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January 29, 2010

Mobile ad leader "excited" about Apple iPad

The Apple iPad could be huge for the nascent mobile advertising market -- now advertisers can expect to have ads that display in tens of thousands of iPhone apps displayed on a new portable device. And, it appears Apple has positioned itself to take full advantage of the growing industry with its recent purchase of Quattro Wireless. paulpalmieri.jpg

Another big mobile ad company, based here in Baltimore, Millennial Media, is also bullish on the iPad's prospects for mobile advertising. Paul Palmieri, Millennial's co-founder and CEO (left), shares his thoughts below:

As the CEO of the leading independent mobile advertising network and technology provider, I am excited about the opportunity to extend our market-leading advertising solution to the new iPad ecosystem of application developers, publishers and advertisers. 

I wanted to share a few of my initial thoughts on the iPad after yesterday’s announcement:

The iPad is a big mobile device, not a stripped down PC. This isn’t a surprise to us. We have been predicting for years that tablet devices would ultimately be based on mobile platforms. Why? I see a couple of reasons for this:

* First, the mobile experience is inherently different from the desktop experience. Devices and applications (and ad networks) built from the ground up to serve mobile users deliver a far superior experience. Trying to cram the wired web into smaller, mobile devices just doesn’t work for mobile consumers. millennial-media.gif

* The other primary reason is that mobile users are more willing to pay for content and are much more responsive to advertising (if done correctly) than web surfers on the wired web. Publishers and application developers see the potential of extending the smart phone ecosystem of pay and advertising- supported applications and mobile web-based content to a new category of device that is from its inception, inherently mobile. 

 

* The price is right. I was excited and a little surprised to see an entry price point of $499 for the device. I was even more excited to see $29.99 unlimited data plans, with no contract, and that it was only an additional $130 for 3G support. Clearly, there are different levels of pricing to appeal to specific user demands for speed and storage capabilities. This shows that, from the start, Apple sees the iPad as a mainstream, mass-market device. The unlocked, non-contract 3G support (free use of AT&T’s hotspots is another great addition) is healthy for the industry and good for consumers.

* Applications are more important than ever. Millennial Media supports a large ecosystem of application developers across numerous mobile platforms. Each application developer in our network that I have spoken with, from the largest media companies to the independent developer, has been incredibly excited about extending his or her applications to this new class of device.

* The palate for mobile advertisers has just been expanded. We have spent a good deal of time over the past year helping our advertising partners best use emerging mobile platforms, like the iPhone, Android and Blackberry platforms, to reach mobile consumers in new and exciting ways.

With the iPad and numerous other tablet devices poised to reach the market early in 2010, we are excited to work with advertisers to help them get the most out of this new class of mobile device. * The monetization roadmap for developers increasingly needs to be a coordinated business strategy.

New screens, new platforms and new opportunities mean complexity for developers. Developers should partner with providers who give them broad device and opportunity coverage in a coordinated fashion, and that have direct relationships with the advertisers who seek these new and powerful audiences.

Mobile applications are a rich and growing market, and being tied to a single operating system or set of devices can have a limiting effect (reach and financial). Feel free to check out the richest set of developer tools and revenue available today at http://developer.millennialmedia.com.

Those are my initial thoughts. You will be hearing a lot more about the iPad from Millennial Media in the coming weeks. -- Paul Palmieri


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:44 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Gadgets, Wireless
        

January 28, 2010

Apple iPad: pros and cons

iPadProsCons.jpg

As I reported (along with the rest of the techy and general media), Apple Inc. introduced the highly anticipated iPad tablet computer yesterday.

In general, I think, it was about what people had come to expect after months of speculation. As always, I expect Apple to add more bells and whistles to the thing -- and drop prices -- in six to 12 months. I might be a relatively early adopter, but I'm not bleeding edge, preferring to mull over a tech purchase and consider closely my own use patterns and needs.

That said, I sketched out some preliminary pros and cons of the iPad, as I perceive them. What am I missing? Of course, there's a little irony that I used a cheap Office Max yellow-lined pad in my analysis of a $500 pad-like machine. (Here are Apple's official tech specs for the iPad.)

The way I see it, if Apple managed to eliminate just two of my cons -- I'd say any two -- I'd feel more excited about the iPad. Til then, it's entered "wait, see and touch" land in my thinking -- which means many more future visits to the local Apple Store. (Aside to wife: Sorry, honey.)

That said, I think natural customers of this device will be iPhone and iTouch users, as well as those looking for netbooks to use primarily as a Web browsing device. I think that if most iPhone and Touch users are honest with themselves, they use these gadgets to do a LOT of Web surfing and content consumption -- and they may unconsciously be pining for more screen real estate to do these tasks on.

The iPad may not be an instant success, but I think the new category that Apple is taking a gamble on is here to stay.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:23 PM | | Comments (17)
Categories: *NEWS*, Apps, Gadgets, Wireless
        

January 27, 2010

LIVE Apple iPad coverage today

For updates via Twitter, follow @gussent.

Apple-media-invitation-2010-01-27-580x393.jpgHit refresh every minute or so!

Whenever possible, BaltTech will be featuring live reports from the Web to participate in covering Apple's big event today, where the company is expected to unveil a new "tablet" computer. Other sources of info include Engadget and Gizmodo.

