pacopico writes: It's taken more than 80 years, but someone has finally overtaken Thomas Edison as America's top inventor. The dude is named Lowell Wood, and he was once behind the infamous "Star Wars" space laser project and a protege of Edward Teller. Wood seems to be using his powers more for good these days and has become the right hand inventor for Bill Gates and his philanthropic endeavors. He's making efficient nuclear reactors, universal vaccines and anti-concussion football helmets. Quite the life.
pacopico writes: Gennady Korotkevich — aka Tourist — has spent a decade ruling the world of sport coding. He dominates TopCoder, Codeforces and just about every tournament sponsored by the likes of Google and Facebook. Bloomberg has profiled Korotkevich's rise through the sport coding ranks and taken a deep look at what makes this sport weirdly wonderful. The big takeaway from the piece seems to be that sport coding has emerged as a way for very young coders to make names for themselves and get top jobs — sometimes by skipping college altogether.
pacopico writes: In a new biography on him, Elon Musk goes into gory details on his plans for colonizing Mars. The author of the book subsequently decided to run those plans by Andy Weir, the author of The Martian. Weir's book is famous for its technical acumen around getting to and fro The Red Planet. His conclusion is that Musk's technology, which includes the biggest rocket ever built, is feasible but that Musk will not be the first man on Mars. The interview also hits on the future of NASA and what we need to get to Mars. Good stuff.
pacopico writes: Among the revelations in a new biography on Elon Musk are some pretty insane details on the lengths SpaceX's competitors have gone to to try and undermine the start-up. The book quotes Lori Garver, the former #2 at NASA, saying her life was threatened as a result of backing SpaceX. “I had death threats and fake anthrax sent to me,” she said. Garver also ran across SpaceX competitors that tried to spread unfounded gossip about the company and Musk. “They claimed he was in violation of tax laws in South Africa and had another, secret family there. I said, ‘You’re making this stuff up.’" Most of this came from SpaceX's competition in the US, but Musk is afraid of overseas threats now too. "The list of people that would not mind if I were gone is growing," Musk told the author. "My family fears that Russia will assassinate me." The space business is apparently pretty dang rough.
pacopico writes: In a typically blunt interview, Linus Torvalds has said for the first time that if he were to die, Linux could safely continue on its own. Bloomberg has the report, which includes a video with Torvalds at his home office. Torvalds insists that people like Greg Kroah-Hartman have taken over huge parts of the day-to-day work maintaining Linux and that they've built up enough trust to be respected. This all comes as Torvalds has been irking more and more people with his aggressive attitude.
pacopico writes: From the — didn't see that one coming files — is the news that Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison has decided to try and revive tennis. Bloomberg Businessweek has a feature outlining Ellison's plans to create a new American tennis tour, a junior academy and a celebrity-packed event near Los Angeles. He's already sunk more than $100 million into the project and has Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer backing him.
pacopico writes: A few years ago, Steve Ballmer was describing Linux as a "cancer." Now, in an interview with Businessweek, he's admitting for the first time that Microsoft's nasty FUD campaign against Linux and open-source software was misplaced. "Linux didn’t end up being the broadside we expected," Ballmer says. The statement discounts the effect Linux had on Microsoft's server business but is at least part of a series of mea culpas Ballmer is making as he tries to figure out what to do next. Ballmer has been discussing his takes on other topics like Apple and Microsoft's marketing campaigns while teaching an MBA course at Stanford.
pacopico writes: Things have gotten downright nasty between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Blue Origin, Bezos's rocket company, has partnered with United Launch Alliance to make engines for future rockets. The deal, as combines the two mortal enemies of SpaceX and heats up the race to build reusable rockets. NBC has a story in which Musk welcomes the coming battle while talking to the author of his upcoming biography. "Competitors ganging up against you is the sincerest form of flattery," Musk said.
pacopico writes: What appears to be the first production ARM server in the wild has come from an unexpected place. According to Businessweek, a start-up called Cynny has built its own ARM-based server from scratch using a chip from Marvell. The server is smaller than a credit card, and Cynny is using the hardware to run its own file-sharing service. Cynny has filled three data centers in the U.S. and Europe with its systems but does not seem to be selling the hardware on its own.
pacopico writes: Intellectual Ventures, the world's most infamous patent troll, has changed its tune — maybe. According to a story in Businessweek, the company has started turning a number of its ideas into products, ranging from hydration sensors to waterless washing machines and self-healing concrete. The story reveals some new tidbits about IV, including that it pays inventors $17,000 per idea, has a new start-up fund and that one of its cofounders got tossed out of school for hacking. IV is obvisouly trying to improve its reputation, but plenty of skeptics remain who think this is just a ruse meant to draw attention away from its patent lawsuits.
pacopico writes: Founded in 2009, Andreessen Horowitz has ended up as the most well regarded venture captial firm in all the land in record time. Its founders Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz took start-up marketing and engineering and sales help to a new level. The other big VC shops have since moved to copy it. But, as Businessweek reports, the firm is facing a backlash for the first time based largely on the tweetstorms of Andreessen. Slate, Valleyway, the Awl and others have been critical of Andreessen's technology cheerleading at a time when Silicon Valley is rubbing people in San Francisco and elsewhere the wrong way. In the story, Andreessen makes no apologies and says his message continues to resonate with the true believers.
pacopico writes: HP Labs is trying to make a comeback. According to Businessweek, HP is building something called The Machine. It's a type of server that will use memristors for memory and silicon photonics for interconnects and ship possibly by 2017 (good luck). As for The Machine's software, HP plans to build three open source operating systems, including a new one from scratch and its own versions of Linux and Android. The new computer is meant to solve a coming crisis due to limitations around DRAM and Flash. About three-quarters of HP Labs personnel are working on this project.
pacopico writes: The start-up Fatdoor launched this week with a remarkably ambitious mission. As Businessweek reports, it's combining a social network for neighborhoods with a smartphone app, a quadcopter drone and an autonomous food delivery bot. It's like all of Silicon Valley's favored things rolled up into one. The story questions whether the company has any real chance of creating unifying ties between all these products, but it should be fun watching it try.
pacopico writes: Russ Rive owns a company called SuperUber that builds all manner of crazy tech installations. As it happens, he's Elon Musk's cousin, and Musk has commissioned Rive to build a type of world projector at SpaceX that will reside in the company's lobby. According to a story in Businessweek, there will be a real-time projection of the Earth complete with live weather patterns and satellites going around it. Visitors will also be able to call up rocket launches and watch the rockets' flight path into space.
pacopico writes: Silicon Valley venture capitalists have not always been the first to back Elon Musk's super risky ideas. In fact, as Businessweek reports, a firm in Chicago called Valor Equity run by Antonio Gracias has been the quiet, major investor behind Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity. With Tesla and SolarCity's shares soaring, Valor is doing very well and has capitalized big time on Musk's success. Oddly, its next major move has nothing to do with technology but will be instead to take Dunkin' Donuts and Little Caesars to Mexico and China. The firm is looking to become the Auto Nation of food.