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October 29, 2010

Mt. Everest gets 3G, Internet access

Mt. Everest apparently now has 3G cellular service, meaning climbers can make phone calls and video chats from the peak of the world's tallest mountain above sea level.

Agence France Presse reports that a Swedish telecom set up a 3G phone base station about 17,000 feet up the mountain, and it can cover all the way to the peak.

From the article:

Climbers who reached Everest's 8,848-metre peak previously depended on expensive and erratic satellite phone coverage and a voice-only network set up by China Mobile in 2007 on the Chinese side of the mountain. The installation will also help tens of thousands of tourists and trekkers who visit the Everest region every year.

I don't know how I feel about this. On the one hand, I'm all for digital and internet connectivity. On the other, I hope this doesn't encourage stupid hikers to take unnecessary risks on the belief they could be rescued with a simple phone call at 28,000 feet.


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:22 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

October 28, 2010

News brush fires: From Noxilizer to Salar to Sourcefire

brush_fire_news.jpgI've spent the last couple days with my head down researching a story about the online higher education business. In the meantime, there's been brush fires of local tech news that've broken out, which I'm rounding up in this one blog post. Hit the links if you're curious for more info.

:: Noxilizer, a Catonsville-based biotech startup, raised $6.4 million recently to advance its new sterilization technology for the hospitals and life science manufacturing market. Allen Maurer, over at Tech Journal South, has more details.

:: Salar Inc., of Fells Point, an electronic clinical documentation solutions provider, signed an agreement with PinnacleHealth System, a hospital and health care system in central Pennsylvania, to deliver its software solutions to two of its hospital campuses. Salar's been in business for over 10 years and has some big hospitals as clients, including Johns Hopkins.

:: Sourcefire, a Columbia-based Internet network security company, reported yesterday its highest revenue quarter in company history. Here's the full press release. The company also said its expanding into the next-generation firewall market.


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 2:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

October 26, 2010

ADG gets creative with new headquarters in Columbia

jeff-ADG-creative.JPG

Times are good for ADG|Creative.

The 40-person marketing and communications agency just dropped $3.5 million on a new headquarters in Columbia. The space in Columbia Gateway is 28,000 square feet – double the size of their previous office a quarter-mile away.

The privately-held company has been on a growth spurt the last several years, doubling its staff and reporting annual revenue gains of 15 to 20 percent. It was ready to move to a bigger home.

“We were out of space – we knew we needed to do something,” said Jeff Antkowiak, 44, a communications veteran who founded ADG in 1991 and is its chief creative officer. (That's Jeff in the photo above.) “My interest is producing the best product, and we have the best people. Now we need to give them the best tools to shine.”

ADG builds websites, crafts videos and music, and works on strategic communications campaigns and e-learning technologies for clients. The room for doing all that work had gotten severely constrained recently, company officials said.

Earlier this month, the firm announced two new clients that exemplify the work they do for both the federal government’s defense agencies and for commercial clients.

The U.S. Navy hired ADG to produce training applications that will educate their personnel on better security practices while at sea. And General Growth Properties Inc. hired ADG for strategic brand development work in connection with the Chicago-based company’s holdings in Columbia, which include The Mall.

About half of ADG’s business comes from government clients, and the rest from commercial – a diversification that’s helped during the recession, Antkowiak said. The company has 50 clients on both the government and commercial sides.

“When one is slow, the other seems to be busy enough,” he said.

The new headquarters features glass-enclosed conference rooms, bamboo flooring, a coffee shop called the Creative Café, exposed brick facades and an exercise room. Dedicated rooms allow workers to focus on audio and video production. There is also a secure area for the work ADG does for federal defense clients. ADG is leasing the space from AMB Property Corp.

“I think it’s a great sign to see companies investing money in their future,” said Mark Shapiro, owner of a Baltimore-based commercial real estate brokerage and development company that’s not involved with ADG. “It’s not typical today because financing is so difficult to obtain.”