PLEASE HELP: I will be looking to feature (and embed) live streaming video OR audio of the Apple event in this blog, so you can watch it in real-time. So if you find such a feed, please shoot me a Tweet with the link at @gussent or leave in the comments. In the meantime, check out The Sun's Read Street blog for a live Twitter feed!Many thanks!

IF a tablet is announced today, here are some questions I'll have about it:

* How much will it cost?
* How does it interact with existing iPhone apps? (And does it run a version of the iPhone operating system?)
* What kind of e-book experience does it offer?
* What kind of gaming experience does it offer?
* Does it do live video-conferencing?
* How will the iTunes store change to accommodate it?

What other questions do you have about the device? Drop a note below.

Live blog updates:

1:00 pm... Huge applause
1:03 pm ... Steve Jobs... we have over 140 apps on app store and 3 billion downloads from users.
1:04 pm ... Jobs talks about huge revenue gains for apple in last quarter....
1:04pm... revenue from ipods, iphones, macbooks... "apple is a mobile devices company... that's what we do." Jobs.
1:05pm Jobs: Apple, by revenue is the largest mobile device maker in the world... (when you talk about mobile/portable in total)
1:06: Now let's get to the main event (jobs teasing the crowd... instead, takes crowd back to 1991 and the first powerbook, as the first modern laptop computer)
1:07 Is there room for another category of devices? Of course we thought of this question for years as well (brief outage
1:09: third category of device have to be better at gaming, e-media than a laptop or a smart phone... some people say 'that's a netbook.' the problem is that netbooks aren't better at anything... they're just cheap laptops. (big laughs)
1:10: We call it the iPad
1:11... it's the best browsing experience you've ever had... (it looks like a big fat iPhone, folks)
1:12: describes how to email... almost lifesize keyboard.. "it's a dream to type on."
1:12: iPad is an awesome way to enjoy your music collection... (Jobs running through the various applications...i.e. YouTube in high-def...)
1:13: Jobs making lots of comparisons and saying it's better navigation experience than a smaller smartphone (Leo Laporte's feed just fuzzed out)
1:14 Jobs shows how easy to easy to buy movie tickets with iPad ("grab the tablet that's in the kitchen...")
1:18: Jobs shows off closeup of the virtual keyboard
1:19: shows off how to manage photos on the iPad
1:20 (Editorial: So far, folks, I think we're about par for the course here. .. No huge surprises if you've been following the tablet rumor mill the last few weeks)
1:21: Built in ipod in the iPad... no surprise there. (Leo Laporte's audio feed is glitchy again)
1:22: Jobs showing off the calendar function
1:24: Jobs showing off Google Streetview and how to find restaurants (sushi in San Francisco, for example)
1:24: Showing off video now, i.e. Youtube in HD.
1:27: movies, tv shows, music videos [so far, this device is heavy on pushing iTunes and YouTube content]
1:28: ipad is half an inch thin and weighs 1.5 pounds. 9.7 inch display ("super high quality", Jobs says)
1:29: Jobs going over tech specs of the iPad [appears to be around same size as Amazon's Kindle DX]
1:30: wireless networking
1:30 Ten hours of battery life [commentator asks, are those Apple hours or real hours?]
1:31 Now talking about the Apps and the Apple Apps Store
1:32 New apple exec explains how the iPad can automatically increase the size of apps originally designed for iPhone so they can be used on the iPad
1:35 Editorial: will this iPad be an ergonomic nightmare for people who try to type with it?
1:40: [Experiencing some technical problems on the live feed]
1:40: Showing off the gaming experience on the iPad.
1:41 [Editorial: Listening to Leo Laporte's feed... I have to say, if Apple prices this at $999, I don't think it'll be a winner. Just my 2 cents]
1:42 NYTimes content looks really nice on the iPad.
1:44: Electronic Arts about to show off games on the iPad
1:48 Very cool racing game being demo'ed... [Game console makers may have something to fear from this portable device]
1:49 Now Major League Baseball will show off what it has to offer on the iPad
1:52... here we go: the ebook reader. Jobs makes direct comparison to Amazon Kindle ... new app is called iBooks. ("we're going to stand on their shoulders," Jobs said of Amazon.)
1:53: will have five of the largest publishers in the world supporting iBooks... "and we'll open up the floodgates for the rest of the publishers this afternoon."
1:55 Jobs explains how to navigate on the ebook pages...
1:56 "And that is iBooks..."
1:57 [FYI: Gizmodo has some good, clear photos of the iPad over at: http://live.gizmodo.com/]
1:57: Jobs introduces updated iWork software productivity suite for the iPad
1:59 New versions of Keynote, Pages and Numbers software....
2:02 [Editorial: I'm not sure anyone was expecting Apple to configure iWork to work on the iPad....pleasant surprise? This device can also be used to do some productive work, too.]
2:06 Showing off how to use Pages to make spreadsheets.. [Aside: Imagine that: making spreadsheets with your fingers!]
2:10 $9.99 for each of the three iWork software apps... [Cheaper than I thought -gus]
2:12 Back to Jobs: syncing with iTunes.... 3G wireless data built in... Now what's it cost for data: U.S. Telecom typically charges $60 a month ... we 've got two awesome plans... first gives u 250 MB per month: just $14.99, or an unlimited plan for $29.99... AT&T providing the data .... No contract. you can cancel anytime....
2:23: Okay, folks, I'm stepping away from second-by-second blogging of the event... what do you think so far of the iPad?? Drop comments below!!


