Interesting Reading #700 - Cheap Ultrafast Broadband, Facebook replacing web, Understanding Anonymous, Secret space plane and much more!

by | Mar 7, 2011 10:35 PM ET

Long-Term Chevrolet Volt: 763 miles, By the Numbers - "Despite all of these factors, the Volt nearly ties the diesel Jetta for consumption/economy/cost; and beats its low-tech platform-twin Chevy Cruze handily. Oh, and the lifetime miles per gasoline gallon reading on the dash is hovering just above 50 right now. We'll continue to update you on this figure as well, as it is germane to those who most want to reduce our foreign oil use. Watch for all of these numbers to improve dramatically as the urban commuting miles continue to roll up, and the temperatures gradually rise...."

iPhone 5 to sport aluminum back, redesigned antenna and A5 chip - Report - "With the iPad 2 announcement now behind us, it's time to start focusing on Apple's next big release - the iPhone 5. Over the past few months, rumors surrounding Apple's next-gen iPhone have been few and far in between, but the rumors that have surfaced are quite intriguing. From an NFC capable device to an entirely new form factor with a 4-inch screen, Apple appears to have something big in the works come June. Indeed, even publications like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times - papers Apple often uses to 'leak' information - have intimated that the iPhone 5 will be a significant departure from the iPhone 4...."

Is this a good idea?

Pollinating Earthlike planets? - "The recent news that scientists have discovered at least 54 distant Earthlike planets -- that is, rocky orbs in the so-called "Goldilocks zone" of their stars, where temperatures allow liquid-state water –- is raising hopes that we're not alone in the cosmos. But instead of merely searching for life elsewhere in the universe, should we also be trying to put it out there?"

Made in America: small businesses buck the offshoring trend - "In early 2010, somewhere high above the northern hemisphere, Mark Krywko decided he'd had enough. The CEO of Sleek Audio, a purveyor of high-end earphones, Krywko was flying home to Florida after yet another frustrating visit to Dongguan, China, where a contract factory assembled the majority of his company's products. He and his son, Jason, Sleek Audio's cofounder, made the long trip every few months to troubleshoot quality flaws. Every time the Krywkos visited Dongguan, their Chinese partners assured them everything was under control. Those promises almost always proved empty...."

Who Is Safe From the Robot Revolution? - "First, they came for the assembly workers, and America didn't speak out, because we were not all assembly workers. Then they came for the packers and sorters, and we didn't speak out, because we were not all packers and sorters. Then they came for the weapons builders, the nurses, the surgeons, the soldiers, the astronauts, the maids, the lab researchers, and the lawyers ..."

Pirated Copy of ‘The Hurt Locker' Airs on National TV - "In anticipation of the Academy Awards ceremony last week, Belarusian TV viewers were treated to some previous Oscar-awarded movies. One of the films that Belarus' National State Television decided to air was last year's best picture The Hurt Locker. However, the channel managers apparently didn't go through all the proper licensing channels, electing to show a copy that had been downloaded from the BitTorrent site Interfilm.ru instead....."

Mass Effect 3 Concept Art Surfaces on the Web - "Some high quality concept art pieces for Mass Effect 3 have appeared online...."

Ars reviews the Motorola Xoom - "Although the Xoom has a lot to offer, the product feels very incomplete. A surprising number of promised hardware and software features are not functional at launch and will have to be enabled in future updates. The Xoom's quality is also diminished by some of the early technical issues and limitations that we encountered in Honeycomb. Google's nascent tablet software has a ton of potential, but it also has some feature gaps and rough edges that reflect its lack of maturity...."

ebooks on borrowed time - "HarperCollins says US libraries can lend its ebooks only 26 times as print books have to be replaced after that..."

Another ARPA-E Winner: General Compression's Renewable Energy Storage Ramps Up in 30 Seconds - "One of the success stories at the recent Department of Energy ARPA-E summit held to highlight innovators funded under the $400 million to find renewable energy innovations in the Recovery Act, is General Compression (GC). The start-up is developing an innovative compressed air energy storage system that will help get more renewable energy on the grid...."

Anonymous: the new face of cyber-war

Science Satellite's Crash Leaves NASA 'Devastated' -- and Flummoxed - "A NASA satellite designed to study aerosols' influence on climate and measure solar energy failed to reach orbit this morning. The crash marks the second time in two years that a NASA climate satellite has failed to launch...."