Antkowiak said the company has 10 open positions, including copywriter and project manager, and is seeking several people with security clearances.

Right now, Antkowiak sees his company getting more involved in incorporating gaming into the work it does for clients. The company has its own staff that can create web-based games that train and educate people.

“Gaming is the next big thing, in my opinion,” Antkowiak said.


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

October 21, 2010

Windows Phone 7: the reviews are coming

samsung%20focus.jpg
Windows Phone 7 mobile handsets are making their ways into the hands of the technology press, and the reviews are dribbling onto the Internet.

For those Microsoft fans who've been waiting to see the software giant's new mobile phone platform, the time is nigh. The phones will debut Nov. 8 on AT&T and T-Mobile. The phones are the Samsung Focus (AT&T) and the HTC HD7 (T-Mobile), both for $199.

Will Microsoft's offering compete with Apple's iPhone, Google's Android and even Research In Motion's BlackBerry?

So far, the reviews seem pretty good, not stellar. But good. The key will be how quickly Microsoft iterates and updates the platform to truly compete with the other heavyweights and attract developers who can build sexy apps for consumers.

Here are a few I've read so far:

* Windows Phone 7 review, Engadget's take, by Joshua Topolsky

* Microsoft's New Windows Phone 7: Novel, But Lacking. By Walt Mossberg, of All Things D and the Wall Street Journal.

* A Windows Phone 7 'review' by a non-reviewer, by Mary-Jo Foley of the All About Microsoft blog.


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:07 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Gadgets, Smartphones
        

October 20, 2010

Apple bringing App Store model to the Mac

Steve Jobs just announced that the Mac desktop computer will get its own App Store. So Mac users will have access to apps in the same way that iPhone users have grown accustomed to downloading apps.

Developers will keep 70 percent of the revenues, while Apple gets the rest -- the same revenue split as the iPhone App Store.

It appears Apple is hoping that the iPhone App Store model will turbo-charge app sales for the Mac. Interesting times. It shows how Apple's mobile experience is influencing its desktop business.


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:58 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Apps
        

You know what's not open? Apple's "live" events

You can't watch Apple's live news events through Internet Explorer, or Firefox or Chrome.

Nope, you need to access the live stream via Safari or an iOS device. There's a live event right now where Apple is unveiling new software and other stuff.

In the realm of mobile platforms, Steve Jobs may take a shot at Android and say that the debate isn't about open/closed systems, but rather, fragmented vs. integrated.

But in the realm of reaching out to Apple's current and future customers -- on whatever platform they may be on -- the fact of the matter is that these Apple events are closed, partisan productions that are pro-Apple all the way.


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:04 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Gadgets
        

Samsung readies iPad competitor for Nov. 11

galaxy-ipad.jpgLooks like the first serious contender to the Apple iPad (far left) will be the Samsung Galaxy tablet (right), which is slated for release Nov. 11.

Here's the skinny: It will be $599 through Verizon, and you can get mobile 3G broadband internet access for $20 a month (no contract lock-in).

It's a 7-inch touch screen device that offers Wi-Fi accessibility, Web browsing and support for Adobe Flash video formats (a common format that the iPad doesn't support.) It offers the latest Android software build, 2.2, as well as a host of Verizon-designed apps for music, video, maps and other services.

It will also have a front and rear facing camera, enabling video chat. It comes in two sizes for storage: 16GB and 32GB, but has a microSD expansion slot that can take another 32GB card.

Compare this to Apple's larger 9.7 inch iPad, which starts at $499 for a Wi-Fi only version and $629 for a Wi-Fi+3G version. The iPad doesn't have a front or rear facing camera, and no microSD expansion slot for adding memory.

But many expect that Apple's next iPad version will have at least a front and rear facing camera, among other new attributes, in its next release next year.

