Tico Byte for February, 2011


Good morning members,


I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s day, being with, or remembering, all your loved ones and those who love you.  I sure did.


The next meeting of the Club is this coming Saturday, Feb. 19th, at 9am, at the Pan American School, as usual.  I hope to see you all there; it should be a good meeting.


On with the Byte:


Item 1.  Skype is doing more and more. and expects to hire 350 new people this year.


Skype announced a new partner program for its Wi-Fi hotspots service, Skype Access, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Monday. Using Skype Access, Skype users can pay for Wi-Fi hotspot access using Skype Credit on a pay-as-you-go (per minute) basis, rather than having to pay by day or by hour. Skype introduced this program in January 2009 and has slowly expanded the network over time. Story here:



Item 2.  Have you seen the computer vs human Jeopary?


Computers that reliably understand human communications have been a staple of fiction going back decades or more. The Enterprise's computer in the 1960s vintage "Star Trek" series is as good an example as any. And truth is, that particular science-fictional ability probably would not have seemed all that remarkable to the typical person of the time. Access billions of pages of text, pictures, and video from a gadget I can fit in my pocket? Play a game with immersive graphics on a huge, high-resolution screen that hangs on the wall? For a computer engineer, the fact that those inexpensive consumer devices have more computing power than all the then-computers in the world would impress as well. But understanding speech? That's something a toddler can do. Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13556_3-20031781-61.html#ixzz1E1wlOuEp


Item 3.  There must be something really good about it.


September 8th 2008 was one of the worst days ever for the London Stock Exchange (LSE), and high-end Windows server-based applications. That was the day that the LSE came to a crashing stop. What happened? While the LSE has never come clean on the whole story, my sources told me that the LSEs Windows-based .NET TradElec stock exchange had crashed. What we do know is that the CEO who had brought Windows and TradElec in was fired, TradElec was dumped, and a Novell SUSE Linux-based platform was brought in to replace it.


Today, February 14th, the LSEs Linux-based Millennium Exchange took over and everything just worked. It did take longer to switch to Linux than expected, because of what the LSE first called “sabotage” but later put down to “human error” in late 2010. On its first day, out LSE ran like a charm. Story here: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/the-london-stock-exchange-moves-to-novell-linux/8285


Item 4.  Article on focus, Microsoft, Apple and HP; and why innovation doesn’t matter.


All three of these companies can execute, but only Apple is consistently executing, and that is why Apple is so highly valued by investors and customers. In the end, innovation only represents an opportunity -- execution pays the bills. The Microsoft IE team did; the HP TouchPad team did not. Story here:  http://www.technewsworld.com/story/Why-Innovation-Really-Doesnt-Matter-71840.html


Item 5.  It’s not all “pirating”.


One of the tidbits that came out of the YouTube/Viacom lawsuit was the fact that Viacom quite frequently would upload its own clips to YouTube, but did so trying to pretend they were pirated clips. In fact, they would send employees out of Viacom's offices to local printshops to upload the videos under childish sounding names, like "MMysticalGirl8, Demansr, tesderiw, GossipGirl40, Snackboard and Keithhn," to make people think they were pirated copies. Not surprisingly, it appears that Viacom was not alone in this tactic. Slashdot points us to an analysis that certainly suggests that pretty much all of the major film studios were doing the exact same thing. There are surprisingly long and clear clips of various movies, uploaded at times perfectly coinciding with major marketing campaigns, and sometimes they can even be connected (with some digging) to marketing firms. Sorta takes the sting out of the claims that YouTube clips are so damaging, doesn't it?


Item 6.  Speaking of drugs:


Modern medicine has come a long way, but it still has a long way to go -- especially when it comes to figuring out whether or not drugs are even doing better than a placebo. Categorizing and quantifying the development of drugs in a more public way could speed up the progress of new treatments, so it's nice to see some folks getting around to doing just that. Here are some links about drugs and a relatively new way to diagnose brain disorders. Story here: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110104/12431912514/dailydirt-better-medicine.shtml


Item 7.  “There will be no facebook phone”.  (How did I know this?)


He's said it before: there will be no Facebook phone. And now it's clear what he meant -- Zuck's strategy is to integrate Facebook into every phone telling us today at the HTC launch event in Barcelona that we're only seeing the first wave of Facebook-enabled phones hitting the market, with dozens of phones featuring deep social integration coming this year.


Item 8.  Fun times at the PC meeting.


Come one; come all.