Deep Thought is Dead, Long Live Deep Thought

Amr Abouelleil ‘Where are these jobs that will require such rapid “searching, browsing, assessing quality, and synthesizing the vast quantities of information”? We don’t need those skills to drive a truck or manage company accounts or sell clothes or do IT customer service or write novels or write code or give inoculations to patients or … Continue reading

Where’s _why? Ruby

What happened when one of the world’s most unusual, and beloved, computer programmers disappeared. Annie Lowrey In March 2009, Golan Levin, the director of Carnegie Mellon University’s interdisciplinary STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, invited an enigmatic and famed computer programmer known to the virtual world only as “Why the Lucky Stiff” or  “_why”—no, not a typo—to … Continue reading

Firefox 9 and fancy JavaScript optimizations

Peter Bright Another six weeks have gone by, and another version of Firefox has been released. Still not officially "live," Firefox 9 improves on Firefox 8 with a JavaScript engine that’s up to 30 percent faster and, well, not a whole lot else. Mac OS X users will have a little more to gain, as … Continue reading

Will You Live Forever by Uploading Your Brain into a Computer?

Gary Stix  Neurons of the retina Ray Kurzweil and other so-called transhumanists have promised that in coming decades we will be able to transfer a digital copy of the trillions of connections among nerve cells in our brains into a computer. We would essentially reincarnate ourselves as non-biological beings that persist for eternity inside a … Continue reading

Salting hard drives to max capacities to 18TB

Sean Gallagher Running out of disk space for your movies and music? There’s good news from Singapore. Researchers at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering have found a way to increase the density of hard disk storage by six times over current drives, all thanks to salt. While he was a graduate student at … Continue reading

LibreOffice momentum, heading to Android, iOS, and the Web

Ryan Paul LibreOffice, a community-driven fork of that was founded last year, is gaining considerable momentum. An announcement made this week at a LibreOffice conference in Paris revealed that a number of French government agencies plan to adopt the open source office suite. The LibreOffice development community is also working on a number of … Continue reading

First ASUS ultrabook to market

Casey Johnston ASUS unveiled its new ultrabook, the UX 21/31 or “Zenbook,” at an event in New York yesterday. The smallest 11-inch version of the Windows 7 computer has an Intel Core i5 processor, weighs 2.43 pounds, and is priced at $999. The Zenbook has beaten all the other manufacturers to market, as it is … Continue reading

The first time I used an Apple computer

Jon Brodkin When I saw the news that Steve Jobs had died, my first thought was the terrible loss the technology world has suffered. My second thought brought me back to 1984 (give or take), when I was about 5 years old and my parents bought an Apple IIe. It was the first computer I … Continue reading

The Silk browser fastest mobile browsing experience

Erica Naone Among the features announced with Amazon’s new Kindle Fire tablet is an unexpected and innovative new piece of software: a Web browser called Amazon Silk that taps into Amazon’s enormous cloud infrastructure to speed up the delivery of content to a mobile device. Browsing the Web on a smart phone or tablet can … Continue reading

Steve Jobs 1955 – 2011

Jacqui Cheng Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, father of the Macintosh and the brains behind the wild success of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, has passed away, Apple has confirmed on its website. He was 56. Jobs was the adopted son of a Mountain View, CA couple and grew up in Cupertino, the city where … Continue reading

Better than the iPad?

Our first impression: It’s better than the iPad. Erica Naone The Kindle Fire is the tablet you need at the price you’ll be willing to pay. The $199 device comes packed with content and features that are arguably better than what’s available on the iPad, and at a fraction of the price. Wow. Crucially, Amazon’s … Continue reading

Amazon Opens Fire

The new Kindle is a tablet for the masses. Will Oremus Jeff Bezos introduces the Kindle Fire, Amazon’s entry into the tablet marketTo just about any criticism of its new Kindle Fire tablet, Amazon has a two-word answer. It doesn’t come with 3G Internet access? It’s $199. It doesn’t take pictures? It’s $199. It won’t … Continue reading

Amazon launches $79 Kindle

In addition to the news today that Amazon will be launching its Kindle Fire tablet and a $99 touchscreen e-reader called the Kindle Touch, Bloomberg reveals that the company plans to introduce an ultra low price version of the traditional, E-Ink Kindle (just called Kindle) at just $79. As confirmed by Jeff Bezos on stage, … Continue reading