Space plane and its secret payload set for launch - "An experimental robotic space plane developed for the Air Force is slated to launch Friday from Cape Canaveral, fueling an ongoing mystery about its hush-hush payload and overall mission...."

IBM's Watson and Sherlock Holmes - "Not surprisingly, this new computer program disturbs people who regard machines as inherently threatening, a fear as old as the Industrial Revolution, which brings us back to Dr. Watson and Detective Holmes...."

Google frags fragmentation with Fragments API for older Android versions - "In a post on the Android developer blog, Google has announced the availability of a new static library for Android developers that provides a more portable implementation of the Fragments API. This will allow third-party Android application developers to take advantage of Fragments without having to sacrifice backwards compatibility with existing Android handsets...."

Ask Maggie: On iPad 2 vs. the original iPad - "Apple's iPad 2 is thinner, lighter, and faster than the original, but is it different enough from last year's model to entice new customers? That's the big question. Apple sold more than 15 million iPads in 2010. But this week, when Apple introduced the new iPad 2, some people are disappointed that latest version was still missing key features and isn't much different from its predecessor. The device goes on sale in the U.S. on March 11...."

So Far Rivals Can't Beat iPad's Price - "The iPad 2, unveiled on Wednesday, offers several sleek improvements over its predecessor. But its most attractive feature is perhaps the same one its predecessor had: the price tag. And what makes that feature even more compelling is that so far, Apple's competitors in tablets cannot beat or even match it...."

Apple iPad 3: What we Want - "All of this got us thinking—what precisely will the iPad 3 offer that will so utterly blow its predecessors out of the water? It's probably a little early to discuss a feature set for the thing with any real accuracy, but that doesn't mean we can't engage in wild and wishful speculation...."

Forget Google – it's Apple that is turning into the evil empire - "This gives Apple unparalleled power. Lots of other organisations offer paid-for downloads, but none has the credit card details of so many internet users who are accustomed to paying for stuff online. This was one reason why proprietors of print magazines began to slaver when the iPad appeared. Here at last was a way of getting people to pay for online content: just make it available on iTunes and let Apple collect the money. Sure, it rankled that Apple took 30%, but – hey – at least it would bring to an end the parasitic free riding that was endemic on the web. Henceforth, the web was dead: publishing magazines as iPad apps was the future...."

Transplant patients a target of Arizona budget cuts - "A pacemaker and defibrillator fitted to carpenter Douglas Gravagna's failing heart makes even rising from the couch of his Phoenix-valley home a battle. But it is not congestive heart failure that is killing him, he says. It is a decision by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to stop funding for some organ transplants as the state struggles to reduce a yawning budget deficit...."

UNICEF Landmine Stickers

Not Happening: The 10 Most Unbreakable Records in Sports History

'I no longer hope for audacity': Matt Damon turns against Obama as President loses his celebrity friends - "It appears the list of Barack Obama's celebrity friends is dwindling. Actor Matt Damon - who was one of the President's earliest and best-known celebrity supporters during his 2008 campaign - said point blank that he was unhappy with the way the country is being run in an interview with Piers Morgan last night. He also slammed the President for failing to follow through on many of his campaign promises, particularly on education...."

The Fix for High Oil Prices? Regulate the Speculators - "After all, as I wrote last month on DailyFinance, Libya represents a mere 0.5% of U.S. oil imports, and Saudi Arabia is increasing its production to make up the difference. There has been no sudden increase in demand for oil, nor has there been a truly significant drop in supply. In fact, refineries -- which convert crude oil into gasoline and other chemicals -- are operating at a relatively low 88.4% of capacity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Institute. So why are oil prices going up so much? Speculators..."

U.S. Considering Tapping Oil Reserves As Gas Prices Rise - "President Barack Obama's chief of staff says the administration is looking at the nation's oil reserves as it considers options for dealing with the spike in gas prices. The price of a barrel of oil has passed $100. In the U.S., gasoline is averaging $3.50 a gallon..."

TSA Surveillance: Peep Show, Police State, Privacy Invasion or All Three? - "We've heard how if you don't like TSA screenings, then don't fly; instead take a bus, a train, or drive your car. If gas prices keep climbing, driving may not be an affordable option in the future. In that same future, Homeland Security had considered hitting the streets with TSA airport-like body scanners to covertly peek under your clothes, into your bags, and even into your vehicles. Whether you call it a police state, a peep show, or plain old privacy invasion, the increasing surveillance needs to stop...."

