where everyone knew everyone else…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

4. Little Brother (Doctorow) is here: American travel freedoms fade faster as TSA arrests people, rail and hotels join airport security measures http://www.kvue.com/news/local/Woman-arrested-at-ABIA-after-refusing-enhanced-pat-down-112354199.html “…Claire Hirschkind…is a rape victim and…has a pacemaker-type device…says her constitutional rights were violated…But the Transportation Security Administration disagrees. Hirschkind was hoping to spend Christmas with friends in California…Hirschkind said because of the device in her body, she was led to a female TSA employee and three Austin police officers…Hirschkind agreed to the pat down, but on one condition. "I told them, 'No, I'm not going to have my breasts felt,' and she said, 'Yes, you are,'" said Hirschkind. When Hirschkind refused, she says that "the police actually pushed me to the floor, (and) handcuffed me. I was crying by then. They drug me 25 yards across the floor in front of the whole security."…Other travelers…say they empathize with Hirschkind, but the law is the law. "I understand her side of it…but it is for our protection so I have no problems with it," said Gwen Washington…"It's unfortunate that that happened and she didn't get to fly home, but it makes me feel a little safer," said Emily Protine…” http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/dec/26/us-focusing-more-on-rail-hotel-security/ The U.S. has made air travel safer over the past year for Americans and is sharpening its focus on potential terrorists attacks on trains, subways and…hotels, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Sunday…” http://www.politico.com/blogs/politicolive/1210/Napolitano_see_something_say_something_campaign_isnt_Big_Brother.html The federal government's "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign to encourage citizen vigilance against terrorism threats doesn't amount to a Big Brother-style spying effort…Janet Napolitano said in an interview aired Sunday. "It just sounds very Big Brother to me, turning in the next door neighbor." CNN's Candy Crowley said to Napolitano…"It's not," Napolitano insisted. "It depends on the common sense of the American people…Crowley suggested that the type of activity that citizens are supposed to report is totally undefined, but Napolitano argued that…people can figure out for themselves what merits reporting…” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40614732/ns/us_news-airliner_security/ “…the pat-down of India's ambassador Meera Shankar last week at a Mississippi airport…has created an uproar, with India objecting to what U.S. officials say was a by-the-book procedure that does not exempt diplomats…Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the incident is being examined…The U.S. State Department said diplomats are subject to the same basic screening as other passengers at U.S. airports…Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she had looked into the matter and concluded that "it was by the book…” http://www.aolnews.com/2010/12/06/baywatch-beauty-feels-overexposed-after-tsa-scan/ “…D'Errico said. "I immediately asked why we were having to go through an extra search, and no one else was being made to do so…In a very sarcastic tone, and still holding me by the elbow, the agent responded, 'Because you caught my eye, and they' -- pointing to the other passengers -- 'didn't.'"…it is my personal belief that they pulled me aside because they thought I was attractive…They never even told me what they were doing at all, or that I had any choice," she said. "It was just, 'Stand here. Raise your arms above your head like this.' They never told me that they were going to be conducting a full-body scan, or that I had the option of being searched instead…I would have opted for the search…After the search, I noticed that the male TSA agent who had pulled me out of line was smiling and whispering with two other TSA agents and glancing at me…her boyfriend, Roy J. Bank, the president of Merv Griffin Entertainment…says…her getting additional screening and the line full of people I saw around us not getting additional screening is not making us any safer!"…TSA decides for you that you will consent to being scanned or felt up, or you simply won't be allowed your constitutional right to travel from one place to another freely…This could, and I'm sure does, happen to other women," she said. "It isn't right to hide behind the veil of security and safety in order to take advantage of women, or even men for that matter, so that you can see them naked. It's a misuse of power and authority…” http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/whistleblower-pilot-shadows/story?id=12481594 The airline pilot who spoke out anonymously after he was reprimanded by the TSA for posting videos showing security flaws at a major airport said today he…still feared retaliation from the Transportation Safety Administration, but he wanted to keep his job as a pilot…he took a series of videos with his cell phone to show major flaws he says still exist in airport security systems. The videos show how easily ground crews at San Francisco International Airport were able to access secure areas…airport security is kind of a farce. It's only smoke and mirrors so you people believe there is actually something going on here…he said he'd had enough, and wanted to do what he could to draw attention to what he says is still a major problem in airport security. "People don't understand that when they walk through the TSA checkpoints, well, they are getting, now they are getting a groping, but they don't understand that all those people you see outside, the ground personal, all the caterers, all the airline cleaners, they get virtually nothing…He first posted the videos to YouTube on November 28. Three days later, he says, four federal air marshals and two local sheriff's deputies showed up at his home to question him about the footage. The pilot filmed the conversation, during which the federal marshals confiscated his federally-issued firearm…It was a bit of overkill. I could have just dropped my badge and weapon in a FedEx box and FedExed it in for 20 bucks," said the pilot. "They sent six people over to pick up a handgun and a badge…” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40421711/ns/travel-travel_tips/ “…Travelers may be one of the most monitored groups of Americans. Whether it’s cameras in airports, hotels or train stations, software that tracks your activity when you book online, or applications that record your customer-service calls for "quality assurance purposes," you can be assured that someone is watching when you’re away…now travelers are watching back. Customers are taping calls and customer service interactions. They’re photographing hotels and berths that don’t meet their expectations and using the images and recordings to get the service they want. "Cell phones can easily capture the experience in real time and be uploaded to the Internet to be shared with the world…Consider what happened when one traveler suspected his car rental agent might renege on a promise to charge "no additional fees" on his vehicle: He recorded him with his phone. Later, when he was presented with a bill littered with surcharges, he called the agent and suggested the employee had been less than truthful. "He replied, 'I never said that',"…I played back the recording to him on the phone. He removed the extras from the bill."…TSA…does not prohibit anyone from videotaping at screening locations…Kim Usiak’s friend had a disagreement with an airline ticket agent…she pulled out her iPhone and began recording the conversation. The airline employee threatened to call the police. While Florida law states that both parties in a conversation must consent to being recorded, there’s an exception for "in-person" communications in a public place, where you might reasonably be overheard. The police sided with her friend…The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press publishes a helpful list of state statutes…Cameras embedded in a baseball cap, a book, or pen can be useful in documenting interactions with staff," said John Nardizzi, an attorney and security expert…Easy to use, legal, relatively inexpensive…the law is sometimes different when it comes to video recording…you can frequently legally record something with video that you wouldn’t be able to as audio-only…One solution to this problem may be a new federal law that explicitly allows people to monitor companies that monitor us…it would allow travelers to access the recorded conversations that are routinely taped for "quality assurance purposes" so that they can verify what a representative said — or didn’t say — in a call…” [more than you really wanted to know about TSA groping and travel hassles, but the freedom to travel in America anonymously and without government interference is quickly disappearing. Five year from now, kids in America will assume people always had to show their national ID card and be scanned/groped to use any public transportation, stay in a hotel or cross state borders. – ed. ]

5. What Happens When You Steal a Hacker's Computer http://hackaday.com/2010/12/25/a-hackers-marginal-security-helps-return-stolen-computer/ “…a hacker…was robbed and they got his desktop computer…Because of a peculiar combination of his computer’s configuration, and the stupidity of the criminal, he got it back…he had set up the machine to use a dynamic DNS service, updated via a script. Since the criminal didn’t wipe the hard drive he was able to find the machine online…he discovered that he could SSH into it, and even use VNC to eavesdrop on the new owner. This, along with a keylogger he installed, got him all the information he needed; the guy’s name, birth date, login and password information for websites, and most importantly his street address. He passed along this juicy data to police and they managed to recover the system…”

6. Big Brotheresque App Kills Your Automotive Anonymity http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/12/new-app-marks-the-end-of-automotive-anonymity/ A new app…lets frustrated drivers vent their anger at boneheaded motorists…it could raise your insurance premium. It’s like having thousands of unmarked police cars and speed cameras on every roadway, and it could spell the end of anonymity behind the wheel. DriveMeCrazy…is a voice-activated app that encourages drivers to report bad behavior by reciting the offender’s license plate into a smartphone. The poor sap gets “flagged” and receives a virtual “ticket,” which may not sound like much until you realize all the information — along with date, time and location of the “offense” — is sent to the DMV and insurance companies. Anyone can write a ticket, even pedestrians and cyclists…Even if you don’t use the program…you can’t opt out of being flagged if someone thinks you’re driving like a schmuck. Inghelbrecht is emphatic in saying he sees no privacy issues with the app…People think they can do bad things on the road because they think they can get away with it,” he said…If drivers know they’re being watched by smartphone-wielding vigilantes, Inghelbrecht figures they will refrain from aggressive behavior for fear of getting flagged. His goal is…700 lives saved annually…“The ability for monetization is actually really strong,” he said. “I don’t want to get into too much detail, but…Insurance companies rely on buying your driving record from your state’s motor-vehicle bureau, and they use predictive proxy data such as marital status, homeownership and ZIP code to determine your risk. Inghelbrecht sees insurance companies having great interest in a driver-behavior database that…Of course, the wisdom of the crowd may not hold up under the scrutiny of state regulators or insurance companies’ internal standards…we capture the day, the time, the location, obviously the license plate and the unique device identifier on [a flagger's] iPhone. You can quickly detect malicious use…multiple flags of the same driver from the same user are ignored…Inghelbrecht says someday his crowdsourced driver-behavior database may be worth more than relatively incomplete DMV records, much the same way that online review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp have gained in popularity over Michelin guides…”

7. Flaws in Tor anonymity network spotlighted http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/12/flaws-in-tor-anonymity-network-spotlighted.ars At the Chaos Computer Club Congress in Berlin, Germany on Monday, researchers from the University of Regensburg delivered a new warning about the Tor anonymizer network, a system aimed at hiding details of a computer user’s online activity from spying eyes. The attack doesn’t quite make a surfer’s activity an open book, but offers the ability for someone on the same local network—a Wi-Fi network provider, or an ISP working at law enforcement (or a regime’s) request, for example—to gain a potentially good idea of sites an anonymous surfer is viewing…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