Leo LaPorte's live broadcast from the Apple event:
Live Broadcast by Ustream.TV


Live Videos by Ustream



First-person iPhone footage of the Apple event today:
Free video chat by Ustream


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 2:23 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Gadgets, Gamers, Geeks, Media, West Coast, Wireless
        

Twitter local trends comes to Baltimore

I signed on to Twitter this morning to discover that I now had access to its latest feature: local trends.

twitterTrendingBaltimore.gifFor those who maybe aren't so familiar with Twitter.com, one of its tools for highlighting what people are talking about is trending topics.

That feature has been only available from a worldwide perspective (though you could figure out tweets around you by using Twitter's specific search tool.)

But Twitter users should be seeing a local version of trends, meaning now we'll see results from what Tweeters in Baltimore (or several other cities) are talking most about.

In Baltimore this morning, these are the top topics (left). Apparently, there're a lot of people in Charm City excited about their IRS tax refund check. Heck, so am I!


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 7:59 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

January 26, 2010

Your cellphone bill has gone down 50% in 20 years -- are you happy now?

Why are you complaining about your cellphone bill? Don't you know that the average monthly bill for cellphones has gone down nearly 50 percent since 1988?!

I stumbled across this graph from CTIA, the wireless industry's trade group, yesterday while leafing through its Website. Back in 1988, when cellphones were the size of shoes, the average monthly bill was $95. Cellphones were truly a luxury item. They reached a monthly low in Jun 1998, at $39.88, but then bumped up into the mid-to-high $40s. My back-of-the-napkin guess is that's because feature phones and smartphones started to hit the market (and text-messaging plans started taking off).

So, does this make you feel a little better about your wireless bill? Hehe.... :-)

avglocalmonthlycellbill.gif


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 7:00 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Wireless
        

January 25, 2010

Maryland's "top" defense information technology contractors

Gov. Martin O'Malley's recently released report on the cybersecurity industry in Maryland, dubbed "CyberMarlyland", has a listing of the "top" defense IT contractors in the state.

It's not clear by what standard these companies are labeled as "top," but at a glance, it's probably safe to say that they are significant employers.

What I want to hear from you is: Which of these companies is hiring right now and which ones are a great place to work? Let's help each other out.

Here's the list, in alphabetical order:

* Boeing

* Booz Allen Hamilton

* CACI International

* Computer Sciences Corp.

* General Dynamics Corp.

* Honeywell International

* IBM

* L3 Communications

* Lockheed Martin

* MITRE

* Northrop Grumman

* SAIC


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:59 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Government Tech
        

Was Apple inspired by Aol?

You gotta wonder -- at least I did -- if Apple was inspired by the creative doodlings of AOL in crafting their invitation to their press event on Jan. 27, where the highly anticipated tablet, or "iSlate", device is expected to appear.

A similar artistic sentiment appears to be at work in both instances. You've got bursts of bright colors that encase the company's logo (Apple) or name (Aol).

Both sets of corporate art work want to yell at you: look at how whimsical and creative we can be with bright colors!

Check 'em out side by side: What do you think? appleInvitation.jpg

AolLogos.jpg


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:27 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Media
        

January 21, 2010

Apple working on parking app for mobile devices

One of the Apple patent applications made public today details the company's efforts to create a useful parking application that mashes up a user's geo-location data with information about parking garages and parking regulations.

appleparking.JPG


The methods described in the application include using GPS and triangulation to help users locate themselves on a map. Then, using a computer algorithm, the application could send you automatic alerts to warn you if you're about to violate the parking regulations.

It's interesting to note that this isn't just about making your iPhone or whatever other Internet-connected portable device more useful. It's also about creating a venue for potential advertising revenue.

The patent filing states about the invention: "It has been considered to provide advertisements and other information pertaining to a present location of a mobile device. For example, detecting a present location of a mobile device, and providing information, including advertisements, about restaurants in that vicinity is an application that has generated interest."


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:46 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Smartphones, West Coast
        

Apple's solar powered iPhone and iPod?

One of the latest patent applications from Apple delves deeper into the company's experimentation with integrating solar power cells with their portable devices, including the iPod and iPhone models.

The patent -- titled "power management circuitry and solar cells" -- describes a system for a portable device use of solar power to either power the device fully, or assist in providing energy to a battery.

The patent appears to be an advancement of a previous patent that Apple filed in 2008, which was unearthed by MacRumors and which described how the solar panels would be configured on portable devices.

What's interesting about this patent is how Apple is integrating "boost" circuitry within the devices so that it can work together with the solar cells to generate power, even when power is already low or nonexistent or if some of the solar cells are obstructed.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:24 AM | | Comments (4)
        

January 20, 2010

The Top 10 features missing from the White House iPhone app

photo.jpg I've downloaded the White House iPhone app. It's chock full of content, from ideas for modernizing government to photos of First Lady Michelle Obama's birthday party.

But the app, frankly, leaves me itching for more White House insight. Here are the top 10 features I hope the Obama administration adds in Version 2.0.

10) Transcripts and voice snippets of the Nixon tapes. Just for giggles at our fingertips. Include a share with Twitter/Facebook function, too, guys.

9) A play-by-play of Coakley's loss to Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race. Or just a link to FoxNews.

8) A Google map of Cheney's secret bunker locations and the stores, pizza joints, and gas stations within a 1-mile radius of each.

