Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Technical News - 31 August 2011

  • Gaddafi loyalists under fire as Libya celebrates
    August 31, 2011
    TRIPOLI/TAWARGA, Libya (Reuters) - Libyan forces backed by NATO bombers struck at loyalist troops dug in around Muammar Gaddafi's hometown on Wednesday, as refugees streamed out of the besieged bastion fearing a bloody showdown in the coming days.

  • U.S. files to block AT&T deal for T-Mobile USA
    August 31, 2011
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Wednesday filed to block AT&T's proposed $39 billion acquisition of wireless rival T-Mobile USA because of anti-competitive concerns.

  • Airlifts, water rescues in wake of Hurricane Irene
    August 31, 2011
    PATERSON, New Jersey (Reuters) - Emergency workers plucked dozens of residents from doorways and windows as Hurricane Irene's floodwaters rose on Tuesday, swallowing homes, submerging cars and turning the streets of this working class town into lakes.

  • Weekly Highlights #7 - Danielle Venton
    August 31, 2011
    Danielle Venton (@DanielleVenton on Twitter) came from the UC – Santa Cruz science writing program (after she worked at CERN for a few years) and has been writing a lot at Wired over the past few months. [More]

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  • Motorola deal offers Google tax, patent benefits
    August 31, 2011
    FAIRFIELD, Conn./CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Reuters) -- Google Inc's blockbuster acquisition of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc will bring an unusual stable of tax and accounting benefits to the search-engine giant, already one of Corporate America's most savvy users of such perks.

  • Motorola deal offers Google tax, patent benefits (Reuters)
    August 31, 2011
    Reuters - FAIRFIELD, Conn./CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Reuters) -- Google Inc's blockbuster acquisition of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc will bring an unusual stable of tax and accounting benefits to the search-engine giant, already one of Corporate America's most savvy users of such perks.
  • Justice Department Wants to Block AT&T, T-Mobile Merger
    August 31, 2011
    Critics have said the merger would reduce the number of nationwide mobile carriers from four to three and could lead to higher mobile service prices.

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  • Government sues to block AT&T, T-Mobile merger (AP)
    August 31, 2011
    AP - Justice Department officials say they've filed suit to block AT&T's $39 billion deal to buy T-Mobile USA.
  • U.S. files to block AT&T deal for T-Mobile
    August 31, 2011
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Wednesday filed to block AT&T's proposed acquisition of wireless rival T-Mobile USA because of anti-competitive concerns, two sources familiar with the matter said.

  • Sixteen Years Later: GNU Still Needs An Extension Language
    August 31, 2011
    Fresh from the 2011 GNU Hackers Meeting, Andy Wingo has written a long piece on the status of Guile Scheme, the woefully underutilized official user extension language of GNU. Wingo argues that Guile is the best choice for extension in GNU given the ability of Scheme to adapt to change over time. Presented with using e.g. Javascript instead of Scheme for its popularity: 'We should also consider the costs of using hastily designed languages. JavaScript has some crazy bad stuff, like with, var hoisting, a poor numeric model, dynamic this scoping, lack of modularity regarding binding lookup ... Finally, we have the lifespan issue. If GNU had chosen Tcl because it was popular, we would have a mass of dead code' (it should be noted that Guile does partially support Javascript syntax). With the proliferation of Firefox extensions, Greasemonkey, etc. it is clear there is a large set of power users who want to modify the programs they use without spending years becoming skilled programmers. Perhaps after Emacs has been ported to Guile the philosophy of user extensibility will spread to other parts of the GNU system.
    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



  • Taking cars off the road with our transportation programs
    August 31, 2011
    This is the third in a short series of posts and videos spotlighting our efforts to make Google greener. In this post, we give you a glimpse at how our transportation programs help Googlers get to work while leaving their cars at home. -Ed.

    Commuting to work without driving, meeting with someone on another continent without flying and riding cars without gasoline? It’s not a futuristic dream, but a way of life at Google. We support and encourage carbon-free commuting because it’s a vital part of our longstanding commitment to sustainability.

    We help take cars off of the road—not quite like the Hulk, but we are green. Back in 2004, one motivated Googler started a vanpool that ran from San Francisco to Mountain View as a 20 percent project. As demand grew, the program morphed into what is now one of the largest corporate shuttle services in the country. Today, up to a third of employees ride the GBus shuttles throughout our Bay Area offices five days a week—that’s more than 3,500 daily riders, or 7,000 one-way car trips avoided each day.