8. The Rise of Apps, iPad and Android http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704774604576035611315663944.html “…There were 81 million smartphones sold world-wide in the third quarter…almost twice as many as a year earlier. They accounted for nearly one in five mobile phones sold that quarter…smartphones could account for nearly three of every four phones sold by the middle of the decade…momentum in technology is now with devices that can easily be carried around…the defining moments of that transition this year and…what to expect in 2011…IPAD…Apple created a new mobile category with its iPad touchscreen tablet computer…Coming next: Competition. So far, Apple has had the tablet market essentially to itself…ANDROID…it wasn't until 2010 that Android hit its stride…Google's partnership with Verizon Wireless and…Motorola and HTC Corp…saw Android pass Apple in market share…and ensured Google's profitable search engine will be a mainstay on mobile devices…Coming next: Cheap smartphones…with some predicting Android phones will sell at unsubsidized prices under $100…APPS…2010 was the Year of the App…apps have grown from time-killers into an ecosystem seen as a key to keeping consumers loyal to their phones…Apps…spawned a cottage industry with thousands of developers…and start-ups focused on churning out mobile programs…Coming next: Apps go corporate…GOING 4G…U.S. wireless networks moved…into their fourth generation…first generation was analog…second was digital…third allowed fast data connections…fourth-generation technology promises…service that will make wireless video a breeze…Coming next: Paying for what you use…AT&T has already dropped its unlimited data plan for new users…Users are going to have to start watching bits the way they used to count minutes…PARTS SHORTAGES…transistors, resistors and screens showed their clout…Droid Incredible went on prolonged back order almost immediately…due to shortages of its high-tech display. Insufficient supplies of basic components…cost…Ericsson around $500 million in sales in the second quarter…Coming next: Samsung…new facility…opens in July. Capacity will go up to 30 million screens a month from three million currently…SECURITY/PRIVACY…smartphone makers, app developers and users are well behind the curve when it comes to securing mobile devices…Hackers have turned up embarrassing holes in devices, and financial institutions copped to weaknesses in banking apps…there's plenty of intentional leakage…examination of 101 smartphone apps found 47 transmitted your location and five sent personal details…Coming next…Chip makers, carriers, and handset makers are going to roll out new security features…CHINA…Chinese makers of low-cost, unbranded cellphones doubled their market share over the past year to account for 33% of all cellphone sales in the third quarter…Coming next: Chinese smartphones. Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp. are rolling out Google-powered phones that could be sold by carriers for as little as $50…DIGITAL WALLET…It used to be stores had the advantage once you were inside: You knew their price, but not what their competitors were charging…Now, shoppers can use their smartphones to find better deals…wireless carriers are looking to turn phones into digital wallets…Coming next: Purchasing on mobile phones takes off…as smartphone penetration increases…LOCATION, LOCATION…Everybody had high hopes for location-based services and ads…But it hasn't worked out as expected…Just 4% of Americans have tried location-based services, and only 1% use them weekly…Coming next:Try, try again…Expect more coupons and other marketing offers to roll out.”

9. 2011 will be the year Android explodes http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2010/12/22/2011-will-be-the-year-android-explodes/ “…269.6 million smartphones sold this year, compared to the 173.5 million units shipped in 2009. In 2011, we might see half a billion…Smartphones will likely blow by traditional computers next year as the way most of the world gains access to the Internet. Two major factors will drive this, in tandem: Wireless infrastructure is getting better every day, and hardware is getting cheaper…Broadcom last week announced its BCM2157 - Mass-Market 3G HSDPA "Android" Baseband chipset. The platform provides everything a modern smartphone builder needs: a dual core ARM processor, Bluetooth, GPS, support for up to a 5-megapixel camera, support for capacitive HVGA (320x480 like iPhone 3GS)…The chipset will work on AT&T (T) and T-Mobile's 3G networks in the US and on global GSM providers….BCM2157…is able to run more efficiently, meaning less battery power will be needed…The dual-core processors will run at 500-800mhz…phones made from the BCM2157 chipset will retail for under $100 and may dip as low as $75…By this time next year, Broadcom says it will release a follow-up chip…That Nexus S that costs $530 now off contract will cost just a fraction of that in just one year…There is another chipmaker out of China building the same type of chipset for 3G EVDO Rev. A, the type of network that Sprint and Verizon use…at $100, many first-world shoppers will forgo the subsidized two year contracts and instead choose month to month plans…That, in turn will likely push data prices down…To entice low end smartphone users away from just using Wifi, carriers will have to make affordable data plans…unless Apple has a plan to keep up, their iPhone, once one of the only usable smartphone games in town, may wind up back where most Apple products are slotted-- at the top of the market, affordable only to those willing and able to pay a premium for Steve Jobs' aesthetic sensibilities…”

10. Android Market Tops 200K Apps http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2374806,00.asp In a matter of months, it appears that Google's Android Market has doubled in size. Numbers from AndroLib.com show more than 200,000 apps available in the store as of Tuesday. At the end of October, Google confirmed that the Android Market had surpassed the 100,000 app milestone. Google has yet to confirm the latest numbers…with more than 2.5 billion apps downloaded from the Android Market…it seems Google's platform is gaining ground. The Android Market debuted in October 2008 with just 34 apps and nine games…”

Open Source

11. School district saves more than $100,000 by switching to Linux http://www.azcentral.com/community/westvalley/articles/2010/12/27/20101227dysart-unified-school-district-saves-monday.html In a little-known approach to saving money, the Dysart Unified School District has switched about 3,000 of its computers from the Microsoft Windows operating system to Linux. Never heard of Linux? It's a free operating system widely used for servers, which are the backbone of computer networks…After the district was hit with budget cuts last year, its information technology department determined that switching to Linux would be a reasonable step…Some believe that, as school technology budgets shrink - and in some cases disappear - more districts will consider jumping off the Microsoft ship. "It could lead to an "open-source revolution," said David Ligon, director of grants and technology for the Higley Unified School District. "In the current fiscally conservative climate, most schools cannot justify the significant expense it would take to upgrade to Windows 7…”

12. OpenBSD code audit uncovers bugs, but no evidence of backdoor http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2010/12/openbsd-code-audit-uncovers-bugs-but-no-evidence-of-backdoor.ars “…de Raadt outlined his current perspective on the controversy and his interpretation of the findings that have emerged from the ongoing code audit…Reviewers have uncovered several bugs…but the nature of the bugs suggests that they were not intentional, nor were they intended to facilitate a backdoor. The most serious revelation so far is the discovery of a bad conditional expression in older versions of the Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP) code. This hole was quietly closed in 2002 without the usual vulnerability disclosure process…Reviewers also discovered potential susceptibility to cipher-block chaining (CBC) oracle attacks in some drivers, where the implementation doesn't generate fresh, random values for the CBC initialization vector…a fix was promptly devised…de Raadt describes the CBC IV bug as a "pretty serious accident." He doesn't believe that the bugs that have been found so far were introduced intentionally or with the aim of planting a backdoor…He suspects that NETSEC was involved in developing OpenBSD backdoors, but thinks it is unlikely that the code was ever actually merged into OpenBSD…”


13. Will 2011 See App Makers Thinking Google Android-First? http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/28/2011-android-iphone-apps/ “…there was a ton of talk about 2011 being the year in which Android “explodes” onto the market…despite Android as a whole already outselling the iPhone, there’s little debate that amongst developers, iOS is still the platform you develop for first. But this could change as well in 2011…the popular Pulse news reader app…started as an iPad app first, then expanded to the iPhone, then came to Android. Kothari credits both the support they’ve received from Apple and the press surrounding the iPad as the reason why they’ve been so iOS-centric up until now. But, “our thinking about the Android platform has changed significantly over the last couple weeks…A few interesting things have happened on Android recently…i) Revamp of the Android store…and much better discovery of apps, in general…ii) More powerful Android phones/Tablets…iii) Getting featured on the Market: Getting featured on the App Store gets you tons of downloads, easily 10x your normal traffic…”

14. First impressions: Google TV delights http://www.betanews.com/joewilcox/article/First-impressions-Google-TV-delights/1293393461 “…I set up the Logitech Revue on Christmas Eve and the family is absolutely loving it. Revue/Google TV delivers one of the best non-cable-provider set-top box experiences I've ever had testing these devices…I'm dumbfounded by how good Google TV is right now…Initially, I found Revue setup to be daunting…I was flummoxed by instruction to connect my IPTV settop box to the Revue. I figured that could only lead to trouble…Logitech provides an HDMI cable in the box, which I used to connect my AT&T U-verse tuner to the Revue…I then turned on the Revue and TV, which launched a 12-step setup process…I balked at the 12-step process, which was more than Apple TV ever demanded. But Revue/Google TV would be doing more -- gulp, controlling the AT&T settop box and television…Google TV starts from Revue's Home button, which serves up appropriate services/applications, such as Amazon Video-on-Demand, Netflix, television and other services. Chrome browser is also available, and it's surprisingly useful and integrated into other experiences…Pretty much any content available in a browser is accessible on Google TV, although the exceptions are perplexing…From a user interface perspective, Apple TV is much more visually appealing. But I found searching for and renting movies from Amazon VoD on Google TV to be much more functional…I often search Apple TV and can find nothing to watch, because of the presentation and cumbersome search capabilities. So less than two days using Google TV…and…The Apple TV is boxed; I'm done with it. Google search is what makes the experience so far superior to using either U-verse alone or another settop box…Google search didn't just cover the Web but future U-verse programming. Clicking "Google TV" took me to information about the show and option to record using the U-verse DVR…that's slick…Google search is simply amazing and, as I'll explain in a later post, may fundamentally change how I use the television…”

General Technology

15. Racetrack: New IBM memory promises faster, higher-capacity devices http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-20026553-76.html “…After spending six years as a theoretical concept, the memory, dubbed Racetrack, finally is a huge step closer to reality…This revolutionary type of memory could open up a whole new world for laptops, smartphones, and other mobile devices. Users would be able to store as much as 100 more times data on their portable gadgets, perhaps keeping as many as 500,000 songs or 3,500 full-length movies on one mobile device. And since Racetrack would use considerably less power, a single battery charge could power a device for weeks rather than days or hours…Racetrack combines the best elements of flash memory and magnetic storage…Unlike conventional memory, which needs to seek out the data it needs, Racetrack automatically moves the data to where it can be used…The data itself is stored in magnetic regions known as domains…Racetrack memory can move these domains at hundreds of miles per hour and stop them at atomically precise spots along the nanowire, allowing huge amounts of information to be retrieved in less than a billionth of a second…Recent developments in the field of spintronics, which focuses on the spin of electrons, is what allows for the movement of the bits along the nanowires in Racetrack memory, explained Parkin. That opens up the ability to read and write more data very quickly at specific points along those wires…Now that the physics have been proved and demonstrated, the next challenge for IBM is to begin building prototypes…”

16. Five Best Virtual Machine Applications http://lifehacker.com/5714966/five-best-virtual-machine-applications Most modern computers are powerful enough to run entire operating systems within your main operating systems, which means virtual machines are more commonplace today than ever. Here's a look at the five most popular virtual machine applications. Virtual machines allow you to run one operating system emulated within another operating system. Your primary OS can be Windows 7 64-bit, for example, but with enough memory and processing power, you can run Ubuntu and OS X side-by-side within it. Earlier this week we asked you to share your favorite virtual machine application, and now we're back to highlight the five most popular picks…VirtualBox…Parallels…VMware…QEMU…Windows Virtual PC…” [VirtualBox 4.0 was just released – ed.]