Firefox 7 reduces memory footprint

Ryan Paul Mozilla has released a new version of the open source Firefox Web browser. The update brings a much slimmer memory footprint courtesy of Mozilla’s MemShrink project. The new release also includes some improvements to hardware-accelerated rendering on Windows, support for the W3C navigation timing specification, and an opt-in system for collecting performance data. … Continue reading

Dawkins’ weasels v/s Anderson’s monkeys to Shakespeare’s work

John Timmer There’s a classic example of probability that focuses on the question of whether a million monkeys, given a million typewriters, could ever recreate a work of Shakespeare by chance. A programmer from Nevada is now giving virtual monkeys a chance, having them pop out random strings and matching the results against the complete … Continue reading

Taking Touch beyond the Touch Screen

A prototype tablet can sense gestures, and objects placed next to it. Duncan Graham-Rowe A tablet computer developed collaboratively by researchers at Intel, Microsoft, and the University of Washington can be controlled not only by swiping and pinching at the screen, but by touching any surface on which it is placed. Finding new ways to … Continue reading

First Quantum Computer With Quantum CPU And Separate Quantum RAM

Computer scientists have built a superconducting number cruncher with a Von Neumann architecture that paves the way for a new era of quantum computation kfc Back in 1946, the world’s first general purpose electronic computer was switched on at the University of Pennsylvania. The huge processing power of ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer) stunned … Continue reading

Mac trojan poses as PDF to open botnet backdoor

Jacqui Cheng Malware continues to be a minimal threat to most Mac users, but that doesn’t mean attackers aren’t constantly trying to come up with new ways to steal information or turn users’ machines into botnet drones. The latter appears to be the case with a new Mac trojan posing as a PDF file, discovered … Continue reading

$1,279-per-hour, 30,000-core cluster built on Amazon EC2 cloud

Jon Brodkin Amazon EC2 and other cloud services are expanding the market for high-performance computing. Without access to a national lab or a supercomputer in your own data center, cloud computing lets businesses spin up temporary clusters at will and stop paying for them as soon as the computing needs are met. A vendor called … Continue reading

Can a Supercomputer Predict a Revolution?

Not quite yet. But a new study suggests how it may one day be possible. JOSHUA E. KEATING On Dec. 6, 1941, the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), a radio monitoring operation set up by the U.S. intelligence community and one of the earliest experiments in what it now called open-source intelligence, delivered its very … Continue reading

Portal is used to teach science

as Valve gives game away for limited time Ben Kuchera Portal is one of the rare games that can change the way we think about the world, how we view the physical space around us. Valve is now offering the first Portal title for free, provided that you download a copy of the program for … Continue reading

Bubble Boys

Out in Silicon Valley, the last bastion of full employment, the Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerbergs of the future are staying up all night writing code in dorms. Christopher Beam Feross Aboukhadijeh (YouTube Instant).   (Photo: Dan Winters) Feross Aboukhadijeh likes to tell the story of how he got famous. It happened last fall, as he … Continue reading

Local-Global Flip

or, "The Lanier Effect" "If you aspire to use computer network power to become a global force through shaping the world instead of acting as a local player in an unfathomably large environment, when you make that global flip, you can no longer play the game of advantaging the design of the world to yourself … Continue reading

iPad-only workday?

Jacqui Cheng According to Steve Jobs, we’ve already entered the post-PC world thanks to the iPad, the iPhone, and other non-computer computing devices. But have we? Sure, musicians and artists might get by doing their work on these newfangled devices, but what about those of us who lack the talent to doodle New Yorker covers … Continue reading

New Improved Moore’s Law

Under "Koomey’s law," it’s efficiency, not power, that doubles every year and a half. By Kate Greene Researchers have, for the first time, shown that the energy efficiency of computers doubles roughly every 18 months. The conclusion, backed up by six decades of data, mirrors Moore’s law, the observation from Intel founder Gordon Moore that … Continue reading

Researchers flag phony domains in e-mail security study

Nancy Owano A paper released this week shows how an e-mail scoffing technique picks up personal employee information, company secrets and passwords almost effortlessly with just the setting up of domain and e-mail server. The researchers discovered business invoices, employee personal identifying information, network diagrams, user names, passwords, and trade secrets were part of the … Continue reading

What’s Yahoo To Do?