    Beyond the convenience and comfort that our shuttle rides offer—of which I’m reminded during my daily 35-mile commute from Alameda to Mountain View—they’re also environmentally friendly. Our shuttles have the cleanest diesel engines ever built and run on 5 percent bio-diesel, so they’re partly powered by renewable resources that help reduce our carbon footprint. In fact, we’re the first and largest company with a corporate transportation fleet using engines that meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 emission standards.

    Not only do we encourage self-powered commuting, we reward it. Googlers earn credits each time they get to work via alternative (non-engine) means—by bike, foot, skateboard or kayak. These credits are then translated into a dollar amount that gets donated—$100 for every 20 days of participation—to the Googler’s charity of choice. This year, 56 offices also participated in “Bike to Work Day,” with more than 2,500 Googlers who biked to work worldwide. The annual celebration is meant to reward daily cyclists as well as introduce many new riders to biking.

    The green life doesn’t stop once Googlers get to work. In Mountain View, our GBike system distributes about 1,000 bikes across the campus that Googlers can pick up whenever they have to get to another building. For longer distances and off-campus trips, we have the GFleet, our electric vehicle car share program, and our on-campus taxi service GRide. We're also installing hundreds of electric vehicle charging stations throughout several of our offices, making it easy for Googlers to charge up their own electric cars for free at work. If Googlers need to chat with their colleagues in other cities or continents they can use video conferencing technology, which cuts down on potential air travel.

    In total, the combination of the GFleet and our shuttles result in net annual savings of more than 5,400 metric tons of CO2. That's like taking over 2,000 cars off the road every day, or avoiding 14 million vehicle miles every year. With the help of Googlers, we’ll continue powering the wheels of sustainable transit innovation.


  • New blow for BP in Russia as office raided
    August 31, 2011
    MOSCOW (Reuters) - Black-clad special forces raided BP's Moscow offices on Wednesday, deepening the British company's problems in Russia after its attempts to salvage an oil exploration agreement in the Russian Arctic collapsed.

  • First Android 3.1 tablet, $700 HTC Jetstream, comes to AT&T next week
    August 31, 2011
    The first tablet to market running Android 3.1 will be the HTC Jetstream, HTC and AT&T announced today. Landing in stores next week, the 10-inch tablet will be able to use AT&T's 4G LTE network at launch, and while its specs are impressive, the form factor and price are less so.
    The Jetstream has a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 10-inch 1280x768 resolution screen, an 8-megapixel camera on the back, and a 1.3-megapixel camera on the front. The 32GB onboard storage can be supplemented by 32GB more via microSD, and the Android 3.1 Honeycomb operating system will be skinned with HTC's Sense.
    However, the body of the Jetstream is unimpressive-sounding: it measures over half an inch thick (0.51 inches, to be exact), and weighs 1.56 pounds, just an ounce less than the HP TouchPad and a few more than the iPad 2. No WiFi version of the tablet has been announced, so there's only the 4G LTE version, which is priced at $699.99 with a two-year contract.
    With the Jetstream, AT&T is introducing a new data plan for tablet customers with contracts. In addition to the $15/250MB and $25/2GB per month plans, customers will now have a $35/3GB per month option if they are on a contract—prepayers need not apply. Off contract, the 32GB Jetstream costs $849.99.
    The HTC Jetstream will be available to order online or purchase in stores starting September 4, and will be bundled with the HTC Scribe pen "for a limited time."
    Read the comments on this post



  • Future Nokia Symbian phones to all support NFC
    August 31, 2011
    The mobile phone maker is added NFC capability to its latest handsets and will include it on all future Symbian phones.
  • Sony's tablets may be a tough sell with price tag
    August 31, 2011
    NEW YORK/BERLIN (Reuters) - Sony Corp took the wraps off its long-awaited tablets on Wednesday with price tags that could hurt the company's chances to compete for the No. 2 spot in the tablet market.

  • DOJ Seeks To Block AT&T, T-Mobile Merger
    August 31, 2011

    The Justice Department has filed an antitrust lawsuit seeking to block AT&T’s $39 acquisition of T-Mobile USA, saying the deal would lessen competition in the wireless market.
    Filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the DOJ’s complaint says T-Mobile “places important competitive pressure on its three larger rivals” and argues its purchase by AT&T would be bad for consumers.
    “AT&T’s elimination of T-Mobile as an independent, low-priced rival would remove a significant competitive force from the market,” the Justice Department said in its suit. “Thus, unless this acquisition is enjoined, customers of mobile wireless telecommunications services likely will face higher prices, less product variety and innovation, and poorer quality services due to reduced incentives to invest than would exist absent the merger.” Further details to follow.