17. Synology Announces New 15TB NAS Device http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/214523/synology_announces_new_15tb_nas_device.html Synology America Corp…announced the release of its newest server, the Disk Station DS1511+. Synology, a manufacturer of network attached storage devices for homes and businesses, has a reputation for creating feature-rich NAS solutions for a variety of audiences, and this latest unit should satisfy small businesses, prosumers, and network administrators. Capable of storing up to 15TB of data…The $900 DS1511+ is the successor to Synology's DS1010+ server model. Alone, the new device can hold up to five 3TB SATA hard drives…When it is connected with two of Synology's DX510 server storage expansion units, it can manage and process…15 3TB drives…in a RAID 5 configuration the DS1511+ can write the drives at a rate 165.91 MB/sec, and reads them at 197.8 MB/sec…”

18. Ford Adding Automatic Engine Start-Stop to All Cars http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2374756,00.asp “…Auto Start-Stop…will be added to the Ford Escape Hybrid, Fusion Hybrid, and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid in 2011. In 2012…the feature will also be added to non-hybrid vehicles in North America…Auto Start-Stop for gasoline engines can improve fuel economy by at least 4 percent…can go as high as 10 percent…In city driving, the engine restarts the second a driver's foot leaves the brake pedal…Auto Start-Stop uses an enhanced 12-volt car battery and upgraded starter motor…An electric pump will keep engine coolant circulating through the heater so drivers stay warm in cold weather…Ford also announced that…Sync-equipped Ford Fiesta vehicles can download AppLink, which allows drivers voice control over the apps on their smartphones…the list of Sync-compatible devices…includes Android and BlackBerry phones…iPhone will be added in early 2011…”

19. A.I. Autos: Leave the Driving to Us http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/12/ff_ai_drivebywire/ “…The 200-mile trip from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe can be a frustrating slog in the wintertime traffic on Interstate 80. Speeds in the fast lane swing from 90 to 30 for no discernible reason…Stick-shift drivers collapse with dead legs on the side of the road; even the P-R-N-D crowd can be seen massaging their sore knees at roadside burger joints…Not me. I’m playing the license plate game and humming through playlists…in a borrowed Mercedes-Benz S550…We’re bopping through the same unpredictable range of velocities as everyone else, but I haven’t touched a pedal in hours. The Benz is doing most of the driving, keeping us a comfortable distance from the cars ahead with its next-gen cruise-control system. The core of the setup is a pair of radar emitters—a narrow-banded one that pings vehicles up ahead and a wide-angle unit that watches the rest of the traffic…The driver specifies a maximum speed, and the car does its best to hit that number—without hitting anything else…first time you let the car do its thing is a magically scary experience: You see the cars ahead closing at a rate that activates the “I’m going too fast” reflex; your foot hovers over the brake pedal as your frontal cortex strenuously attempts to override your survival instinct…Cruise control is just the most obvious sign of a particular kind of AI that has been accelerating for decades. Think about it: Antilock brakes know when to back off the pedal. Airbags know that you just smacked into something. Stability control knows that you just overcooked your Volvo into that hairpin and need a little help to stay out of the ditch. Your nav system knows where you are, your wipers know it’s raining, that annoying seat-belt chime knows you’re flouting the law. In short, modern cars are loaded with sensors and computing power. The 2011 Chevy Volt, for example, runs on some 10 million lines of code—more than Lockheed Martin’s new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter…The by-wire throttle first made its way into cars in 1988…and it now makes radar-assisted cruise control possible in…Fords, Lincolns, Volvos, Jaguars, and Mercedes…”

DHMN Technology

20. LVX: wireless internet via LED lights? http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hx8V8ANOMWfzdMpMuF11ESWK9wDw “…lights will transmit data to specially equipped computers on desks below by flickering faster than the eye can see…The first few light fixtures built by LVX System, a local startup, will be installed Wednesday in six municipal buildings in this city of 66,000 in…Minnesota. The LVX system puts clusters of its light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, in a standard-sized light fixture…A light on the modem talks back to the fixture overhead, where there is sensor to receive the return signal and transmit the data over the Internet…computers on the desks aren't connected to the Internet, except through these light signals…first generation of the LVX system will transmit data at speeds of about 3 megabits per second, roughly as fast as a residential DSL line…the approach could be a vital complement to the existing wireless system…a second-generation system that will roll out in about a year will permit speeds on par with commercial Wi-Fi networks…For the city, the data networking capability is secondary. The main reason it paid a $10,000 installation fee for LVX is to save money on electricity down the line, thanks to the energy-efficient LEDs. Pederson said one of his LED fixtures uses about 36 watts of power to provide the same illumination that 100 watts provides with a standard fluorescent…Pederson's previous company, 911 EP, built high-powered LED roof lights for squad cars and other emergency vehicles. He said he sold the company in 2002. He said the visible-light network grew out his interest in LEDs…St. Cloud…had been considering LVX for some time…They have been talking about it with us for couple of years, and frankly it took a while for it to sink in…”

21. XinShanZhai: Seeed Studio and Facilitate Open Innovation http://www.mobinode.com/2010/12/27/xinshanzhai-seeed-studio-and-facilitate-open-innovation/ Seeed Studio was founded 3 years ago in Shenzhen to explore combining open source hardware and the electronics supply chain in Shenzhen. Today, Seeed Studio employes over 30 engineers and support staffs with over USD$1 million in annual revenue…Seeed’s current focus is to grow its WISH platform…a ecosystem to support open source hardware designers to better manage the product life cycle. WISH platform let designers and users propose requests and new design and through the community voting and pre-ordering process…Seeed also works with partners sites such as Dangerous Prototypes to promote the platform. Eric’s 30 minutes talk was followed by over 2 hours of heated discussion on the topics of open source hardware, innovation and manufacture. The talk and discussions were livecast on Sina Weibo…”

22. Android tv coming from Vidtonic as DIY kit http://androidcommunity.com/android-tv-coming-from-vidtonic-at-ces-as-build-your-own-kit-20101227/ “…Android TV…is made by Vidtonic and its an IPTV kit powered by Android…Each pack includes a TV housing, cables, 1080p LCF panel in various sizes, power supply, and motherboard using an ARM/DSP microprocessor solution…Let’s level the playing field for TV application developers as it has been done in the mobile marketplace. Your skills as an Android developer in the mobile space can now translate directly to the consumer electronics…The HomeBrew Kit…Is a hardware/software platform kit designed for AndroidTM developers to bring their applications to the TV screen…Allows enthusiasts to build their own television, powered by Android…Vidtonic, a Fort Wayne, Indiana-based company, is a consumer video product development company that specializes in using open source technologies such as Linux and Android…”

Leisure & Entertainment

23. CityVille eclipses FarmVille as the world’s biggest game http://venturebeat.com/2010/12/24/merry-christmas-zynga-cityville-eclipses-farmville-as-the-worlds-biggest-game/ In just 22 days, Zynga’s CityVille has eclipsed FarmVille as the world’s biggest game…Now the challenge will be to make money from all of those users…CityVille is a city simulation like SimCity, but far simpler and more social. For instance, you can open a chain of stores and operate them as franchises in your friends’ towns…the concept was to create a game that felt like you were playing it in real time…The questions now are, will users will stick around and will they will spend money? Zynga’s games are free-to-play, where users can play for free and spend real money on virtual goods such as tractors in FarmVille…”

24. Not motivated? Make a game of it. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-ca-gamification-20101226,0,5881081.story “…Now that 97% of teens and more than half of adults play video games, companies have caught on to the medium's addictive powers. Websites and apps are using virtual points, levels, leader boards, badges and challenges to motivate people to stay healthy, watch television or read a newspaper…gamification is now a full-blown movement, and the first Gamification Summit will take place in San Francisco in January…But while some believe this phenomenon is a motivation machine that will dominate lives in coming years, others think it's a manipulative fad that does not acknowledge how humans' brains really work…new technology allows gaming to extend its tentacles even further. Blackberries and iPhones can record and monitor personal information at all times…A game can be particularly helpful in an area such as financial planning, in which it makes arduous tasks sexier. The personal finance site Mint.com…introduced a "goals" feature, which makes a game out of buying a home or erasing your debt…Epic Win makes a game out of to-do lists by spoofing role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons and World of Warcraft…One Epic Win user…says the game reminds her to do simple things such as eat her vitamins. "I find myself being more motivated…One particularly ambitious startup is SCVNGR, whose mission is to "create a game layer on top of the world"…Vail Resorts is launching Epic Mix, a program to gamify skiing. A radio frequency chip inside your lift ticket is sensed by 90 gates spread across Vail's resorts, recording where you've skied and how many vertical feet you've racked up…Badges can be especially helpful in an area such as health and fitness, in which it's hard to see your body change with the naked eye…Good games offer a finely calibrated balance between difficulty and reward, with some uncertainty and surprise thrown in at the right moments. Some psychologists argue that extrinsic motivation (when people are driven by rewards) can actually decrease people's intrinsic motivation…Sebastian Deterding, a PhD student…who is studying gamification, notes that its proponents "believe virtual games are motivating because they dole our rewards…Whereas everything we know about the psychological value of video games is that they're intrinsically motivating."…a professor of communications at Stanford…says that in the last couple of years companies have begun to shed their allergy to combining work and fun. "When you're working in a call center, there is the stunning boredom of call after call," he says. "The pain and the value is incredibly significant. If you can keep those call center workers two more months, that would be huge. If you could change energy usage by 1% in households, that would be huge…”