Is there any way the once-great Internet company can reclaim its former glory? Farhad Manjoo Fired Yahoo CEO Carol BartzGive Carol Bartz a break. When she was hired as CEO early in 2009, Yahoo was a floundering, once-great company that needed to slim down and reorganize to reckon with a future dominated by Google and … Continue reading

New forensics tool can expose all your online activity

Jamie Condliffe IT IS another escalation in the computer security arms race. Software that can uncover all of a person’s online activity could, in the hands of the police, put more sex offenders behind bars – but it may also be exploited to develop new ways of avoiding being caught. Researchers from Stanford University in … Continue reading

Flash Memory That’ll Keep On Shrinking

Using atom-thick carbon instead of silicon could pack ever more data into portable electronics. Katherine Bourzac Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, and one of the largest manufacturers of computer memory, Samsung, have created a new kind of flash memory that uses graphene—atom-thick sheets of pure carbon—along with silicon to store information. Incorporating … Continue reading

A Cloud over Ownership

Online services set content free from the physical world’s constraints—including those that have defined the very idea of possession. Simson Garfinkel Our possessions define us. Yet today the definition of possession itself is shifting, thanks to cloud services that store some things we hold dear on distant Internet servers. When those belongings reside in Netflix’s … Continue reading

Creation Myth

Xerox PARC, Apple, and the truth about innovation. Malcolm Gladwell The mouse was conceived by the computer scientist Douglas Engelbart, developed by Xerox PARC, and made marketable by Apple. In late 1979, a twenty-four-year-old entrepreneur paid a visit to a research center in Silicon Valley called Xerox PARC. He was the co-founder of a small … Continue reading

How Windows 8 will invade tablets

Peter Bright For the first time in fifteen or more years, Redmond faces a genuine challenge to its Windows desktop monopoly. The threat isn’t coming from Linux or from Mac OS X or from any other operating system. It’s coming from a whole new computing concept: the "post-PC." The worry is that upstart tablets threaten … Continue reading

Does Apotheker need an apothecary?

Why HP is exiting the PC business Anders Bylund One of our favorite acronyms is ditching another one: Hewlett-Packard wants to spin off its personal computers division in a dramatic move. Whatever the means—spin-off, direct sale, or "other transaction"—HP is done with this low-profit market. Yes, that announcement comes from the current leader in worldwide … Continue reading

Open office dilemma: vs. LibreOffice

Dueling open source alternatives to Microsoft Office match word processors, spreadsheets, and much more; which one should you choose? By Neil McAllister | InfoWorld is one of the leading competitors to the Microsoft Office suite of business productivity applications. Originally developed as StarOffice in the late 1990s, the suite had been managed in recent … Continue reading

Firefox 6 ships

but we shouldn’t really pay attention Peter Bright The Mozilla organization has shipped Firefox 6, eight weeks after the release of Firefox 5. Just as with Firefox 5, not a lot has visibly changed. The domain name in the address bar is now highlighted, to make phishing more apparent—mimicing a similar feature already found in … Continue reading

The Visionary

A digital pioneer questions what technology has wrought. Jennifer Kahn  Jaron Lanier, at home with his daughter, believes that social-networking sites devalue friendship. Photograph by Martin Schoeller. One day in June, Jaron Lanier was lounging barefoot in the living room of his house in the Berkeley hills. Stretching back on a worn sofa, he began … Continue reading

The Death of Booting Up

Three cheers for computers that start instantly. Farhad Manjoo Remember "booting up"? It was the first thing you did every morning—you waited two minutes, three minutes, sometimes even longer while your computer ran through a series of self-tests, loading screens, and an error prompt or two before settling into any kind of useful state. Booting … Continue reading

Red, Delicious, and Rotten

How Apple conquered China and learned to think like the Communist Party. BY CHRISTINA LARSON A friend in Beijing recently told me a story about the time a China Telecom technician came over to install the Internet connection for her Apple laptop. The man, an experienced worker, puzzled over the slim, silver device. He picked … Continue reading

Intel integrated graphics: finally good enough for the MacBook Air?

