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Books

Submission + - Bezos Patenting 'Dumb' Tablets, Glasses, Windshields 2

theodp writes: GeekWire reports on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' pending patent on remote displays that communicate with base stations and operate on wireless power. Reducing devices to mere screens with minimal storage that receive pre-rendered content (e.g., bitmap images), the patent application explains, eliminates the need for bulky batteries or processors, and employing techniques like electromagnetic or electrostatic induction allows one to cut the cord completely. Such remote displays, Amazon suggests, could find a home on college campuses (tablets), in your car (windshield displays or DVD players), and even on your face (eyeglasses).
Music

Submission + - Napster: The Day The Music Was Set Free 1

theodp writes: Before iTunes, Netflix, MySpace, Facebook, and the Kindle, 17-year-old Shawn Fanning and 18-year-old Sean Parker gave the world Napster. And it very was very good. The Observer's Tom Lamont reports on VH1's soon-to-premiere Downloaded , a documentary that tells the story of the rise and fall of the file-sharing software that started the digital music revolution, and shares remembrances of how Napster rocked his world. 'I was 17,' writes Lamont, 'and the owner of an irregular music collection that numbered about 20 albums, most of them a real shame (OMC's How Bizarre, the Grease 2 soundtrack). One day I had unsupervised access to the family PC and, for reasons forgotten, an urge to hear the campy orchestral number from the film Austin Powers. I was a model Napster user: internet-equipped, impatient and mostly ignorant of the ethical and legal particulars of peer-to-peer file-sharing. I installed the software, searched Napster's vast list of MP3 files, and soon had Soul Bossa Nova plinking kilobyte by kilobyte on to my hard drive.' Sound familiar?
Google

Submission + - Will Apple Get Over Its 'Laptop Haphephobia'?

theodp writes: Ridiculed as a very uncool Microsoft thing by Apple CEOs Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, the idea of touchscreens on laptops and desktops got a major boost this week from cool kid Google, who essentially called BS on 'Gorilla Arm Syndrome' FUD with the introduction of its high-end Pixel Chromebook. So, with Google Pixel validating Microsoft's touch strategy, will Apple be forced to get over its 'laptop haphephobia' and join the c'mon-c'mon-c'mon-c'mon-now-touch-me laptop club? Hey, 'vertical touch' could yet become a 50-year-old 'overnight' success!
Software

Submission + - The Billionaire 'Cat Lady' of Silicon Valley

theodp writes: In a weeklong series called TODAY Takes Action, NBC and The Today Show tackled what they called 'four important social issues' — fatherhood involvement, emergency preparedness, shelter pet adoption and hunger prevention. Partnering with NBC for anchor Natalie Morales' PSA on Pet Adoption was Maddie's Fund, the animal welfare foundation PeopleSoft and Workday founder Dave Duffield funded to the tune of $290+ million to fulfill a promise made to his beloved (deceased) miniature schnauzer Maddie. Duffield, whose PeopleSoft was sold to Oracle for $10.3 billion, told Forbes he hopes the success of recently-IPOed Workday will allow him to 'really smash this problem [saving shelter dogs and cats] to bits.' Towards that end, Maddie's Center is scheduled to open in 2014, with room for 375 cats and 125 dogs according to plans filed with the City of Pleasanton. Hey, had she pursued The Startup Life, the Simpsons' Eleanor Abernathy might have been able to make good on that 'cats in everyone's pants' pledge!
Programming

Submission + - What Early Software was Influential? 1

theodp writes: That his 28-year-old whip-smart, well-educated CS grad friend could be unaware of MacWrite and MacPaint took Dave Winer by surprise. 'They don't, for some reason,' notes Winer, 'study these [types of seminal] products in computer science. They fall between the cracks of "serious" study of algorithms and data structures, and user interface and user experience (which still is not much-studied, but at least is starting). This is more the history of software. Much like the history of film, or the history of rock and roll.' So, Dave asks, what early software was influential and worthy of a Software Hall of Fame?
Microsoft