7) Celebrity glam photo galleries of guests at White House state dinners, including our favorite party crashers, the Salahis.

6) One of those thermometer charts (the kind you see for local PTA fundraisers) that shows how close we are (or not) to passing health care reform.

5) A live Webcam peering inside Guatanamo Bay and the Gitmo prisoners' lives. Lift the secrecy!

4) George W. Bush's iPod playlists.

3) Bill Clinton's favorite ringtones.

2) In the spirit of bipartisanship, include a feed of tweets from FakeRonReagan.

And, drumroll please, for #1:

1) The official White House iPhone iFart sound effect. 

 

Do you have features that you'd like to see the Obama administration include in the White House app? Drop a note here!


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:51 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Government Tech
        

The NY Times they are a-charging!

Parking_meter_1.jpgThe New York Times said today they plan to move to a "metered" pay model, where heavy users of the site can be expected to be charged for access depending on the number of stories they click on.

The newspaper was careful to publicize the cautious deliberations they went through in making their announcement, which is expected to take effect in January 2011.

Indeed, it'll be a closely watched effort. I have to guess that many, many publishers who've contemplated moving their content behind a paywall may now wait to do so until they see how well the NYTimes does with it.

News publishers are a notoriously conservative bunch who look to the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal as trend-setters, to a certain extent.

Overall, though, I like the Times' idea so far. I think part of the success will depend on how many articles they choose to make freely available to casual users of their site and if they can propose a reasonable price structure for those who may be willing to pay a little for their content.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:03 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: *NEWS*, Media
        

Children and teens increasingly glued to their cellphones and iPods, study finds

ipod-death-ad.jpg
The Kaiser Family Foundation today released the results of a big survey that analyzed media use by children in the 8-18 age demographic, and the results probably won't surprise you.

In short, kids last year used cellphones and portable multimedia devices a lot more than they did in 2004. (But didn't you have a gut feeling that would be the case?)

The highlights of the report:

* Over the last five years, kids in the age range saw a "huge increase" in ownership of cell phones (39% to 66%) and iPods and other MP3 players (18% to 76%).

* About three in 10 young people say their parents set rules for multimedia consumption, i.e. TV, video games, computer usage.

* Two-thirds of young people say the TV is on in the home during meals, and 45% said the TV was left on in the home, even when no one was watching.

* Heavy media users reported getting lower grades. (Though the connection between media use and grades is not easy to establish, the report cautioned.)

* Black and Hispanic children spend more time with media than white children do.

* Big changes in TV, the report says -- The average amount of time spent watching regularly scheduled TV dropped by 25 minutes a day, but the new ways people consume video (Internet, cellphones, MP3 players) led to an actual INCREASE in total TV consumption

* What about good ol' fashion reading? Time spent reading books didn't drop over the five year period, but time with magazines and newspapers did.

* Girls spent more time on social networking sites, listening to music, and reading, while boys spent more time playing console video games, computer games, and watching video sites, like Youtube.

(Photo credit: Australian public service ad warning against distracted iPod listening via Engadget)


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:16 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

UMBC tops in computer and information science degrees

Update: In this post, originally published Friday, Jan. 15, I initially omitted the University of Maryland, College Park in the table below. I updated the table to include UMCP figures. Also, on the jump, you'll find a letter from two deans from UMCP who were distressed with my omission. It was an honest oversight made in manually transferring the data into a new table; my apologies, folks. -Gus

 

The CyberMaryland report released this week by Gov. O'Malley is chock-full of interesting factoids and charts, one of which I republished (and modified a little) below.

You'll see a list of Maryland colleges and universities in alphabetical order, followed by the number of bachelor's and graduate degree students they have in computer and information sciences.

I added the "percent of total" column to give us all a sense of each school's computer/info science geeks relative to their entire student body.

As you can see, UMBC in Catonsville stands well above the rest, and churns out many, many undergraduates in the fields.

Hopkins, on the other hand, has a good number of graduate students. Now, who wants to see some statistics on how many of these students actually stick around and work in Maryland after they get their degrees? 

updatedMDcollegesuniversities.gif

HERE’S THE DEANS’ LETTER:

 

Friday’s [BaltTech] blog offered a somewhat misleading “factoid” from the Maryland report on Governor O’Malley’s Cyber Security Initiative. First, you neglected to include the University of Maryland, College Park in the table. The original state chart rightly included Maryland’s Flagship University. Second, this particular metric itself offers a very limited snapshot of the state’s educational resources in the area of cyber security.

 

Adding College Park to the mix increases the total number of graduate and undergraduate computer and information science degrees by a total of 239. Indeed – as we believe the state’s table intends to show – Maryland has truly impressive assets in cyber research and workforce development to offer the nation.

 

But, it’s important to remember that “cyber” graduates and research cross many disciplines, including engineering, math and physics, not just computer and information science. For example, cryptology requires a mathematics background. The National Security Agency (NSA), based in Maryland, notes on its Web site that it is the largest employer of mathematicians in the nation.

 

Another example: quantum computing research may ultimately provide technology with a dramatically higher standard of security. College Park just won a major federal award to build one of the nation’s most advanced quantum science labs.

 

To more accurately reflect what the state will need to become the “epicenter” of cyber security, we really should look at STEM degrees – physical sciences, engineering and mathematics. Government and industry will principally need workers with these kinds of background as they ramp up to meet the cyber security challenge.