The question for some will be how well the Android OS works on a 7-inch tablet form factor, because reportedly even Google, maker of Android, says the 2.2 version isn't suitable for tablets. The iPad also has a bigger, more mature ecosystem of apps for users to choose from, at 250,000+, compared with Android's 90,000.

The other hurdle may be psychological. The entry level price point of $599 is, well, not $499. Average consumers could convince themselves to spend "under $500" for an iPad... but $600 leaves the realm of "excited impulse buy" and ventures into "Is it worth it" land.

Here's a good spec-by-spec comparison of the Galaxy vs. the iPad.


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:59 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Gadgets
        

Apple event today: "Back to the Mac"

Check Apple's website around 1 pm Eastern/10 am Pacific for a live video feed of the company's "Back to the Mac" press event. Unfortunately, you can only watch the live video on a Safari browser or an iOS (iPhone, Touch) device.

(Sheesh -- get OVER yourselves, Apple. Make it available through other browsers. So lame.)

Rumors about that the company will release updates to its ultra-thin MacBook Air laptop computer and its iLife software suite -- and maybe even preview a new operating system, allegedly called "Lion." Boy Genius Report, a tech site, also did some sleuthing and discovered that Apple's own discussion forums had been prepared for several new products, including a mystery one.

Apple events are closely watched by geeks around the world, partly because the company -- and its CEO Steve Jobs -- can keep secrets pretty well and put on a good show when it's time to release products. Apparently bookmakers have started placing odds on what will be announced. This is too much.



back-to-the-mac.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 10:38 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*, Gadgets
        

UN agency: worldwide internet use doubles, mobile taking off in developing countries

indianmonk.jpgThe International Telecommunication Union, a part of the United Nations that focuses on worldwide technology development, said yesterday that internet adoption had doubled in the last five years, while mobile phones were ubiquitous in 90 percent of the world's population.

Clearly, the Internet is huge. But mobile voice and broadband may be huge-r.

Much of the rapid growth in Internet and mobile phone adoption is happening in the developing world, the ITU found. For instance:

"ITU’s new data indicate that among the estimated 5.3 billion mobile subscriptions by the end of 2010, 3.8 billion will be in the developing world."

Most telling is that in the last five years, the growth of mobile broadband has skyrocketed. Subscriptions to 3G phone services climbed from 72 million in 2005 to 940 million this year.

As many as 143 countries now offer 3G services, compared with 95 countries three years ago. [Here's the original news release with more facts and figures.]

 

[Photo of Hindu monk on cell phone via here and the W3.]


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

October 19, 2010

The Dead Sea Scrolls get Googled

According to this Reuters report and this AP report, the Israel Antiquities Authority and Google are teaming up to make digitized copies of the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls available online.

The scrolls have been seen mainly only by scholars, but digitizing them and making them available online will allow for a wider world audience to see them. Digitizing them will also help preserve them, since the originals won't have to be exposed as often.

From Wikipedia:

The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 documents, including texts from the Hebrew Bible, discovered between 1946 and 1956 in eleven caves in and around the ruins of the ancient settlement of Khirbet Qumran on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea in the West Bank.

The texts are of great religious and historical significance, as they include the oldest known surviving copies of Biblical and extra-biblical documents and preserve evidence of great diversity in late Second Temple Judaism. They are written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, mostly on parchment, but with some written on papyrus.[1] These manuscripts generally date between 150 BCE and 70 CE.[2] The scrolls are traditionally identified with the ancient Jewish sect called the Essenes, though some recent interpretations have challenged this association and argue that the scrolls were penned by priests in Jerusalem, Zadokites, or other unknown Jewish groups.[3][4]

And here's an interesting video about the Scrolls:


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:12 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas
        

Print Facebook photos at Target

In case you didn't know, Target now has Kodak kiosks that allow you to connect to Facebook and print photos from your online photo albums.

Here's the news release on the Target/Kodak/Facebook collaboration.