Economy and Technology

25. Stock Trading in Private Companies Draws Scrutiny http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2010/12/27/stock-trading-in-private-companies-draws-scrutiny/ “…A red-hot trading market has developed in the shares of the world’s leading social networking companies: Facebook, Twitter, Zynga and LinkedIn…none of the companies are listed on a public stock exchange…the Securities and Exchange Commission wants to learn more about the business of these stock trades…Over the last year, several private exchanges have matched up buyers and sellers of shares in these fast-growing companies…Driving this activity is the social networking phenomenon…Facebook, the social networking leader, and Zynga, a popular maker of online games, already generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Twitter has more than 150 million users, and just received $200 million in venture financing. LinkedIn, another social networking site, has become a Facebook for professionals…Much of the supply comes from former employees at these companies and their early stage venture capital investors looking to exit their stakes…Part of what is driving this emerging market is the shifting dynamics of initial public offerings on Wall Street, particularly in the technology sector, as companies take longer to tap the public markets…”

26. Intel solar spin-off SpectraWatt to close plant http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-20026501-54.html Solar panel manufacturer SpectraWatt, which was spun out of chip giant Intel, will close its newly opened New York plant…SpectraWatt was created in 2008 and funded with a reported $91 million to create silicon cells for solar panels. Earlier this year, it moved it headquarters from Oregon to upstate New York…SpectraWatt was spun out of Intel two years ago to manufacture silicon solar cells…it will shut down the plant, which started operating in May this year…winter weather in Europe caused a slowdown in solar projects, cutting demand for its solar cells…all solar cell and panel providers face intense price pressure from global competitors…driven in part by a number of Chinese manufacturers…”

Civilian Aerospace

27. SS2 Glide Tests Exceed Expected Progress http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/awst/2010/12/20/AW_12_20_2010_p32-277650.xml&headline=SS2%20Glide%20Tests%20Exceed%20Expected%20Progress&channel=space “…Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo…Testing has been going quite a bit better than we’d originally hoped, and we’ve been able to make glide flights ahead of what we’d anticipated in terms of flight-to-flight turn-around time…Virgin Galactic…remains on target to becoming the world’s first commercial space line…WK2 is currently flying with landing gear down and locked pending a modification. This design change, made following a partial gear collapse on a training flight in August, is “really close” to being implemented…Scaled has progressively increased the flight envelope of SS2 over three glide flights. The latest, on Nov. 17, increased top speed to 246 KEAS (knots equivalent airspeed) and loads to 3.5g. Lasting approximately 11.5 min…”

28. SpaceX launches new space era http://www.sbsun.com/editorial/ci_16953902 “…Until the flight by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) on Dec. 8, only large nations such as the United States, Russia, China, Japan and India, and the European Space Agency had been able to launch a spacecraft into orbit and retrieve it. Although there were no people aboard SpaceX's craft, there easily could have been. In a few years, there probably will be…before anyone climbs aboard a SpaceX vehicle, the company will be used to transport supplies to and from the space station. A first flight is planned for next summer…Within a few years, the company says it will be able to land its spacecraft on solid ground, similar to the way the lunar lander touched down on the moon…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

29. NVIDIA Names 20 New CUDA Research and Training Centers http://www.hpcwire.com/offthewire/NVIDIA-Names-20-New-CUDA-Research-and-Training-Centers-112364439.html NVIDIA today announced the addition of 20 new CUDA Research Centers and CUDA Teaching Centers…focused on leveraging the immense parallel processing power of graphics processing units (GPUs) to address today’s most challenging computing issues and drive the next wave of scientific discovery. CUDA Research Centers are recognized institutions that embrace and utilize GPU Computing across multiple research fields. CUDA Teaching Centers have integrated GPU computing techniques into their mainstream computer programming curriculum. The new centers include…Boise State University…University of New Mexico…Epitech – Game Development Lab (France)…University of Southern California – GamePipe Lab…There are more than 350 universities worldwide teaching the CUDA programming language, and more than 100,000 programmers actively developing applications on CUDA GPUs,” said Bill Dally, chief scientist at NVIDIA…”

30. Intel: Why a 1,000-core chip is feasible http://www.zdnet.co.uk/news/emerging-tech/2010/12/25/intel-why-a-1000-core-chip-is-feasible-40090968/ “…Intel engineer Timothy Mattson…told the audience that one of the Terascale chips…could theoretically scale to 1,000 cores…if built, could that chip be effectively programmed?...We have shared memory that is not cache-coherent between cores. Can we use that together with the message passing to make programming the chip acceptable to the general-purpose programmer?...that…leads to…whether we have usage models and a set of applications that would demand that many cores…It depends on, one, how much of the program can be parallelised and, two, how much overhead and load-imbalance your program incurs. We talk about this in terms of Amdahl's law. This law says that we can break down a program into a part the speeds up with cores — the parallel fraction — and a part that doesn't — the serial fraction…”



Sergio's Restaurant and Small Business Websites

Sergio's Restaurant in Appleton, Wisconsin, USA, has a new website, although this new website isn't the first hit when doing a Google search for the term, sergio's restaurant appleton.

This quandary (not having the official website be the first hit) highlights two issues regarding small business websites:
  1. How can a small business get its 'official' website to be the first hit when doing a well-worded Google search, because that's what the searcher most likely wanted to find?
  2. What are the five basic online marketing action items every small business owner should do to maximize the effectiveness of time and money spent on the internet?
These two issues will be discussed at this week's NEW NET meeting on 28 December and at this week's ABC/TechAdvised meeting with Andy M of B.R.I.T. , an Appleton small business which provides computer service and helps other small businesses use today's free or low-cost digital business tools.

Future posts here on myDigitechnician will look at how small businesses can best address the above two issues to increase their revenue and profit.


NEW NET location for 28 Dec 2010 Mtg = Sergio's

NEW NET’s 28 Dec 2010 meeting will be 7 – 9 PM at Sergio’s Restaurant, 2639 South Oneida Street, Appleton; backup location, Tom’s on Westhill Blvd.


NEW NET Issues List for 21 Dec 2010

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 21 December 2010, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 7:00 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering. This week we're at Sergio's Restaurant, 2639 South Oneida Street, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

The ‘net

1. Snapshot of the Public BitTorrent Landscape http://torrentfreak.com/a-snapshot-of-the-public-bittorrent-landscape-101214/ In a few months BitTorrent will celebrate its tenth anniversary, and in these years it has become the preferred technology to share files online…2005, the BitTorrent landscape was totally different from what it is today. There were just a few hundred thousands files being shared, compared to the millions of files that are out there today…today we present a snapshot of the BitTorrent landscape at the end of 2010…the number of public torrents exceeds at least 10 million…close to 30 million peers were sharing a torrent at the time this snapshot was taken…video content is by far the most popular category on BitTorrent. The ‘video’ category contains more than half of all torrents available, and two thirds of all active BitTorrent users are downloading or sharing video content…all available files on BitTorrent add up to a massive 12,037.9 TB…Movies are by far the largest ‘video’ subcategory with 2,012,432 torrents, followed by TV which lists 1,011,607 torrent files…Movies have 7,173,330 seeders and 2,851,119 leechers…One of the categories that has been growing quickly in the last year is ‘books’. We currently count 399,267 available ebook torrents (including magazines), with 662,228 seeders and 172,811 leechers. Ebooks are followed by audio books, with 81,841 torrent files and comics with 15,774 available torrents…”

2. What’s going to happen with Delicious? http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/20/delicious-yahoo-social-bookmarking On Thursday a leaked screenshot from an internal Yahoo meeting revealed that the company proposed to "sunset" its popular social bookmarking service Delicious. Users on Twitter and across the blogosphere went into meltdown: what would that mean to their carefully curated bookmarks? Would everything be lost? A campaign to #saveDelicious sprang up immediately and already there has been a petition to open-source it; a suggestion of a crowdsourced buy-out and even some calls for the library of Congress to archive it. So what is all the fuss about?…”

3. Net Traffic, Display Realtime Internet Speed http://www.ghacks.net/2010/12/20/net-traffic-display-realtime-internet-speed/ What’s the current speed of your Internet connection? You probably know the maximum download and upload speed but it is harder to tell how fast you are currently uploading or downloading to the Internet. Unless of course, you are using a program like a speed test to show you exactly how fast it is. Then again, speed tests are flawed as well as they depend on a lot of factors. Net Traffic, a free portable application for Windows is a realtime Internet speed monitor that display the download and upload speed of a selected network adapter. Internet speed is not the best term, as it is quite possible to monitor traffic in a local network as well…”

4. Dropbox Hits 1.0, Adds Features http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/17/dropbox-hits-1-0-adds-features/ I’d like to extend hearty congratulations to the Dropbox team for doing what many web-based companies might avoid for years on end: putting out a 1.0 product. It’s a bit arbitrary, of course — this useful and popular service has been running great for quite a long time now, and the “beta” tag has always seemed mysterious to me. But they’ve done what they felt needed to be done to justify dropping it, and the improvements are substantial. The most important new feature is probably the selective syncing: you can now select which computers sync with which folders, so you don’t need to worry about your off-site HD footage backup saturating the shabby wi-fi at a coffee shop. I think this makes it into a much more versatile tool, and I plan to use it more extensively now that I don’t have to worry about my PC desktop contaminating my Mac laptop with uselessly synced OS-specific junk, and vice versa…”

5. Facebook Ramps Up Big E-Commerce Drive http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/dec2010/tc20101217_877527.htm Facebook is ramping up efforts to entice companies such as Delta Air Lines (DAL) and J.C. Penney (JCP) to sell wares on its pages and convert more of its 500 million users into online shoppers. Managers at the Palo Alto (Calif.)-based social network have met in the past month with more than 20 companies, said David Fisch, who runs a newly formed commerce partnerships group at Facebook. The aim is to help retailers set up shop on its pages and build tools that let Web users interact while buying. Facebook is adding e-commerce features to attract users, keep them logged-on longer, and generate higher advertising sales. The effort may turn the company into an online shopping alternative to retailers such as eBay (EBAY), says Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research (FORR). "It's not natural to go to Facebook to shop—yet," says Mulpuru, whose firm is based in Cambridge, Mass. "But it's not a long step…”

6. The most reliable (and unreliable) blogging services on the Web http://royal.pingdom.com/2010/12/17/the-most-reliable-and-unreliable-blogging-services-2/ Blogging services have been around for a long time, with pioneers like Blogger paving the way for WordPress.com and more recent arrivals like Tumblr and Posterous. There are millions upon millions of blogs out there, many of them residing on these services…We included Blogger, WordPress.com, Typepad, Tumblr and Posterous in this survey. There are of course other services out there as well, but we chose to focus on these since it’s quite likely that if you’re currently on a blogging service, you’re on one of these five. For each blogging service, we monitored the uptime of the homepage and four individual blogs, so we could see how the service as a whole performed. For the details, check out our “Methodology” section at the bottom of this post. The reliability winner(s). The winner was without a doubt Google’s Blogger. The Blogger blogs didn’t have any downtime whatsoever during the two months we monitored them, followed by WordPress.com which had very little downtime. Typepad deserves an honorable mention here as well. Posterous had somewhat mixed results, but overall receives a passing grade. Tumblr was the only service in the test that truly failed…”