 

In this arena, the state’s Flagship University plays a leadership role. The state’s cyber report notes that College Park “produces the largest number of STEM graduates in the state and is the only public university on the East Coast with top 20 programs in math, physics, computer science and engineering.” Last year, more than 1,000 of our undergrad, graduate and PhD. students earned STEM degrees. No other university in the state came close.

 

As for quality, College Park’s graduate computer science program is ranked #13 nationally by U.S. News and World Report. The graduate physics and math programs are at the top among east coast public universities. The Clark School of Engineering is ranked 9th in the nation among public universities and is the top public graduate engineering program in the Mid-Atlantic area.

The high quality of College Park’s advanced research and education in a wide variety of fields adds great value to the state’s cyber dreams: http://www.umresearch.umd.edu/VPRPubs/cyber%20security.pdf

 

Look at the NSA Web site and you’ll see the backgrounds that the Agency puts at the top of its recruiting list: computer/electrical engineering; computer science; mathematics; foreign language; and intelligence analysis. It will take a lot of teamwork and all the state’s assets to achieve leadership in a competitive field such as cyber research. As the state’s Flagship University, College Park is gearing up to do its part.

 

Dean Darryll Pines,

A. James Clark School of Engineering, University of Maryland

 

Dean Steve Halperin,

College of Computer, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, University of Maryland

 


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:45 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: East Coast, University Tech
        

More companies now have to worry about "advanced persistent threat"

mroesch.jpg"The phrase 'advanced persistent threat' is something you're going to be hearing a lot more of the next two years," said Martin Roesch, founder of Sourcefire Inc.

That's one bit of perspective Roesch has to offer on last week's news of Google (and 30+ other companies) getting hacked by someone from inside China, by perhaps the Chinese government itself.

Roesch's company, based in Columbia, Md., crafts intrusion detection and prevention defenses for major government and military agencies and, increasingly, major companies.

Roesch says that government military networks have been accustomed to seeing the kind of sophisticated cyber attacks that Google Inc. experienced last week.

But the attack on Google may have been a watershed moment for corporations.

"This is the first time that nation-state-grade tactics were used against a commercial target," Roesch said. "They were trying to hide. They were taking the time to cover the tracks."

Hence the hacking term "advanced persistent threat," or APT. HackingUniverse.com defines APT as:

...cyber attacks mounted by organizational teams that have deep resources, advanced penetration skills, specific target profiles and are remarkably persisent in their efforts. They tend to use sophisticated custom malware that can circumvent most defenses, stealthy tactics and demonstrate good situational awareness by evaluating defenders responses and escalating their attack techniques accordingly.
Indeed, what may be remarkable in Google's case is not the hacking itself, but the fact that Google was able to sniff it out.

What the attack on Google means is that more companies in different industries will need to pay more attention to APT, from defense contractors to banks to health care systems, Roesch told me.

"I think you are seeing a new level of attacking taking place here," Roesch said. "I think this [attack on Google and others] does change the game and the scope of the problem. You have to consider a whole new security posture."


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Big Ideas, Government Tech, Web Dev & Apps
        

January 15, 2010

Twitter to launch Facebook Connect copycat?

Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch says that Twitter will soon debut a set of tools that will allow web developers to tightly integrate the service into their websites -- much like Facebook now offers through Facebook Connect.

The new Twitter product will allow sites to authenticate users, pull data and then publish back to Twitter, we’ve heard. All of these features exist today via the Twitter API, but the slick Facebook Connect-like packaging and easy-to-use widgets don’t exist yet.

Arrington notes that Facebook says 80,000 websites have added Facebook Connect, and 60 million Facebook users engage with Facebook connect on these third party websites each month.

Generally, I think I would be much more inclined to connect to a site via a "Twitter connect" feature than Facebook Connect. I have far less personal information associated with my Twitter account than with my Facebook account.

I know we're all supposed to be living in a post-privacy Internet (according to Facebook), but I still think a lot of people want a way to connect with others without sharing all sorts of private information with third parties.

Will Websites be as willing to integrate Twitter as they are with Facebook?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:18 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*, Apps, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Social Media, West Coast
        

American Red Cross, others raise millions via texting

juliestrange.jpgThe mobile giving phenomenon -- people donating money in small increments via text messages -- seems to have come into its own with the earthquake disaster in Hait.

Take a look at my story below about the topic. Mobile giving right now is breaking all sorts of records.

 

 

 

 

Haitian disaster makes mobile giving take off
Wireless customers' response called a record

by Gus G. Sentementes

For Julie Strange, helping the victims of a devastating earthquake in Haiti was just a text message away.

The 27-year-old Towson librarian read on Twitter of an American Red Cross campaign to raise money for disaster relief in the shattered country through text messaging.

Within a few minutes, she made a $10 donation by texting the word "HAITI" to a five-digit number - an act of mobile giving that she's done for other charities for a couple of years now. "It's definitely starting to get a little mainstream now," Strange said.

In a tough economy where people have been guarded with their wallets, organizations such as the American Red Cross are finding thousands of donors who are more willing to text-message for charity, often giving in small dollar increments.

After launching the mobile giving campaign early Wednesday, the Red Cross raised more than $3 million through text-message donations within 31 hours - or more than one-third of the $10 million in total donations collected by the organization in the early hours of the disaster.