This is cool. But why doesn't Facebook also offer a way to print photos through an integrated online service and have them shipped to you for a nominal price? It would probably be a decent revenue generator for Facebook, which apparently gets 3 billion photos uploaded each month, making it -- I believe -- the top photo-sharing site on the Web.



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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:18 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

Intel investing up to $8 billion in U.S. chip plants

Here's some good news for the nation's high-tech economy:

Computer chip maker Intel is investing up to $8 billion to update and add capacity to its manufacturing plants in Oregon and Arizona. The move will create more than 6,000 construction jobs and more than 800 permanent jobs at the plants.

VentureBeat has the story.


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:17 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

Burying the negative: How to deal with unwanted Internet search results

NPR's All Things Considered had a report today about how companies are paying search engine experts to help them "bury" negative sites on the Web deep in search results.

Here's the link to the story.

At the heart of the issue, I think, is how much control a company -- or an individual -- has and should have over defending their online reputation. On the one hand, you want legitimate criticisms and observations to be found in search results. On the other hand, however, everyone knows that the Internet can be a haven for trolls and unfair negative comments.

The story is in the context of companies and politicians managing their online reputations, but as more of us lead increasingly "open" lives online, don't be surprised if you one day have to figure out a way to manage some negative feedback that keeps popping up on Google.

How do you deal with that?


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:51 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

October 18, 2010

Data-thirsty smartphones lead wireless companies to prep 4G networks

baltimore_ATT_4G.jpg

Many consumers today use a 3G, or third-generation, wireless network to make calls, watch streaming video, use maps and access the Internet – all on their mobile phones.

But now, to keep up with demand, major wireless providers are pouring billions of dollars into their networks to upgrade them to a new, faster, fourth-generation service known as LTE, for Long Term Evolution. For many of these companies, Baltimore will be among the first areas in the country to get a taste of 4G, possibly by the end of this year.

Several companies are using Baltimore as a pilot city for their roll-out of 4G networks, mainly because the city offers a mix of demographics, landscapes, building architecture and waterways. AT&T and Verizon are both building 4G networks in Baltimore. Another little-known but well-funded competitor, LightSquared, has raised more than $2 billion to build a combination satellite-LTE network. It plans to launch in Baltimore and three other cities next summer.

“I would say we’re at the very early stages” of 4G LTE networks, said Christian Dippon, vice president and telecommunications expert with NERA Economic Consulting, a global research firm.


The companies will bring competition to a Baltimore wireless market whose sole fourth-generation wireless broadband offering right now is from Clearwire, a Seattle-based company that uses a different technology standard, known as WiMax.

Clearwire, which sells its service in Baltimore under the Clear brand name, starts at $50 a month for home and mobile service. At least one phone from its partner, Sprint, can access the 4G network for Internet data service. Clearwire has rolled out its 4G offering to dozens of U.S. cities, though it is also considering switching to LTE technology.

It could be several years before consumers can take full advantage of 4G networks, as cell phone manufacturers will have to develop mobile devices with new internal communications hardware, according to industry analysts. The adoption of 3G in the U.S. has been slower than anticipated, with less than 30 percent of consumers using the technology, according to a July study by NERA’s Dippon.

For the next few years at least, big companies like AT&T and Verizon will likely offer consumers a mix of 3G and 4G services. Consumer pricing for 4G services is not yet available from the carriers.

“4G will be a complement service, not a substitute,” Dippon said. He said the approach most carriers will take will be to offer Internet data services over 4G, while keeping voice communications on 3G networks.

Verizon is furthest along in the race. It plans to roll out 4G service in 38 markets by the end of this year, covering about 110 million people, plus 60 airports – including BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. The buildout involves installing new hardware on the company’s cell towers.

Initially, Verizon’s 4G network will offer data services to consumers – such as 4G mobile broadband modems for use in laptops -- and voice calling will eventually follow in mobile devices that can tap both the 3G and 4G networks. The company expects download speeds to be in the range of five to 12 megabits per second – several times faster than 3G download speeds.