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

7. Conspiracy Theory time: former contractor says FBI put back door in OpenBSD http://www.osnews.com/story/24136/_FBI_Added_Secret_Backdoors_to_OpenBSD_IPSEC_ “…OpenBSD's Theo de Raadt has received an email in which it was revealed to him that ten years ago, the FBI paid several open source developers to implement hidden backdoors in OpenBSD's IPSEC stack. De Raadt decided to publish the email for all to see, so that the code in question can be reviewed…De Raadt received the email from Gregory Perry…Perry did some consulting work for the FBI's GSA Technical Support Center…My NDA with the FBI has recently expired, and I wanted to make you aware of the fact that the FBI implemented a number of backdoors and side channel key leaking mechanisms into the OCF, for the express purpose of monitoring the site to site VPN encryption system implemented by EOUSA, the parent organization to the FBI," Perry details in the email…This is also why several inside FBI folks have been recently advocating the use of OpenBSD for VPN and firewalling implementations in virtualized environments," he adds…the code has gone through several revisions…but still, De Raadt wants it analysed…I am making it public so that (a) those who use the code can audit it for these problems, (b) those that are angry at the story can take other actions, (c) if it is not true, those who are being accused can defend themselves…” [two interesting questions about this: 1.) Can the open source/BSD people figure out if there’s a backdoor in OpenBSD, and, 2.) If they can find a backdoor now, why didn’t someone see it earlier – ed.]

8. Looking for facts: The Internet Goes to War? http://asert.arbornetworks.com/2010/12/the-internet-goes-to-war/ “…the above headlines refer to the rash of DDoS attacks both against the Wikileaks web site and the retaliatory strikes against hosting and commercial institutions that severed ties with the organization…are we now in a permanent state of cyber-war?...I’ll compare the Wikileaks and retaliatory DDoS attacks to historical baselines of attack activity and discuss broader DDoS trends…getting accurate data about Internet attacks can be a challenge…In one instance, two engineers at the same ISP debated the largest observed botnet attacking their company — one estimated the size at a few thousand hosts while the other at millions…when pressed on the source of their data, both of these engineers readily admitted they were really just guessing…This blog post provides a first look at quantitative measurements of over 5,000 confirmed (via operator classification or mitigation status) attacks over the last year across 37 large carriers and content providers around the world…in 2010, we observed a number of DDoS attacks in the 50+ Gbps range. These large flooding attacks often exceed the inbound aggregate bandwidth capacity of data centers and carrier backbone links (often OC192 / 10 Gbps)…carriers generally need specialized, high speed mitigation infrastructure and sometimes the cooperation of other providers to block the attack traffic…hard to imagine that 400 Mbps was an impressive attack back in 2002…service or application level attacks may focus on a series of web or API calls that force an expensive database transaction or calls to slow storage servers. The attackers then use botnets to inundate the web service with thousands of clients issuing a steady stream of these particularly expensive web / API calls. Other application attacks attempt to overwhelm SIP, HTTP or TCP state…Unlike massive DDoS traffic floods, application attacks can be far more subtle…if we’re in a Cyber-War, then very large (50+ Gbps) traffic floods and sophisticated application attacks are the front-lines…the question of Wikileaks and the retaliatory hactivist attacks. Were these attacks massive high-end flooding DDoS or very sophisticated application level attacks? Neither…most of the attacks over the last week were both relatively small and unsophisticated…the attacks were unremarkable…The DDoS traffic (in red) never grew beyond 3-4 Gbps…more of an annoyance than an imminent critical infrastructure threat…By the end of the week, Anonymous followers had mostly abandoned their attack plans as ineffective…Most volunteers clearly did not realize the tools do not anonymize their PC source IP address…In the specific case of the Wikileaks retaliatory attacks, we believe most of the traffic did not spoof and used the actual sources IPs…”

9. Appeals court: warrant required before Feds can read e-mail http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/12/breaking-news-eff-victory-appeals-court-holds In a landmark decision issued today in the criminal appeal of U.S. v. Warshak, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the government must have a search warrant before it can secretly seize and search emails stored by email service providers…As the Court held today, Given the fundamental similarities between email and traditional forms of communication [like postal mail and telephone calls], it would defy common sense to afford emails lesser Fourth Amendment protection....[T]he police may not storm the post office and intercept a letter, and they are likewise forbidden from using the phone system to make a clandestine recording of a telephone call--unless they get a warrant, that is. It only stands to reason that, if government agents compel an ISP to surrender the contents of a subscriber's emails, those agents have thereby conducted a Fourth Amendment search, which necessitates compliance with the warrant requirement…Today's decision is the only federal appellate decision currently on the books that squarely rules on this critically important privacy issue, an issue made all the more important by the fact that current federal law--in particular, the Stored Communications Act--allows the government to secretly obtain emails without a warrant in many situations…”

10. MSE 2.0 arrives with heuristic scanning, network traffic inspection http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2010/12/mse-20-arrives-with-heuristic-scanning-network-traffic-inspection.ars Following a four-month beta program, Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) 2.0 has been released. The new version significantly revamps the heuristic scanning engine, adds Windows Firewall integration as well as network traffic inspection. The update unquestionably makes MSE, which has already become very popular due to its quiet but effective ways, even more of a must-have for Windows users. MSE has always been very good at finding and removing malware, but it has relied mainly on antimalware definitions. The improved heuristic engine makes it even better at detecting threats; at the same time, we expect the number of false positives to slightly increase as well. The new Windows Firewall integration is a minor improvement: it lets you tweak Microsoft's firewall from inside MSE…”

11. Top 5 Security Threats in HTML5 http://www.esecurityplanet.com/features/article.php/3916381/Top-5-Security-Threats-in-HTML5.htm Somehow technology seems to evolve at a rapid pace, even when the standards bodies that help define it do not. Consider that most of today's websites are built on HTML4, a standard that was introduced in 1997. In the thirteen years since, the way we use the Web has changed dramatically, even if the underlying standard has not. To bridge the gap, Web developers have adopted and embraced a variety of additional technologies, everything from using client-side JavaScript to build needed features, relying on server-side scripts to process data in ways the browser could not, and using third-party plug-ins, such as Flash, to extend the browser even further. All of these developments reflect the shift from browser as document delivery platform to browser as Web application platform. Now, with the nearly-complete standard for HTML5 being implemented (at least in part) in the latest or beta versions of all the major browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera, many of the advanced Web app features developers need will be available in native HTML. But with any major introduction of new features, HTML5 also brings with it potential security vulnerabilities – which is not to say that HTML5 is "flawed," but that, invariably, there will be new attack vectors for hackers to exploit. Some originate from elements of the standard itself, some from implementations of the standard in each browser, and some from the care that developers do (or do not) take in building their HTML5 code…”

12. Tracking Trick Shows the Web Where You Are http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/26914/ “…Using nothing more than the unique number assigned to every Internet connection, websites could determine whether you're logging on at home, at work, or a travel location like an airport or hotel, researchers at Microsoft have shown. They say the technique could target advertisements more precisely—or improve the security of Web services by identifying users as legitimate according to their location. Websites commonly use the numbers known as Internet protocol (IP) addresses to approximate the physical location of visitors (visit this site to see the location guessed from your IP address). The method, which is typically accurate to the level of a city, lets advertisers target people with local deals. Until now, though, IP addresses have not been used to determine what kind of place the person is connecting from. Researchers at Microsoft Research Silicon Valley used a data set of IP addresses collected from logs of updates to an unnamed widely used software package and from log-ins to an unnamed popular webmail service. Tracking user locations by IP address could help advertisers sidestep suggested features of the "do not track" option that Congress is considering as a way to let people opt out of tracking by advertisers…”

Mobile Computing & Communicating

13. Google Blog Post Protests Carriers' Android Lockdowns http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2010/12/its-not-rooting-its-openness.html “…The Nexus S, like the Nexus One before it, is designed to allow enthusiasts to install custom operating systems. Allowing your own boot image on a pure Nexus S is as simple as running fastboot oem unlock. It should be no surprise that modifying the operating system can give you root access to your phone…Legitimately gaining root access to your device is a far cry from most rooting exploits. Traditional rooting attacks are typically performed by exploiting an unpatched security hole on the device. Rooting is not a feature of a device; rather, it is the active exploitation of a known security hole. Android has a strong security strategy, backed by a solid implementation…all Android applications are sandboxed from each other, helping to ensure that a malicious or buggy application cannot interfere with another. All applications are required to declare the permissions they use, ensuring the user is in control of the information they share…Unfortunately, until carriers and manufacturers provide an easy method to legitimately unlock devices, there will be a natural tension between the rooting and security communities. We can only hope that carriers and manufacturers will recognize this, and not force users to choose between device openness and security. It’s possible to design unlocking techniques that protect the integrity of the mobile network, the rights of content providers, and the rights of application developers…”

14. Airport Apps Put You First in Line http://travel.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/travel/19prac-travelapps.html “…Holiday travel is brutal. Security lines are longer. Planes are more crowded. The battle for storage space heats up as travelers vie to stuff all those gift-laden bags in overhead bins. And if bad weather hits, your delayed or canceled flight may make you tardy for Christmas or New Year’s dinner — that is, if you even make it out of the airport. This year, the experience may be even more intense. Over the holidays, 43.6 million passengers are expected to travel on United States carriers, up about 3 percent from last year, according to the Air Transport Association of America, the industry trade group. Still, holiday travel doesn’t have to be totally miserable. While the usual groundwork — showing up early with boarding passes in hand and packing as lightly as possible — still applies, an array of travel applications for smartphones can help you tackle just about any problem that might arise at or on your way to the airport. So before you leave home this year, take a moment to download a few of these to help you navigate the holiday crush…”

15. 50 Android Apps for the Mobile Knowledge Worker http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/mowi/article.php/3917851/50-Android-Apps-for-the-Mobile-Knowledge-Worker.htm Android apps can make all the difference for today knowledge worker. Today's staffer can be at the office one day, at a conference the next and working from a remote office the day after that. The right Android apps can help, even if you're just taking work from your desk to the conference room and back. Your Android phone can be an invaluable tool that helps you manage your news feeds, monitor the weather, find the sport scores, track finances and monitor appointments. Here's a list of 50 of the best Android apps for tracking, managing and updating your information…”