For many involved in the fundraising, the Haiti disaster is now being hailed as a milestone for mobile giving. Both online and mobile giving have been fueled by the rise of social media Web sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, with users all over the world quickly sharing information on ways to help and donate money. (For the rest of the story, hit the jump)

"It's definitely the biggest [mobile giving] amount we've seen in the United States," said Carrie Housman, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, referring to the recent Haiti contributions. "This is our first time using it for an international disaster, and it's been tremendously successful. We're just overwhelmed by the generosity of the American people. It's incredible that we've been able to raise it $10 at a time."

The outpouring of mobile giving comes against a backdrop of declines in charitable donations in the United States over the past year because of a weak economy and the recession, experts said.

Charitable donations to nonprofits declined more than 9 percent in 2009, said Stacy Palmer, editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy. But Palmer predicted that Americans will be so struck by the horrors in Haiti that they will "find a way to reach in and give."

Just as in past disasters that saw more people turning to online giving, she predicted, the Haiti disaster would make people more comfortable with texting their donations to charities.

"I think texting was probably waiting for this kind of moment to take off," Palmer said. "I suspect more and more groups will be trying it."

The technology behind mobile giving - essentially simple text messaging through SMS, or Short Message Service - has been around for several years. Nonprofits have teamed up with technology companies and wireless providers to set up the technical systems they need to collect donations via text messages and then forward the funds to the charities.

Jeffrey Nelson, a spokesman for Verizon Wireless, said mobile giving has been steadily growing as a trend over the past five years.

In 2004, CARE, a nonprofit, raised $200,000 to benefit the victims of the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, he said.

The next best day for mobile giving came shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005: Wireless customers and carriers helped raise $400,000 in the first 24 hours, he said.

But wireless customers' response to the Haiti effort has been record-setting, said Nelson. "This is an incredible confluence of events that have come together in a brand-new kind of philanthropic support," Nelson said.

Generally, the money that people send via text message can take one to three months to make its way from a consumer's cell phone bill to a charity, but both nonprofits have pledged to speed up the process with the Haiti disaster.

The American Red Cross has also committed to forwarding $10 million in funds to the relief effort, as an advance based on the amount they've raised through online, text message and telephone donations.

Two nonprofits involved in coordinating the technological effort are the Mobile Giving Foundation, based in Washington, and mGive in Colorado.

The Mobile Giving Foundation is working with singer Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti Foundation and the William J. Clinton Foundation on text-messaging campaigns. MGive is working with the American Red Cross.

Jim Manis, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of the Mobile Giving Foundation, pioneered the technology in the mid-2000s and worked with wireless companies to have it ready for nonprofits and consumers to use. The Haiti disaster, he said, is now an "inflection point" for the mobile giving sector.

"Part of what we're doing is trying to change the face of philanthropy by increasing micro-donations," Manis said. "These horrible events, like the disaster in Haiti, create awareness around our existing abilities for mobile giving."

For the typical donor with a wireless account, the donation simply is added to the monthly statement as a straightforward transaction.

Some wireless companies might include some type of text-message usage charge with the transaction. Verizon Wireless is not charging its customers any fees, nor do the charitable text messages count against an all-inclusive messaging plan, Nelson said.

Copyright © 2010, The Baltimore Sun


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:09 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*, Smartphones
        

January 14, 2010

Google Earth maps Haiti destruction

The folks at Google Earth apparently worked double-time yesterday to make the latest satellite images available of the destruction in Haiti.

They added the most recent satellite imagery of Haiti, taken at approximately 10:27am EST yesterday, and made it available as a KML overlay for Google Earth, according to Google's LatLong blog.

The blog post has links to the imagery, which is focused on the Port-au-Prince area.


View Larger Map


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:46 AM | | Comments (4)
        

American Red Cross text message campaign raises more than $800,000

One text message at a time, the American Red Cross reports it has raised more than $800,000 through an online/text-messaging campaign to benefit disaster relief efforts in Haiti.

The Red Cross is one of several organizations that are doing text-message fundraising drives.

According to its Website: The public can also help by texting “Haiti” to 90999 to send a $10 donation to the Red Cross, through an effort backed by the U.S. State Department. Funds will go to support American Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.

Mobile giving may be one of the technological hallmarks of this latest major disaster, and how successful such campaigns turn out to be could influence nonprofit fundraising in the future.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:13 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

January 13, 2010

Catholic Relief Services embraces Skype, Facebook for Haiti disaster

The tweet about an hour ago from Catholic Relief Service's news department could not have said it any better:

@CRSNews CRS #Haiti staff continue to communicate via Skype and Facebook due to widespread phone disruption. New tech = vital link in emergencies.

With phone lines down on the island, CRS workers and volunteers are keeping in touch with with their relatives and colleagues here in Baltimore via Skype and Facebook, and it seems Twitter, too.

Another set of Tweets from 13 hours ago:

@CRSNews CRSHaiti staff letting their family members know they are well through Facebook updates and Skype. Phone lines down.

@CRSNews Checked in with CRS Haiti staff via Skype chat-Port-au-Prince team sleeping outdoors to avoid falling debris in face of violent aftershocks.

Are there examples of other major charities out there using social media to connect with workers on the ground in Haiti? Post your observations below, please!


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:33 AM | | Comments (3)
        

AOL laying off today -- What's up at Advertising.com?