Submission + - You Need a Touchscreen for Windows 8

theodp writes: Over at CNN, David Goldman opines that you need a touchscreen for Windows 8. 'The ability to touch, tap, swipe and pinch on Windows 8 computers is what makes the new operating system come to life,' Goldman writes. 'You can still use Windows 8 without a touchscreen, but that's kind of like tossing aside the remote, getting up, and repeatedly pushing buttons to change the channel on your TV.' Just 5% of Win 8 laptops sold through Dec. 15 had touchscreens. At $500 or so, the Asus VivoBook with its 11.6" screen is the cheapest touchscreen Win 8 laptop, which helps explain why many are settling for budget u-can't-touch-this Win 8 laptops until prices fall, which is expected to occur in mid-2013.
Software

Submission + - Typingpool: Human Audio Transcription Parallelism 1

theodp writes: Silly rabbit, parallel processing is not just for Big Data! Building on techniques outlined by Andy Baio back in 2008, Wired writer and 20% Doctrine evangelist Ryan Tate has released Ruby-based software called Typingpool to make audio transcriptions easier and cheaper. 'Typingpool chops your audio into small bits and routes them to the labor marketplace Mechanical Turk,' Tate explains to his reporter pals, 'where workers transcribe the bits in parallel. This produces transcripts much faster than any lone transcriber for as little one-eighth what you pay a transcription service. Better still, workers keep 91 percent of the money you spend.' Remember to Use the Force for Good, Tate adds.
Education

Submission + - Are App Vendors Guilty of "Reverse Redlining"?

theodp writes: Apple iOS parents, reports GeekWire, can pick up the Dr. Seuss classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas in app form for their kids this holiday season for 99 cents. The interactive storybook app is also available for Xmas gift-giving by Windows 8 parents, but they'll pay $4.99 for a version that lacks the features available in the $0.99 iOS version. Which raises some interesting questions: 1. As concerns are being raised over a new Digital Content Divide, is it cool to have owners of the cheapest computers pay 5x the price charged to the most elite consumers, especially for an inferior port of an existing app from the same vendor? 2. Why exactly does a port of an existing app have to be sold at a price which so vastly exceeds that of the original — is it mostly due to economies of scale, difficulties of cross-system app development, or pricing shenanigans?
Privacy

Submission + - Salesforce.com: It Took a Cloud to Re-Elect Obama

theodp writes: Vivek Kundra, who joined Salesforce.com after serving as the nation's first CIO, said Obama’s re-election campaign used Salesforce.com to gauge the feelings of core voters. '[The platform allowed] the campaign to aggregate sentiment in real time and [gave it] the ability to and mobilize people in the field,' Kundra said. On its blog, Salesfoce.com is also touting 'The Obama Campaign’s Salesforce Success', saying it took a cloud to get the President re-elected: 'Never before could campaigners do so much to connect, listen, measure, and respond; never before did their success depend so much on doing it.' Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff was 1 of 35 co-chairmen of the presidential campaign, and played host to Obama at pricey fundraisers at both his home and Salesforce.com headquarters (motorcade video) for high-rolling donors. So, with lawmakers blurring the line between data mining and cyberstalking, is resistance against companies tying people's real-life identities to their online browsing habits futile?
Math

Submission + - How Big Data Became So Big

theodp writes: The NYT's Steve Lohr reports that his has been the crossover year for Big Data — as a concept, term and marketing tool. Big Data has sprung from the confines of technology circles into the mainstream, even becoming grist for Dilbert satire ('Big Data lives in The Cloud. It knows what we do.'). At first, Jim Davis, CMO at analytics software vendor SAS, viewed Big Data as part of another cycle of industry phrasemaking. 'I scoffed at it initially,' Davis recalls, noting that SAS’s big corporate customers had been mining huge amounts of data for decades. But as the vague-but-catchy term for applying tools to vast troves of data beyond that captured in standard databases gained world-wide buzz and competitors like IBM pitched solutions for Taming The Big Data Tidal Wave, 'we had to hop on the bandwagon,' Davis said (SAS now has a VP of Big Data). Hey, never underestimate the power of a meme!
Education