Open Source

16. Humble Indie Bundle #2 Just Made One Million Bucks http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=ODkzNg “…the Humble Indie Bundle #2…crossed the million dollar USD mark. There's still about two days and eighteen hours left for this seven day event where you can pay whatever you want (literally) for a collection of five indie games: Braid, Cortex Command, Machinarium, Osmos, and Revenge of the Titans. The Humble Indie Bundle #2 is following in the steps of the original bundle that also earned more than a million dollars for its developers and charity combined…The $1,000,000 in sales for the second bundle are from over 131,000 sales…The Linux user is paying nearly $14 for the bundle while Windows users are paying the least at about six and a half dollars and the Mac OS X gamers are paying about two dollars more than the Microsoft gamers…”

17. Tiny Core Linux 3.4 arrives http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/Tiny-Core-Linux-3-4-arrives-1156392.html Tiny Core lead developer Robert Shingledecker has released version 3.4 of Tiny Core Linux. Based on the Linux kernel, Tiny Core Linux 3.4 features a variety of updates, including additional options in the mount tool (mnttool). Other changes include improvements to AppsAudit, adding new multi-select extension updates and MD5 checking, as well as new wallpaper gradients and an updated colour preview. The Fluff file manager has also been updated to version 0.8.5, which includes integrated file type and associations, as well as several user interface (UI) improvements. Tiny Core is a minimal Linux distribution that weighs in at just over 10 MB in size. The "tiny frugal" desktop distribution features the BusyBox tool collection and a minimal graphics system based on Tiny X and JWM. The core can run entirely in RAM, allowing a very fast boot. With the help of online repositories, Tiny Core Linux can be expanded to include additional applications…”

18. Android will be using ext4 starting with Gingerbread http://ldn.linuxfoundation.org/blog-entry/android-will-be-using-ext4-starting-with-gingerbreadThere are two popular technologies for running remote graphical desktops: Virtual Network Computing (VNC) and Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). VNC uses the Remote FrameBuffer (RFB) protocol. It's platform-independent and there are open source server and client applications for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. The RDP was developed by Microsoft and is the only remote desktop protocol used by default in Windows. At first glance, using VNC due to its open source benefits, platform-independence, and feature advantages might seem the best. However, RDP might be the best solution, even on Linux machines, if your organization is primarily a Microsoft shop. Installing an RDP server or client on a handful of Linux machines is likely easier than deploying VNC servers and clients on your entire Windows fleet. In this tutorial, we'll see how to get RDP support in Linux. We'll install a RDP server so Windows users can use the native Remote Desktop Connection client to remotely connect. Then we'll install an RDP client so Linux users can remotely connect to Windows, or other Linux machines...”

19. Setting Up Remote Graphical Desktops on Linux http://www.linuxplanet.com/linuxplanet/tutorials/7249/1/ There are two popular technologies for running remote graphical desktops: Virtual Network Computing (VNC) and Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). VNC uses the Remote FrameBuffer (RFB) protocol. It's platform-independent and there are open source server and client applications for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. The RDP was developed by Microsoft and is the only remote desktop protocol used by default in Windows. At first glance, using VNC due to its open source benefits, platform-independence, and feature advantages might seem the best. However, RDP might be the best solution, even on Linux machines, if your organization is primarily a Microsoft shop. Installing an RDP server or client on a handful of Linux machines is likely easier than deploying VNC servers and clients on your entire Windows fleet. In this tutorial, we'll see how to get RDP support in Linux. We'll install a RDP server so Windows users can use the native Remote Desktop Connection client to remotely connect. Then we'll install an RDP client so Linux users can remotely connect to Windows, or other Linux machines…”


20. Gmail Users to Get Free Phone Calls Through 2011 http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9201839/Google_extends_free_phone_call_offer_for_U.S._Gmail_users “…When Google announced the ability to make phone calls from Gmail in August its plan was to offer free calls to the U.S. and Canada until the end of this year. But now users will be able to make free calls to those destinations for all of 2011, Google said…Google can afford to offer free calls to fixed and mobile phones in an effort to attract more users because it isn't as dependent on making money from the calls as Skype…If Google one day decides to start charging…its continued popularity will be decided by factors like quality, ease-of-use and how well integrated it has become in the way people communicate…The voice services Google is offering now are only the beginning: network operators should start to get really nervous when Google introduces an easy-to-use service that is tightly integrated with its Android smartphone and tablet operating system…There is already anecdotal evidence that business travelers are using Skype on their smartphones to make phone calls while abroad, threatening operators' still-lucrative roaming business…”

21. Google Android 3.0 Honeycomb Motorola Tablet for CES http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Desktops-and-Notebooks/Motorola-Teases-Android-30-Honeycomb-Tablet-for-CES-529991/ Motorola has released a brief video on YouTube teasing the introduction, at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, of a tablet computer based on Google's Android Honeycomb operating system. The clip, titled "Tablet Evolution" and set in a museum, is a 1:36-minute history lesson of actual stone tablets, beginning with an Egyptian hieroglyphic tablet dated 3,200 B.C. and moving on to the Ten Commandments and Rosetta Stone…Motorola calls Apple's iPad a "giant iPhone" (iOS powers both devices) and notes that Samsung's Galaxy Tab is Android OS "for a phone." The Tab is based on Android 2.2, which Google executives have acknowledged is not optimized for tablets. Even so, the Tab has sold more than 1 million units this year. Motorola concludes its clip by having a honeybee buzz over a hooded display marked with the Motorola logo, hinting at the tablet…it will release both a 7-inch and 10-inch tablet based on Android…Honeycomb tablets and the iPad 2 should set the stage for interesting rivalry in 2011…”

22. Tech firms set up shop at Google Ventures’ Startup Lab http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Tech+firms+shop+Google+Ventures+Startup/3981371/story.html A small team has toiled away since early October in a quiet corner of Google Inc’s GOOG.O sprawling campus in Mountain View, CA on a project related to the discovery of human antibodies. The group is not part of Google, and has nothing to do with Google’s flagship Internet search business. But Google has provided the team - part of the secretive New Hampshire-based biotech company Adimab - with a workspace fitted with top-notch amenities, including high-speed Internet access, conference rooms, even - ping-pong table. Adimab and four other companies are among the first tenants of the new Startup Lab managed by Google’s venture capital arm. The lab represents the latest expansion of Google Ventures, the search engine’s $100-million-a-year fund which launched in March 2009, providing Google with an opportunity to chase the big financial payoffs that can come with venture investing while helping it build ties to the fast-paced world of start-ups…”

23. Wave Technology Lives On In Google's New Shared Spaces http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/wave_technology_lives_on_in_googles_new_shared_spa.php “…Google has quietly launched a new Labs project today - Google Shared Spaces. Based on Google Wave gadgets technology, Shared Spaces is designed to be an easy way to create and share collaborative applications. As Shared Spaces uses Wave technology, there are already 50 different gadgets available, including shared maps, scheduling tools, polls, Sudoku games, and drawing boards. Our latest report, Engaging Online Communities, takes a look at how the modern enterprise must set up the right social media monitoring systems, keep track of the social gestures that people make and intelligently analyze data about their communities. Shared Spaces seems to be a fairly easy way to quickly share a workspace with a friend or colleague. You simply share the space's URL to invite others to join. There's a chat box for real-time communication, but it appears that the work space persists, meaning you can use it for longer-term work as well…”

General Technology

24. The Brainy Learning Algorithms of Numenta http://www.technologyreview.com/business/26811/ Jeff Hawkins has a track record at predicting the future. The founder of Palm and inventor of the PalmPilot, he spent the 1990s talking of a coming world in which we would all carry powerful computers in our pockets. "No one believed in it back then—people thought I was crazy…At his current firm, Numenta, Hawkins is working on another idea that seems to out of left field: copying the workings of our own brains to build software that makes accurate snap decisions for today's data-deluged businesses. He and his team have been working on their algorithms since 2005 and are finally preparing to release a version that is ready to be used in products…Some companies are already putting Numenta's latest approach to the test. Sm4rt Security Services, a computer security firm based in Mexico City, is one of them. "We were hired by one of the world's top banks to prove this new technology was able to prevent card fraud," says CEO Victor Chapela. "In just three months we've managed to match the accuracy of the existing systems, which have been developed over 25 years." The bank will deploy a Numenta-based fraud checker alongside its existing measures sometime next year, he says. The bank suffers more than $100 million of fraud every year, he says, "so anything that can cut even a fraction of that has a very quick payback." Numenta's technology is attractive to banks because its ability to learn from previous data sidesteps a crucial limit on fraud prevention technology. A bank's computer system has just 10 milliseconds to decide whether to authorize a transaction, says Chapela: "There's simply no time to search a person's past transactions…”

25. Secure Flash Drives Lock Down Your Data http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/213323/secure_flash_drives_lock_down_your_data.html Hollywood makes secure flash storage look easy. If the bad guy steals a thumb drive, it either blows up or some secret counterintelligence agency marshals the nation's resources in a no-holds-barred data hunt--most likely with Bruce Willis or Tommy Lee Jones working the streets. If the good guy steals the drive, it goes to a special-needs, special-deeds sidekick in a basement somewhere who cracks the code in 5 minutes…Secure flash drives give security-conscious users a great way to transport sensitive information. And you can work directly off of such drives so that their top-secret data never resides in another location--except on a secure online backup service, of course. The three basic approaches to securing data on a flash drive involve using software, hardware, or a combination of both…”

26. Best Buy Kills Return Fees Amid Poor Sales http://www.pcworld.com/article/214218/best_buy_kills_return_fees_amid_poor_sales.html “…Best Buy had previously charged a 15 percent restocking fee for notebook computers, projectors, camcorders, digital cameras, radar detectors, GPS devices and in-car video systems. A 10 percent restocking fee applied in most cases for Apple's iPhone, but no longer. A 25 percent restocking fee still applies for special order products. "Best Buy continually listens to our customers," the retailer said in a statement, "and they told us they want to give confidently this holiday season and every other day of the year -- and with that comes easier returns." According to Snopes.com, the 15 percent restocking fee had been dinging Best Buy's reputation since April 2008, when a chain letter ranting about the policy began to circulate. The fee was likely in place to discourage free "rentals" of expensive tech products and after-purchase price comparisons. But last quarter, Best Buy posted lower earnings than expected as sales slumped in its U.S. stores. Competition from online retailers such as Amazon and other stores like Wal-Mart and Target cut into Best Buy's market share as they filled the void left by Circuit City. Best Buy's return period is 14 days for computers, monitors, projectors, camcorders, digital cameras, tablets and radar detectors; and 30 days for everything else. Wireless carrier charges may still apply for mobile phones, and some items, such as software, movies, music and video games can only be returned for the same item…”