AOL today plans to lay off more than a thousand people, though it remains unclear what the impact will be on the 300+ people who work at Advertising.com in Baltimore.

Do you know what's happening here in Baltimore? Leave a note in the comments section below. I am looking to deduce how deep the cuts will go here at Tide Point.

Hit the jump to read a memo sent to me by AOL's corporate communications director about the impending layoffs.

Hi Gus,

Since we’ve talked in the past about AOL’s restructuring effort, I want to update you. As you know, in November, we announced that the company would take a $200 million charge and that we planned to decrease the size of our global workforce by one-third. Late last year, we offered Voluntary Separation Program to enable employees to decide what was in their best personal and professional interest. We had approximately 1,100 employees opt to join the Voluntary program. At that time we announced the Voluntary program we noted that if we didn’t reach our target reduction of a third we would need to follow the voluntary program with an involuntary action. We did not reach that target.

The next phase of our restructuring plan will include an involuntary layoff. Our process internationally varies by country and is subject to local laws. We began meeting with employees throughout Europe today. For example meetings have already taken place in the UK, Germany and France, and we announced plans to shut down many of our offices in Europe, beginning with those in Spain and Sweden. In addition, we will be beginning the consultative process with the Workers’ Councils in relevant countries this week.

In the United States, we will begin notifying a limited number of individuals impacted by the involuntary layoff today, with the majority of notifications taking place in the U.S. on Wednesday, January 13. As of this point, this layoff will not trigger the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) in any of our locations. For many of the employees impacted in the U.S., Wednesday will be their last day in the office.

As you know from covering the company, since April, we have been moving through a process that started with strategy, then focused on structure, and has most recently been centered on aligning our costs with the company’s strategy and structure. As a part of this process, we’ve looked at every aspect of this business. We evaluated our competitive position and product portfolio in every market – and we asked the hard questions about areas that were no longer core to the strategy and our profit profiles in the businesses and countries where we operate.

We will be offering packages to impacted employees in the U.S. that will include severance, benefits and outplacement assistance, among other things.

All of our cost alignment work is about ensuring AOL’s sustainability and future success. Project Everest is the completion of phase one of AOL's turnaround.

Please let me know if you have questions. I’m happy to help.

Best,

Alysia

Alysia Lew
Director | AOL Corporate Communications
P: 212-652-6376| C: 732-233-2088
AIM: alysialew05
770 Broadway | New York, NY| 10003


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:27 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

Maryland, cyber security and the Google-China issue

Cyber security has been in the news this week, a lot.

First, Maryland's governor, Martin O'Malley, unveiled a big push to make the state the "national epicenter" of the cyber security industry. With major federal agencies already in place here, such as the National Security Agency, many observers think that Maryland is already going to play a big role in the nation's efforts to protect its military and civilian networks from hackers, spies, and thieves.

Next, Google made headlines yesterday when it disclosed in an official blog post that its networks and those of other American companies had been cyber-attacked from points originating within China.

It seemed at least part of the goal was to collect information on human rights activists in China, according to Google.

Google threatened to pull out of China and is no long willing to filter search results for Chinese citizens to appease the totalitarian regime.

Indeed, right now, if you visit Google.cn and type in Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, you end up with these results.

Google appears willing to turn its back on doing business in China, even as many other companies rush to get a piece of its growing economy. If Google really does pull out, that could mean its long-term growth prospects could be hampered.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:14 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

January 7, 2010

Did you lose money when ComputerTraining.edu closed?

ComputerTraining.edu, a Hunt Valley, Md.-based school that's been offering computer training for 17 years, suddenly shut its doors in late December in the middle of classes.

The operation had teaching locations in 14 states, including centers in Towson and Annapolis Junction here in Maryland. The story was covered extensively by news outlets in other states.

The closure came as a shock to many, from students to government officials who track such private career-training schools. Here's my story on it from today's edition. Liz Kay, our Consuming Interests blogger, also has some details on the rights and options that the school's students have.

I'd like to hear from Maryland students (or students in other states) on your experiences in trying to get either a refund or placed in another program. What are your plans? Who is (or is not) helping you? Are you getting any help from ComputerTraining.edu? What about the student loans you may have taken out?

Please, leave your comments below. Thank you.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:56 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

January 6, 2010

Top three Apple iSlate predictions

stevejobs.bmp Here are my my top three (speculative) game-changing features that Apple's rumored iSlate/iTablet will include when CEO Steve Jobs presumably launches on Jan. 27.

1) It will offer some type of unique three-dimensional or at least multitouch interface and experience that goes beyond what's currently available on the iPhone. (See my earlier blog post on one of Apple's latest patent filings on 3D tech.)

Why do I think this? Because Apple's not the kind of company to be content with simply "scaling up" their Tablet to simply be a larger iPhone, or a clunky finger-swiping iteration of its OSX/Leopard environment. When they enter a category, they play to change it completely.

2) It will offer cloud-based computing in a way that will be a big step for Apple. It will be able to stream more and more content and you'll be able to sync it with various Apple applications and perhaps even non-Apple apps.

3) I predict it will come embedded with some type of sophisticated image-recognition software system, where you can use the camera for various tasks, such as searching for objects you photograph and looking for information connected to the object online. (Not sure what I mean? Take a look at LookThatUp.com, by LTU Technologies -- a French company that one of Apple's product engineers used to work at.) Perhaps you might even be able to use the camera as a virtual joystick for controlling actions and apps on the Tablet.