“This 4G network is a complete overhaul for us,” said Jim Haskins, a Verizon Wireless vice president and regional director of business data sales for the Baltimore area.

AT&T Wireless is testing LTE in Baltimore and Dallas this year and plans to cover more than 70 million people by the end of next year. Download speeds for the 3G network, after a planned upgrade this year, will top 7 megabits per second – and its 4G LTE service will be even faster, according to AT&T.

In the meantime, AT&T continues to pour millions billions of dollars into upgrading its 3G network, because it will continue to see high use from subscribers. The company has been the exclusive carrier of Apple’s iPhone, whose users consume a lot of bandwidth on the 3G network.

“It’s going to take 4G several years to really scale,” said Mark Siegel, an AT&T Wireless spokesman. “We will continue investing in our 3G network. We’re doing both at the same time.”

Both Verizon and AT&T may see competition from a new player on the block: Reston, Va.-based LightSquared Inc. LightSquared plans on rolling out a new 4G network that uses both satellite and LTE wireless cell tower technology to deliver phone and data services to consumers’ mobile devices.

But the company won’t be selling directly to consumers – or competing directly with telecom carriers for customers. Instead, it is pursuing a wholesale model where it strikes deals with third parties who want to sell their own wireless broadband plans to their consumers.

If LightSquared’s plans come to fruition, consumers could see pitches to buy wireless plans from big-box retailers, large websites, or even computer and mobile device manufacturers. The model could threaten traditional wireless operators, such as Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.

LightSquared thinks it has an advantage because the phones that use its service will be able to communicate via satellite, and not just a land-based cellular tower system. That means consumers who are on the LightSquared network will theoretically always have a signal.

“What the satellite capability gives you is 100 percent coverage in the United States,” said Tom Surface, a LightSquared spokesman.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Liz Hacken at 12:53 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Big Ideas, Smartphones, Wireless
        

October 14, 2010

Apple iPad coming to Verizon Wireless

verizon_ipad.jpgBig news for fans of Verizon's wireless network: It'll be getting the Apple iPad starting Oct. 28. You'll be able to buy the iPad at 2,000 Verizon Wireless stores nationwide. (Is this the precursor to Verizon getting the iPhone next year, as recent reports suggest?)

Interestingly, consumers won't have access to the iPad 3G. Instead, if you want one from Verizon, you could buy an iPad Wi-Fi version plus a Verizon MiFi mobile hotspot. The hotspot uses Verizon's 3G network and generates a Wi-Fi hotspot that you can then use the iPad with. From the press release:

Verizon Wireless will offer three bundles, all featuring an iPad Wi-Fi model and a Verizon MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot, for a suggested retail price of $629.99 for iPad Wi-Fi 16GB + MiFi, $729.99 for iPad Wi-Fi 32GB + MiFi and $829.99 for iPad Wi-Fi 64GB + MiFi. Verizon Wireless is offering a monthly access plan to iPad customers of up to 1GB of data for just $20 a month. In addition, Verizon Wireless will also offer all three iPad Wi-Fi models on a stand-alone basis.

It just so happens that Oct. 28 is the same day that the iPad will go on sale at AT&T stores, too. There, you can buy the 3G model with an AT&T monthly service plan.

There have also been reports of the iPad going on sale at Wal-Mart, Target and even Sam's Club. Gee, you think Apple's doing a big push for the holidays? Ya' think?

[Thanks TiPB]


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:09 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

October 13, 2010

Annapolis company's tech used in Chilean miner rescue

Zephyr of Annapolis makes gear that people wear so that their vital signs can be monitored remotely.

One of their products, the BioHarness, has been worn by the trapped Chilean miners to monitor their heart rate, breathing and other vital signs for the past couple weeks.