27. Quantum Dot Displays Start to Shine http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/26831/ Few display technologies rival the visual brilliance and energy-saving potential of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). Yet OLED displays are mostly found in smaller applications like mobile phones. The manufacturing technology for OLEDs has struggled to scale up for mass producing computer monitors or televisions…QD Vision, an MIT spinoff, has announced a display technology based on quantum dots that could not only be easier to manufacture than OLEDs, but also be even brighter and more energy-efficient…the Massachusetts company announced a partnership with major manufacturer LG Display to develop displays that use quantum-dot light-emitting diodes (QLEDs) as their pixels. In early November, QD Vision also partnered with Solvay, a Belgium-based chemical company, to build a platform for printing QLEDs. Quantum dots are nanometer-sized sem iconducting crystals that can shine a bright, spectrally pure color when exposed to either light (photoluminescence) or electrical current (electroluminescence). QD Vision's first product, a quantum dot optic that warms the normally harsh glow produced by LED lamps, relies on photoluminescence; the quantum dots emit color when light from the LEDs excites them…”

DHMN Technology

28. 3D printer 'like Star Trek replicator' http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/printer+like+Star+Trek+replicator/4001652/story.html “…With a special 3D printer at his disposal, Helmut Kungl, chief executive of Ottawa's XYZ-RGB Inc., was able to prototype, refine, patent and create working versions of an innovative sleeve for an iPhone 4 without ever leaving the office…3D printing offers a glimpse into the future of manufacturing — something that will change everything from medicine to how we make automobiles…Printing times vary, but, in Kungl's case, one of his iPhone accessories takes as long as three hours to complete…One company that is taking full advantage of 3D printers is Manitoba's Kor Ecologic. The company has designed a new gas/electric hybrid vehicle called the Urbee, the car's body (glass panels included) were made using a 3D printing technology called Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)…Organovo, a company from San Diego, California, is using it to build human tissue and organs that can be used to help save a person's life when donor organs or tissue cannot be found. Earlier this month, the company announced it had used a variation of a 3D printer, called the NovoGen MMX Bioprinter, to print blood vessels…Even in the home, 3D printing is making inroads. Manufacturers are pushing to get 3D printers into the hands of average consumers in hopes they will spark a boom in desktop manufacturing…While prices for industrial 3D printers range from $50,000 to well over $200,000, models geared to consumers are already available starting at around $500. The idea of being able to manufacture his own replacement parts for camera gear is what sparked Ottawa's Kungl to spend around $50,000 on a 3D printer about a year ago. Kungl's company, XYZ-RGB, is in the business of capturing and processing 3D images. The company's 3D image files have been used in movies such as G.I. Joe, Public Enemies, Lord of the Rings and King Kong…He stumbled upon the design for the iPhone sleeve while trying to figure out a way to use the camera in the iPhone 4 to capture 3D photos. Kungl's iPhone sleeve, which is already in demand at retailers, has been designed to incorporate a mount for a tripod, so that iPhone owners can take pictures and video with no need to hold the device…he created a bumper case for the iPhone 4 that incorporates a slot to allow for the tripod mount…then used the company's 3D printer to make the case. As soon as his staff members saw it, they all wanted one of their own. "The guys started asking for it. Then they showed a friend and they showed some friends. I have run out of materials," he said, adding that he has already sold more than 150 of the cases at a price of $23 each…” [this story is a perfect example of why DHMN, the FVTC Fab Lab and EAA need to have and encourage high utilization and creative innovation with both low-end ($1000) and mid-range ($5000 - $10,000) 3D printers and 3D scanners – ed.]

29. Blending Art With Facial Recognition Technology http://www.psfk.com/2010/11/blending-art-with-facial-recognition-technology.html “…Hit Counter is an interactive artwork that uses facial recognition software to count and display the number of visitors who have viewed it. Made by New York-based designer Zach Gage, the art is in the form of a birch box which houses a stat counter and a camera eye. Gage’s work is being displayed as part of the ongoing ‘Pixel Pushers’ exhibition at the Scion Installation, Los Angeles. In the early days of the Internet, popularity was generally attributed to websites. Site usage was illustrated via “hit counters” at the bottom of each page. With the rise of social media and the self-made user, popularity is now attributed to individuals. Popularity is commonly conveyed with follower counters, friend counters or view counters. Despite the problems that popularity has led to in the physical world, we have opted to translate this metric into the digital/virtual space. Hit Counter re-translates this metric back into the physical space. With no other means to judge it, Hit Counter demands to be assigned a worth based solely on its popularity. Hit Counter software makes extensive use of OpenFrameworks, openCV for facial recognition…”

30. 3D Hologram Prints Invade Military, Commercial Design http://singularityhub.com/2010/12/16/3d-hologram-prints-invade-military-commercial-design-videos/ Many technologies claim to be holograms, but there’s really only one that truly deserves the name. If you have to wear special glasses, it’s not a real hologram. For decades, scientists have been able to use lasers to record three dimensional images on a flat surface, but these images have been very simple and were often difficult to view without more laser light. Now, a new generation of hologram companies are making 3D holograms that are photo realistic and can be viewed under simple LED and halogen bulbs. Zebra Imaging, based in Austin, Texas, is one of these new kind of hologram companies, and they’ve sold tens of thousands of custom-made digital prints, many to the US military for mission planing and bomb analysis. Watch their holographic prints on display in the videos below, along with a brief look at their new motion display technology, which is like a 3D computer screen. There’s nothing quite as cool as a real hologram. In the past few years, researchers in holography have been able to streamline and modernize the holographic printing process so that they can take CAD drawings or real world images and convert them into a hologram quickly…”

31. Neuroscientists create the first brain-controlled exoskeleton http://io9.com/5713568/neuroscientists-create-the-first-brain+controlled-exoskeleton We've had brain-computer interfaces for years now, as well as mind-controlled prosthetic limbs. Now neuroscientists have taken it to the next level, with a system that would allow you to control a super-powered exoskeleton using only your thoughts…We've known for a while that thinking about moving activates the same areas of the brain as moving itself does - so monkeys (and humans) learn to do this by imagining that they're moving left, right, up or down. But the researchers discovered that the monkeys learned much faster if their arms were moved at the same time the cursor did - basically, they got feedback via movement in their bodies as well as from looking at the monitor…Each monkey was first trained to control a cursor using brain signals only; electrodes collected and processed data from the monkeys' motor cortex cells and transmitted those commands to the computer. Basic science research has shown that simply thinking about a motion activates brain cells in the same way that making the movement does, so each monkey needed to only think about moving a cursor to do it…”

Leisure & Entertainment

32. Xbox Kinect vs Nintendo Wii http://news.yahoo.com/s/nf/20101218/bs_nf/76563 Three years ago, my kids were dragging me to every Game Stop, RadioShack and Toys R Us within a 20-mile radius looking for a Nintendo Wii video-game console, the hottest ticket of the holiday season. We never found one…but my oldest son, Zachary, was lucky enough to get one for his bar mitzvah. Over the months that followed, our family was leaping, swatting, punching and kicking our way around the basement engaged in virtual adventures and sports competitions, waving wireless controllers and nunchuks at the motion sensor. Good fun and good exercise…Within 18 months though, the Wii became lonely, collecting dust on the shelf above the TV with only an occasional reprieve from isolation when a new game arrived or certain of the kids' friends came over. Whether it's because Facebook is the only nonhuman commitment today's kids are willing to make, or perhaps because of some shortcoming of the Wii, it failed to pass the longevity test…When Microsoft launched the Kinect, its motion-sensing answer to the Wii, the tide turned in its favor. I suppressed concern that both platforms were future eBay fodder and bought the Xbox and Kinect bundle for $350…whereas the Wii allows online play with some games through WiiConnect24, Xbox Live opens an entire world of interaction with other gamers…Which system has the better quality graphics is a matter of taste. Zachary clearly favors the Xbox…But there is a world of difference between gaming with a controller in your hand and gaming with just your body. Kinect needs more room to work properly, at least six feet, and optimally nine, between players and controllers, as opposed to between three and eight feet for the Wii…I found the full-body motion sensing fun and didn't miss the worry that the Wii controller would slip out of someone's hand and fly across the room, causing injury or damage. There's also no sore or calloused thumbs after a vigorous game. What I did miss, though, was the sense of connection to the game through my hands. Like most game systems today, Wii actively engages three senses -- sight, sound and touch -- by delivering synchronized vibrations to the controller when you hit a tennis ball, clobber your boxing opponent…With Kinect, the sights and sound are there, but you are left to imagine virtual contact with objects like balls or bad guys as your hand waves through the air. When Kinect adds Star Wars games, it could be awkward to wave a pretend light saber in the air without some kind of attendant prop…the Xbox is the more advanced system that is sending Nintendo's engineers back to the drawing board, likely banking on 3D gaming as the next big advance…which games Microsoft releases for Kinect use in the coming months will have a lot to do with its ability to permanently steal Wii and PlayStation users…”

33. FCC ‘net neutrality’ plan feared stunting Internet TV services http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101221/wr_nm/us_fcc_internet_analysis Internet TV services planned by Microsoft, Google and Amazon could be held back by imminent rules that would allow phone and cable companies to charge consumers based on usage…The Web traffic rules, due to be voted on by the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday, could tip the economics away from consumers watching TV over Internet lines if they help cable companies charge more versus their own television offerings. Said one executive at a major US media company: "in the event a cable company feels threatened" by Internet TV services, "they could control offerings through pricing the usage…”

34. Apple owns 66% of online music market, Amazon second at 13% http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/12/apple-owns-66-of-online-music-market-amazon-second-at-13.ars Despite unrelenting competition from numerous online music vendors—particularly Amazon—iTunes has managed to actually increase its market share. The music service now makes up 66.2 percent of the online music market, according to new numbers from NPD, with Amazon coming in second with 13.3 percent for the third quarter of 2010. iTunes has managed to increase its share from 63.2 percent earlier this year, even as Amazon has made aggressive efforts to chip away at iTunes' customer base and artist exclusives. In fact, Amazon was so good at pushing its "Daily Deal" promotions (deeply discounted albums of hot bands) that Apple apparently felt threatened by it—an anonymous music industry exec said earlier this year that Apple was stepping up pressure on artists to avoid Amazon's music promotions, lest they lose their valuable marketing support from iTunes…”