  • Can Our Pruney Fingers Help Us Build Better Rain Treads?
    August 31, 2011
    Car tires have rain treads. Shoes have rain treads. So, why don?t animals have rain treads? Here evolutionary neurobiologist Mark Changizi ? and author of the new book having nothing whatever to do with rain treads, Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man ? describes his and his students? new research suggesting that we do have rain treads. They are our pruney fingers. Better than what?s on our shoes and tires, they may allow us to build better treads in the future.

  • TouchPad Fire Sale Redux: What We Know So Far
    August 31, 2011
    HP says it will produce TouchPads during its fourth fiscal quarter, good news for deal-hunting TouchPad fans anxious to get their hands on the tablet before it leaves the market.

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  • LG Infinia 47LW6500 3D HDTV, $1279
    August 31, 2011
    Buy.com is selling off the 47-inch LG Infinia 3D HDTV for only $1279.

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  • U.S. Government Moves To Block AT&T/T-Mobile Merger
    August 31, 2011
    AT&T?s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA ran into a significant roadblock on Wednesday when the U.S. Justice Department said the deal would harm the competitiveness of the wireless industry.
  • Merkel backs euro fund boost despite revolt risk
    August 31, 2011
    BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet approved new powers for the euro zone's bailout fund on Wednesday, but she faces an uphill battle to convince party skeptics to back efforts to contain the crisis.

  • Web usage stats may be compromised by fake online IDs: report
    August 31, 2011
    New data on more than 104 million social media transactions collected the past three months reveals high levels of fraudulent accounts.
  • Justice Dept. to block AT&T's T-Mobile deal
    August 31, 2011
    The federal regulator says that the deal would hurt competition in the wireless business.
  • Panda Poo Yields Key To Cheaper Biofuels
    August 31, 2011
    An anonymous reader writes "A new study unveiled at the American Chemical Society points to panda poop as a source of remarkably efficient enzyme-producing bacteria that are able to break down plant materials for cheaper and more efficient biofuel production. Inspired by the giant panda's voracious appetite for bamboo, scientists began to study the fecal matter of giant pandas at the Memphis Zoo. A year of samples indicated that the pandas have a unique ability to convert lignocellulose from plant matter into energy. In fact, gut bacteria of a giant panda can convert 95 percent of the plant's biomass into simple sugars."
    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



  • U.S. Justice Dept. moves to block AT&T, T-Mobile merger
    August 31, 2011
    The U.S. government has officially filed suit to block AT&T's proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile.
  • Potential Buyers Sizing Up Kodak Patents
    August 31, 2011
    Are Kodak’s digital imaging patents truly worth more than the entirety of the company itself? We may soon find out.
    Kodak CEO Antonio Perez says that interest in that portion of its patent portfolio has been running high since the company began shopping it around earlier this summer and already a number of potential buyers are evaluating it. Reportedly among them: Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft.
    “At the moment we announced [the sale], the phone started to ring,” he told Bloomberg. “… This is the right time. The conversations are going. We are hoping quickly to get to a good conclusion.”
    Right time, indeed. Given the current bull market for patents, the 1,100 or so Kodak is shopping around could fetch as much as $3 billion, according to IP investment bank MDB Capital Group.That’s more than five times the struggling company’s market capitalization. “There are some pretty crucial patents here, and there are a lot of people who should be very interested in buying these,” said MDB Capital CEO Chris Marlett . “The auction for the sale of these patents is going to underscore that there’s a big disconnect between the value of the IP and the value of the stock.”