Why America Will Stay on Top - ""Of course I worry about America," he says. "The whole world depends on America ultimately, particularly Britain. And also, I love America—a marvelous country. But in a sense I don't worry about America because I think America has such huge strengths—particularly its freedom of thought and expression—that it's going to survive as a top nation for the foreseeable future. And therefore take care of the world."..."

The $110 Billion Question - "When one looks across the Arab world today at the stunning spontaneous democracy uprisings, it is impossible to not ask: What are we doing spending $110 billion this year supporting corrupt and unpopular regimes in Afghanistan and Pakistan that are almost identical to the governments we're applauding the Arab people for overthrowing? "

Charlie Sheen: A Bellwether For What Is Next - "When asked why he had a thing for women who make their living in porn, he allowed as to how he is the best at what he does and so are they. As the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus put it, it's the same impulse we have to slow down at an accident scene. Marcus went on to say that the decent thing to do would be to avert our eyes and hope he gets help. Can I just tell you? I beg to differ...."

Lindsay Lohan Surveillance Video Photos Hit the Web - "Scenes from a surveillance video allegedly showing Lindsay Lohan stealing a $2,500 necklace will appear on a Web site and still images already are on the Internet...."

The Dawn of the Super Server - "We're in the midst of a computing implosion: a re-centralization of resources driven by virtualization, many-core CPUs, GPU computing, flash memory, and high-speed networking. Some have predicted, only half-jokingly, that we will be able to buy a mainframe in a pizza box server that fits in a small fraction of a data center rack. That possibility — and in my opinion, inevitability — means we have a lot to watch over the next few years: what I like to call the coming of the Super Server...."

Did scientists discover bacteria in meteorites? - "No, no, no. No no no no no no no no. Fox News broke the story, which ought to make one immediately suspicious — it's not an organization noted for scientific acumen. But even worse, the paper claiming the discovery of bacteria fossils in carbonaceous chondrites was published in ... the Journal of Cosmology...."

Wanna see what gold atoms look like?

Will Facebook replace company Web sites? - "A day might be coming when the power of Facebook means that major companies no longer bother with their own Web sites. That was the startling if self-promotional possibility sketched out by Stephen Haines, commercial director of Facebook's U.K. operation, while speaking today at the Technology for Marketing and Advertising conference here. Essentially, Haines argued, companies' interactions with their customers could take place so often on Facebook that company Web sites would fall by the wayside...."

Hyperlocal Heartbreak: Why Haven't Neighborhood News Technologies Worked Out? - "Neighborhood news aggregator Outside.in has been acquired by AOL, according to multiple reports this morning. Apparently it's being bought for less than the big pile of money that high-profile investors put into it, back when hopes were high. It's sad, really: the ambitious hyper-local news technology services of the last few years don't seem to be working out very well...."

Google Responds To Android Malware, Will Fix Infected Devices And ‘Remote Kill' Malicious Apps - "Google has now confirmed that 58 malicious applications were uploaded to Android Market, and that they were downloaded onto around 260,000 devices before Google removed the apps Tuesday evening. That number sounds alarmingly high, but Google believes that only device-specific information, namely the phone's IMEI number, was compromised — and that no personal data or account information was ever transferred. Given that these apps were getting root access, this could have been a lot worse. Now the cleanup begins...." See also: Google Plans To Remotely Kill Rogue Apps in Wake of Android Attack

As telecom industry evolves, success of Netflix is its biggest threat - "But the more that consumers embrace the movies-at-home ethos of Netflix, the more uncomfortable major players in the entertainment industry have become. Now Netflix, a secretive company known more for the laid-back attitude of its founder than for sharp elbows, has emerged at the center of a titanic clash over the future of television...."

Cheap, Ultrafast Broadband? Hong Kong Has It - "HONG KONG residents can enjoy astoundingly fast broadband at an astoundingly low price. It became available last year, when a scrappy company called Hong Kong Broadband Network introduced a new option for its fiber-to-the-home service: a speed of 1,000 megabits a second — known as a “gig” — for less than $26 a month. In the United States, we don't have anything close to that. But we could. And we should. "

[[[Interesting Reading #699 – Don't buy iPad2, Printing a new kidney, Mean girls, Beating a polygraph and much more!]]]

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