35. AssaultCube – Realistic Fast-Paced Linux First-Person Shooter Game http://www.tuxarena.com/?p=87 AssaultCube is a first-person shooter game based on the Cube engine with support for online multiplayer and single player games, with a fast-pace gameplay and entertaining gaming modes. The latest version was released on November 14, 2010 and brings several bug fixes and tweaks. AssaultCube takes place on realistic maps and includes 12 multiplayer game modes, including the classic DM, TDM, CTF or Survival, 24 maps (and more available to download), 8 weapons to choose from and various pickup items. The game doesn’t offer a storyline (and I believe most multiplayer shooter don’t even need one), and it offers two different teams, the so-called Cubers Liberations Army (CLA) and the Rabid Viper Special Forces (RVSF)…”

Economy and Technology

36. Chile’s Grand Innovation Experiment http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/18/chile%E2%80%99s-grand-innovation-experiment/ “…It isn’t real estate, universities, or VCs that make innovation happen; it is entrepreneurs. To create a tech center like Silicon Valley, you need to first attract smart entrepreneurs from all over the world. Then you have to create entrepreneurial networks; instill a spirit of risk-taking and openness; and build mentoring systems. You also need to provide seed financing to startups. The money is easy; everything else requires a change in culture that usually takes decades…Chile is trying a radical new experiment…to short-circuit this process. It is importing entrepreneurs from all over the world, by offering them $40,000 to bootstrap in Chile. They get a visa; free office space; assistance with networking, mentoring, fundraising, and connecting to potential customers and partners. All the entrepreneurs have to do, in return, is commit to working hard and live in one of the most beautiful places on this planet…Start-Up Chile, is still in the pilot stage. Chile has selected 25 teams to receive grants. Seventeen of these teams have already moved to Chile’s capital city, Santiago. The program will be officially launched on January 13, 2011. It will then be opened to the next batch of 100 startups. Chile expects to “import” around 1000 startup teams over the next three years…Chile has a chance to become the first region in the world that will build a tech center out of nothing at all. And it will achieve this feat for a much smaller investment than other regions have made in efforts that failed. All of the teams that I met raved about the opportunities they had gained by being in Chile. They told me they have gained valuable time to perfect their technologies before having to raise capital from Angels or VCs; that they’d found Santiago to be a really cheap place to live; and that they benefit by being able to network with each other, are appreciative of the support that the Chilean government is providing by connecting them to local businesses and investors, and enjoy the high quality of life and wonderful scenery and climate. They also find the natives to be very friendly and eager to learn from them…”

37. iPod nano Watch Project Makes Kickstarter History http://mashable.com/2010/12/17/kickstarter-ipod-nano/ The iPod nano watch kit TikTok+LunaTik is now officially the most successful Kickstarter project of all time…The project reached its conclusion late Thursday evening, bringing in a staggering $941,648 from 13,511 backers in just 30 days. That figure is all the more impressive when you consider that TikTok+LunaTik’s original goal was only $15,000. The project itself was born after Scott Wilson, the founder of the Chicago-based design studio MINIMAL, first saw the new iPod nano. When we spoke to Wilson last month, he explained it was clear that the device could be a great wrist watch, after seeing the size and shape of the new nano…When the success of TikTok and LunaTik became clear, Wilson took measures to ramp up production at the factories in China. Through the course of the project, Wilson has offered up additional updates on the status of the kits, created a website for interested users who missed out on the Kickstarter pledge bonanza at Lunatik.com and promoted other worthy Kickstarter projects…”

38. Online ad sales eclipse newspaper advertising in 2010 http://venturebeat.com/2010/12/19/online-ads-eclipse-newspapers-in-2010/ Online ads are expected to eclipse newspaper advertising for the first time…U.S. spending on online ads will hit $25.8 billion in 2010, compared with $22.8 billion spent on print ads in newspapers, the Wall Street Journal reported. This change has been a long time coming, since consumers have moved to the internet in large numbers and newspaper readers have stopped subscriptions as the papers get thinner and thinner. It reminds me of 2008, when I left the newspaper business after nearly 20 years to join VentureBeat. Back then, there was a lot of hand-wringing about the fate of newspapers. Times were heady for tech blogs and other online news sites. Then the recession hit and made everyone in the media gloomy. Ad spending in the U.S. is expected to rise 3 percent to $168.5 billion, eMarketer said. But spending on print ads in newspapers will decline 8.2 percent in 2010 and the forecast is for another decline of 6 percent for newspapers in 2011…”

Civilian Aerospace

39. Three Google Lunar X PRIZE Competitors Awarded NASA Contracts http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/featured-article/three-google-lunar-x-prize-competitors-awarded-nasa-contracts “…NASA announced that it purchased data related to innovative lunar missions from three private firms. All three contracts, valued at $500,000 each, were awarded to teams competing for the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE: Astrobotic Technology Inc of Pittsburgh, PA; Moon Express Inc. of Mountain View, CA; and the Rocket City Space Pioneers…of Hunstville, AL. The contracts mark the first of several through NASA’s $30 million Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data project…In exchange for these contracts, Astrobotic, Moon Express and the Rocket City Space Pioneers will demonstrate how they will address one of the top ten technical risk areas associated with a low-cost lunar surface mission. In the coming months, each group will take an unproven but critical technical component to a high degree of technical readiness, such that it could be considered ready for spaceflight. NASA and the teams both are likely to benefit greatly from this process. Additionally, these contracts demonstrate a critical difference between the first era of lunar exploration and ‘Moon 2.0,’ a new era that is just beginning…” [woo-hoo! Moon 2.0!! – ed.]

40. Using a new spacesuit: first UND, then Mars http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/187407/ The Mars spacesuit designed by UND is going to Antarctica for testing because Antarctica is a lot like Mars. But first, they’re testing it at UND because North Dakota is a lot like Antarctica at this time of year. If you were at the corner of 42nd Avenue South and University Way at about noon Friday, you might have caught an odd glimpse: A spaceman with a backpack drill making holes in the lawn at Clifford Hall. That was Pablo De Leon, an aerospace engineer with UND’s Space Suit Laboratory. NASA is planning to send his team to Antarctica to do some more drilling. The research topic is something like a bad joke: How many astronauts does it take to drill a hole in the ground? How long does it take? The answer so far seems to be at least two and a little longer than you’d think…”

41. Businesses pitch their space plane proposals http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20101218/NEWS02/12180319/1006/NEWS01/Businesses+pitch+their+space+plane+proposals “…Companies this week submitted proposals seeking a share of the roughly $200 million NASA plans to spend during the next year to develop their vehicles. NASA's eventual choice of two or three commercial providers of crew taxi services to the International Space Station likely will be taken from that group. "They want to create a field of potential candidates who could deliver a vehicle," said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of Sierra Nevada Corp.'s Space Systems group, one of the contenders. "I would imagine that anybody who thinks they could do it would have responded." NASA won't disclose the number or identity of companies that submitted proposals under the second round of its Commercial Crew Development program, or "CCDev," but several have announced their plans publicly…”

Supercomputing & GPUs

42. Fine tuning virtual colonoscopy with GPUs http://blogs.msdn.com/b/healthblog/archive/2010/11/29/fine-tuning-virtual-colonoscopy-a-faster-better-less-expensive-screening-test-for-colon-cancer.aspx “…drinking a gallon or so of go-litely bowel prep and then waiting for your gut to evacuate has never been high on this doctor’s list of favorite things to do. For that reason alone, many people avoid having a screening colonoscopy even though it is a test that can save lives by detecting cancer early. Avoiding the nasty prep and the invasive (some would say embarrassing) test are reasons why many people are attracted to an alternate test called “virtual” screening colonoscopy. In this test, a CT scanner replaces the colonoscope, but unfortunately the gut-cleaning prep is still required. ..clinicians at the Massachusetts General Hospital are testing a concept that could make virtual colonoscopy faster, less expensive and even easier for the patient. Using the magic of computers and software, it is possible to digitally remove the normal contents of the gut and make the inside of the gut appear just as if the patient had done the usual bowel evacuation prep. However, one issue with the virtual “cleaning” has been the amount of time needed to process the CT images…The time needed to run the necessary computer algorithms can take up to 60 minutes for each exam, far too long to be practical…Using Microsoft’s high performance computing (HPC) platform, Microsoft .Net 4.0, and the Intel Parallel Studio 2011 developer tool suite, researchers were able to reduce the time needed to run the algorithms from 60 minutes to just 3 minutes…The collaboration…uses a fully parallelized GPU-based volume rendering engine developed by Microsoft…demonstrates the capability to do high performance CPU and GPU-based computing with Windows HPC and .NET for colon cancer screening…”

43. Finding the needle in the haystack, instantly, with GPUs http://www.northeastern.edu/news/stories/2010/12/supercomputing.html “…A terrorist plants a time bomb along a gas line in a residential neighborhood. He e-mails a photo of the death trap to law enforcement officials, but no one can tell exactly where the bomb is located. The solution may lie in work being done in Northeastern University's Computer Architecture Research Laboratory, where electrical and computer engineering professor David Kaeli and his team have developed supercomputing hardware/software technology to pinpoint the location of people, buildings—or even bombs—10 to 15 times faster than traditional computing methods. Northeastern researchers are collaborating on the project with colleagues at the University of Virginia and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), a Sunnyvale, California-based company that develops computer processors for the commercial and consumer sectors. The innovative technology, which aligns with Northeastern’s commitment to research that solves global challenges in health, security and sustainability, showcases the value of using Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to help protect the nation’s critical infrastructure…”

44. Fundamental Shift Needed to Continue Rapid Advances in Computing http://www.hpcwire.com/offthewire/IT-Needs-Fundamental-Shift-to-Continue-Rapid-Advances-in-Computing-and-Help-Drive-US-Competitiveness-112080329.html The rapid advances in information technology that drive many sectors of the US economy could stall unless the nation aggressively pursues fundamental research and development of parallel computing -- hardware and software that enable multiple computing activities to process simultaneously, says a new report by the National Research Council. Better options for managing power consumption in computers will also be essential for continued improvements in IT performance. For many decades, advances in single-processor, sequential computer microprocessors have enabled computing performance to increase dramatically -- on the order of 10,000 times in the last 20 years alone. However, power management and other technological limitations have made it impractical to continue improving computer performance in this way much longer. Parallel computing, therefore, is the only known alternative for improving computer performance without significantly increasing costs and energy usage…”