Submission + - Will Online Learning Disrupt Programming Languages?

theodp writes: Back in the day, getting traction for a new programming language was next to impossible. First, one needed a textbook publishing deal. Then, one needed a critical mass of CS profs across the country to convince their departments that your language was worth teaching at the university level. And after that, one still needed a critical mass of students to agree it was worth spending their time and tuition to learn your language. Which probably meant that one needed a critical mass of corporations to agree they wanted their employees to use your language. It was a tall order that took years if one was lucky, and only some languages — FORTRAN, PL/I, C, Java, and Python come to mind — managed to succeed on all of these fronts. But that was then, this is now. Whip up some online materials, and you can kiss your textbook publishing worries goodbye. Manage to convince just one of the new Super Profs at Udacity or Coursera to teach your programming language, and they can reach 160,000 students with just one free, not-for-credit course. And even if the elite Profs turn up their nose at your creation, upstarts like Khan Academy or Code Academy can also deliver staggering numbers of students in a short time. In theory, widespread adoption of a new programming language could be achieved in weeks instead of years or decades, piquing employers' interest. So, could we be on the verge of a programming language renaissance? Or will the status quo somehow manage to triumph?
Businesses

Submission + - Microsoft Buys MultiTouch Pioneer Perceptive Pixel

theodp writes: Back in 2006, a post on Jeff Han's multi-touch screen technology — a real TED crowd-pleaser — gave Slashdot readers a taste of the iPhone and iPad future. Han spun off his NYU Research into a company called Perceptive Pixel which, among other things, gave the world CNN’s Amazing Magic Wall. On Monday, Steve Ballmer announced that Microsoft is acquiring Perceptive Pixel, which not only means you'll be able to run Windows 8 on an 82-inch touchscreen, but that the Apple v,. Motorola Mobility lawsuit is about to get more interesting!
Businesses

Submission + - Silicon Valley Values Shift to Customersploitation

theodp writes: Bill Davidow is the real Silicon Valley deal. Commenting on how Silicon Valley has changed over the decades, Davidow is not impressed, dishing out harsh words for Facebook, Apple, Google, and others. 'When corporate leaders pursue wealth in the winner-take-all Internet environment,' concludes Davidow, 'companies dance on the edge of acceptable behavior. If they don't take it to the limit, a competitor will. That competitor will become the dominant supplier — one monopoly will replace another. And when you engage in these activities you get a different set of Valley values: the values of customer exploitation.'
Databases

Submission + - The Notorious B.I.G. Data 1

theodp writes: When it comes to industry buzzwords, 2012 is shaping up to be the Year of Big Data. And to paraphrase the late Notorious B.I.G, writes Aberdeen's Mollie Lombardi, mo' data means mo' problems. In Taming The Big Data Tidal Wave, Teradata Chief Analytics Officer Bill Franks (aka Dr. Insight) offers execs and getting-up-to-speed techies a welcome look at what to do when Big Data opportunities knock. But in its effort to stay vendor-neutral, the book pretty much avoids name-dropping specific technologies. So, how about it — what specific open source or vendor software/hardware technology is your organization using to tame Big Data? Is anything working surprisingly better — or worse — than you originally thought it would?
Programming

Submission + - Willie the Guide Dog on Programming Blindly 1

theodp writes: Google may be a dog-friendly employer, but SAS has upped the ante, adding Willie the Seeing Eye Dog to its blogging team. Willie, who is software development manager Ed Summers' best friend, will be blogging about his excellent adventures with Ed as they work to make their software accessible to users of all abilities. Ever consider how you might leverage VoiceOver technology to create data visualizations that also support tactile and auditory interaction (pdf) on iOS devices for blind users? Ed and Willie have!

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