  • U.S. government files to block T-Mobile and AT&T merger
    August 31, 2011
    The AT&T and T-Mobile deal has caused quite a furor in the wireless space with Sprint concerned about the loss of a competitor and T-Mobile customers concerned about loss of excellent customer...
  • MTV's Social Greatness: The Snooki Bump And The VMA Blast-off
    August 31, 2011
    If you've been watching social media TV metrics in its infancy, you've probably noted that two networks are consistently near the top: MTV and FOX. Other networks certainly have their moments -- NBC, ABC Family, BET, Comedy Central and CNN often make respectable showings. But MTV and FOX both demonstrate that ability to stay near the top of the charts thanks to mainstays like "Jersey Shore" and "Teen Mom" (MTV) and "Glee" and "Family Guy" (FOX).
  • Concur Spikes; Wunderlich Launches With Buy, $56 Target
    August 31, 2011
    Shares of expense management software provider Concur Technologies are trading sharply higher Wednesday after Wunderlich Securities analyst Richard Baldry launched coverage of the company with a Buy rating and $56 target price. The stock closed Tuesday at $40.19.
  • AT&T promises 5,000 new jobs after T-Mobile merger
    August 31, 2011
    The company says workers will be needed to fill call center jobs if the deal is approved. And then the Justice Department steps in to try to block the deal.
  • HTC Jetstream, AT&T's first 4G tablet, arrives September 4th
    August 31, 2011
    HTC has officially announces the Jetstream tablet. But at $700, will anyone bite?
  • Sony tablets are strong contenders to compete against iPad (review)
    August 31, 2011
    Sony is dishing more details about its two new upcoming tablets. Their designs go against the norm, which would very well please or deter many customers.
  • AT&T to Return Jobs to US If T-Mobile Deal Is Approved
    August 31, 2011
    AT&T promises to bring 5,000 call-center jobs back to the U.S. if it's acquisition of T-Mobile USA is approved.

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  • HTC and AT&T to offer HTC Jetstream for $699.99 WITH 2-year contract
    August 31, 2011
    The rumored HTC 10 inch tablet is coming next week to AT&T, but at a high subsidized price of $700.
  • Sony debuts Android-based Walkman prototype
    August 31, 2011
    At the IFA show, Sony gave CNET the first look at its Android-powered music player. With several music-specific features and the product family's best sound quality, it's geared for audiophiles.
  • US GDP -- Target of Deception
    August 31, 2011
    When economists, corporate executives and the U.S. Government discuss the strength of the economy, they always refer to Gross Domestic Product.  Is this out of laziness, complacency or just because it is the thing to do?  As citizens, business owners and taxpayers, shouldn't we be more sophisticated when trying to analyze how
  • HTC Jetstream 10.1-inch tablet coming soon ... for $699.99!
    August 31, 2011
    Does a tablet with a $699.99 price tag have a chance at success?
  • TriQuint: Barclays Downgrades; Says Guidance Too High
    August 31, 2011
    TriQuint Semiconductor shares are trading lower Wednesday morning after Barclays Capital analyst Blayne Curtis cut his rating on the mobile phone chip maker to Equal Weight from Overweight, while chopping his target price in half to $12, from $6. The stock closed yesterday at $8.16.
  • HTC Jetstream has Honeycomb, can use two 4G networks
    August 31, 2011
    The HTC Jetstream goes on sale by AT&T on September 4, the first tablet with the ability to use both LTE and HSPA+.
  • Nokia eyes Vision+ to boost Windows Phone apps
    August 31, 2011
    The handset maker is working with a new investment fund called Vision+ to help fund and spur innovation for app development on the Microsoft mobile phone platform.
  • HP to continue making TouchPads (for now)
    August 31, 2011
    After pulling the plug on the TouchPad, HP has now decided to keep making the doomed tablet ... at least until October.
  • Reading Braille Activates the Brain's Visual Area
    August 31, 2011
    Does a blind person reading Braille process words in the brain differently than a person who reads by sight? Mainstream neuroscience thinking implies that the answer is yes because different senses take in the information. But a recent study in Current Biology finds that the processing is the same, adding to mounting evidence that using sensory inputs as the basis for understanding the brain may paint an incomplete picture.
    Researchers in Israel, Canada and France used brain imaging to observe the neural activity of eight blind subjects as they read Braille. They found that although the blind subjects were using their sense of touch, their brains showed activity in the same so-called visual region that sighted people use when they read.
    [More]

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  • Real storage in a virtual world
    August 31, 2011
    Storage is front and center at VMworld this week. And well it should: storage has always been the virtual machine's (VM) Achilles heel. Can it be fixed?
  • Graphene to boost internet speed
    August 31, 2011
    Graphene, the strongest material on Earth, could help boost broadband internet speed, say researchers.
  • Headphone maker Skullcandy buys European distributor
    August 31, 2011
    (Reuters) - Headphone maker Skullcandy Inc said it has bought Kungsbacka 57 AB for $18.6 million, giving it rights to directly sell products in most of Europe.