Chris Foresman At long last, Apple released Intel’s highly anticipated Sandy Bridge updates on both the MacBook Air and Mac mini earlier this month. However, many of these machines—along with the 13" MacBook Pro introduced earlier this year—rely solely on Intel’s integrated graphics, a move that raised eyebrows among users allergic to the reduced performance … Continue reading

Search Engines Change How Memory Works

Brandon Keim Thanks to search engines, most simple facts don’t need to be remembered. They can be accessed with a few keystrokes, plucked from ubiquitous server-stored external memory — and that may be changing how our own memories are maintained. A study of 46 college students found lower rates of recall on newly-learned facts when … Continue reading

Building a better quantum computer with lasers and (impure) diamonds

Chris Lee 1mm yellow diamond cubes If the development of a quantum computer were like motor racing, then we would currently be in the twisty-turny bit that comes before we barrel over the mountain and hit the long, fast straightaway. We know the requirements for quantum computing; we even know systems that kinda-sorta meet these … Continue reading

Researchers discover ‘indestructible’ botnet

Jacob Aron Security researchers at Kapersky Labs have discovered botnet software that uses a range of techniques to remain undetected, making it "practically indestructible". Computers infected by the software, called TDL-4, fall under control of the botnet’s criminal owners and can be used to pump out spam or commit other online attacks. Communication with the … Continue reading

Spies can send messages hidden in a Google search

Paul Marks THE peculiar list of search options that Google suggests as you type in a query could be hijacked to let people communicate secretly. So says Wojciech Mazurczyk at the Warsaw University of Technology in Poland, who specialises in steganography – the art of hiding messages in plain sight. Mazurczyk and his team dream … Continue reading

LulzSec rampage continues: 62k e-mails and passwords, CIA attacked

Peter Bright Hacking group Lulz Security is continuing to amuse itself at the expense of others, with the release today of 62,000 e-mail addresses and associated passwords. The group didn’t say where it got the information, or how it got it; instead, it exhorted its Twitter followers to create lulz of their own, and use … Continue reading

Farewell to the Moleskine?

Michael Parsons I always remember one of the editors on a Silicon Valley start-up I worked at who was so defiantly digital that he had nothing on his desk but his Mac and a gnarled, aggressive piece of wrought iron sculpture. The message was simple: “I’m digital. I don’t do paper. So don’t even think … Continue reading

Welcome to the Internet, Steve

Does the release of iCloud mean Apple finally gets the Web? By Farhad Manjoo Steve Jobs introduces iCloudApple has never quite embraced the Internet. Sure, it runs the world’s largest digital store, selling more music and apps than anyone else. But if you believe that the "cloud" is becoming the nexus of computing—if you believe … Continue reading

Erase entangled memory to cool a computer

Anil Ananthaswamy Hot stuff (Image: Bob Stefko/Riser/Getty) Imagine cooling a supercomputer not with fans or freezers, but by deleting some of its memory. New calculations show that this is possible, provided some of the bits that make up the computer’s memory are "entangled"– a spooky property that can link two quantum systems, no matter how … Continue reading

Phase Change Memory-Based ‘Moneta’ System Points to the Future of Computer Storage

A University of California, San Diego faculty-student team is about to demonstrate a first-of-its kind, phase-change memory solid state storage device that provides performance thousands of times faster than a conventional hard drive and up to seven times faster than current state-of-the-art solid-state drives (SSDs). A view of the internals of the Moneta storage array … Continue reading

Quantum Knowledge Cools Computers

From a laptop warming a knee to a supercomputer heating a room, the idea that computers generate heat is familiar to everyone. But theoretical physicists have discovered something astonishing: not only do computational processes sometimes generate no heat, under certain conditions they can even have a cooling effect. Behind this finding are fundamental considerations relating … Continue reading

4th Time a Charm for Apple? From iDisk to .Mac to MobileMe to iCloud

Brian X. Chen Steve Jobs introduces the iPad in a January 2010 event. Photo: Jon Snyder/ Apple has revealed the name of its upcoming online media service: iCloud. But don’t let the cute branding fool you. The company has tried this service before, and the iCloud rebranding signals a do-over on one of Apple’s greatest … Continue reading