What do you think? Follow my tweets at @gussent.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:43 AM | | Comments (8)
        

Baltimore's QLab rocking the sound design world

It's great to hear stories about how a piece of software can change the world -- or at least a small part of it. Chris Ashworth, 30, of Baltimore, has that story to tell with his QLab software, which is used to orchestrate big and small live event productions. It's used in theaters across the U.S. including Tony-award-winning Broadway plays, and in London.

You can find my full story on Chris and QLab, originally published today in the Sun's business section. (And back in October, guest blogger and Otherinbox.com founder Mike Subelsky did a great little Q&A with Chris.) Below, you'll find a short video of Chris demo'ing QLab in his Baltimore home for BaltTech.

One thing I want to highlight about Chris and QLab: Chris appears to have a very friendly, loyal and enthusiastic customer base who seem to be big fans of his software.

Yesterday, when I was looking for professionals to interview, Chris put out a request on his Website's discussion forum for customers to contact me. My inbox quickly began filling up with people from all over the world raving about Chris's customer support, attention to detail, and great software in QLab.

Here's one bit of an email (without the person's name, since I didn't get his permission):

As a designer, QLab has been a game changer for me, not so much because of its capabilities, but because of the price those capabilities are available at. Various types of sophisticated systems for both projections and audio playback has been available since the late 1990s in various forms. The problem is that the earlier systems were extremely expensive, prohibitively so for any production done on less than a commercial scale budget. Now don't get me wrong, these tools are great, but great was so expensive that it was rare that I was able to use them.

Here's a shot of Chris and his QLab logo:

QLabChris.jpg


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 7:57 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Big Ideas, East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Geeks
        

January 5, 2010

Another Millenial Media competitor bought for hundreds of millions

Baltimore's Millenial Media has to be feeling good right about now.

First, Google last month paid $750 million for its main competitor in the mobile advertising industry, AdMob.

Now, we get word from AllThingsD's Kara Swisher that another smaller competitor, Quattro Wireless, is going to be bought by Apple for $250 million.

Apparently, Apple wants to get deeper into the mobile ad business now that it has a powerful platform for doing so in the iPhone and its App Store (and don't forget the rumored Apple tablet that's supposed to come out later this month.)

According to one analysis by tech blog Silicon Angle, this would mean that the three big players in the mobile advertising space are Google, Apple and little ol' Millenial Media, which is based here in Baltimore's Canton neighborhood.

Could Millennial be the next Baltimore tech company startup-to-riches story? Will Millennial follow its competitors and sell to another far bigger company? Yahoo? Microsoft? Who else wants to go deep into the mobile ad space and would need a company like Millennial to lead them there?

I'm waiting to hear back from Millennial on what they think their future might hold.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:23 AM | | Comments (0)
        

January 4, 2010

The 3D tech behind the rumored Apple "iSlate" tablet?

Welcome! Follow BaltTech on Twitter at @GusSent!

Apple3Dimage.gif 

Some of the recent reports that predict Apple will launch some type of "tablet PC" next month have mentioned that the long-rumored device will have 3D graphics.

So what does "3D graphics" really mean and how could it be implemented? I found a recently-released patent filing which I traced back to Apple (#20090303231, Dec. 10, 2009) and which discusses in great detail a "touch screen device, method and graphical user interface for manipulating three-dimensional virtual objects." If Apple chooses to incorporate some of the features it outlines in this patent filing, it could essentially mean that that user-interaction experience for the iPhone or a potential "Tablet" will be markedly different in some respects than the iPhone interface we're currently using. (The image above is taken from Apple's patent filing.)

According to documents filed with the USPTO, Apple obtained the rights to this patent application from three French citizens: Fabrice Robinet, Thomas Goossens, and Alexandre Moha. The inventors assigned the patent to Apple on Sept. 29, 2008. It's not clear if those citizens are Apple employees, per se. (Update: Actually, Mr. Moha is a product and engineering manager at Apple, per his LinkedIn profile; Mr. Robinet is a software engineer at Apple, again, per LinkedIn, and Mr. Goossens is an Apple software engineer (thanks to Baltimore's Bill Mill for digging up Goossens!) Regardless, searches under Apple's name in the patents database doesn't retrieve this patent, because the names of the original French inventors are still on it. (I wonder why that is? Hmmm. :-)

In patent filings, companies typically lay out a current problem or hurdle in a field of technology which they then propose, to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, that their new innovation will address.

In this case, the patent application states: "...[T]here is a need for electronic devices with touch screen displays that provide more transparent and intuitive user interfaces for navigating in three dimensional virtual spaces and manipulating three dimensional objects in these virtual spaces."

So, what is the essence of this patent filing and Apple's interest in it? Let me try and distill it for you:

*) This patent filing is meant to cover the implementation of three-dimensional image-handling on different types of devices, including multi-touch sensitive tablets.

*) The 3D images, or "virtual objects," that can be generated include an icon, a virtual game object or a virtual game character. Basically, your icons and characters on this device will have a three-dimensional quality in a two-dimensional space, which could lead to novel ways of interacting with the device.

Perhaps this - 3D graphics -- is the future of Apple's interfaces for its portable multi-function devices. What do you think?

 


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:11 AM | | Comments (26)
Categories: *NEWS*, Gadgets, West Coast
        
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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
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