Zephyr's products have applications in first responder scenarios, defense and military, and research and training. Below is a photo of the BioHarness worn by the Chilean miners:

bioharness_bluetooth.jpg


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:31 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Gadgets, Wireless
        

CashFlow: some startups that raised cash

dollar-sign.jpgHere's the latest edition of CashFlow, my weekly spotlight on some technology companies across the country that raised money for their ventures:

* Care.com: This Waltham, Mass.-based company raised $20 million, in a funding round led by New Enterprise Associates. Care.com provides an online site for people to find caregivers for children, adults, seniors and pets.

* Microstaq: This Austin, Tex.-based company raised $10.2 million and is seeking to raise another $8.4 million. It makes electronic fluid control technology that "reduces energy consumption in air conditioning systems by up to 25 percent."

* Philo Media Corp.: This New York City-based firm raised $1 million. It's a website that allows TV watchers to tap into their social networks and share and talk about what they're watching. Like Foursquare, you get "rewarded" for your participation on the site.

* Glowpoint Inc.: This Hillside, NJ company raised $1 million. The company offers telepresence and video conferencing services for businesses looking to save money on meetings and travel.

* Quick Hit Inc.: This Foxborough, Mass.-based company raised $2.5 million. It built an online, NFL-backed football game, which integrates with social networks. (Anybody play with it?)


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:50 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Startups, Venture Cap
        

October 12, 2010

Baltimore startup Videntity wins $10K prize

videntity.gifA Baltimore startup named Videntity, which is based in Canton, won a $10,000 prize last week in connection with a software developer challenge in San Diego.

Videntity, which is run by Alan C. Viars, won the prize from the West Wireless Health Institute, a nonprofit medical research organization that's promoting the application of wireless technology in health care. [Full press release]

For the contest, Viars' company integrated consumer devices that generate real-time health data, such as a Wii balance board, with a social network (Facebook). In short, Viars created a demo where you can step on a Wii and it uploads your weight to the Internet.

And he also made a Facebook app for walkers to share their pedometer data with their Facebook friends. Viars, a computer scientist, has developed an open-source framework that enables medical devices and communication devices to communicate with each other. (I.e. a blood pressure monitor that can text message your reading? Viars has figured out how to do that.)

The implications of making this technology possible are vast. People -- and companies and even our government -- could start to use this new technology in social gaming tied to their health, nutrition and dieting efforts.

Viars is also taking advantage of an effort in health care information systems to give people and patients more access and control over their own health data.

From a health care and healthy living perspective, "the government and managed care providers are very interested in behavior change from a cost saving perspective," Viars told me.

The good news about Viars' work so far is that it's all open source, meaning that other software developers can take his programs and start to build their own applications with it.


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 9:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Startups
        

October 11, 2010

The Microsoft Phones: Here they come

windows_phone7.jpg
Microsoft today unveiled a bunch of smartphones from different manufacturers that will operate on its Windows Phone 7 mobile platform.

This, my friends, is exciting news in the smartphone wars. Many of us are eager to see how Microsoft's smartphone platform stacks up against Apple's iPhone and Google's Android and RIM's BlackBerry. The showdown is coming.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft "unveiled seven handsets planned for its global launch. Marquee partner AT&T Inc. showed off three of the devices, the Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. Focus, the LG Electronics Inc. Quantum, and the HTC Corp. Surround, which are priced at $199.99 with a two-year service contract. They will go on sale during the week of Nov. 8."

T-Mobile will also be launching a Windows Phone 7 device.

C-NET reports there are nine Windows Phone 7 devices that will hit the United States. CNET's article contrasts the iPhone, which is one device, to the Microsoft approach, which will offer a common software platform for multiple phones to use.

Microsoft's buzz phrase for the platform is "always delightful and wonderfully mine," which is meant to convey that it offers an environment that's "highly customizable yet uncluttered and stitched together with a common feel," according to CNET.

We'll see if Microsoft can pull it off.

At least one analyst quoted by the WSJ is skeptical: "We don't see any dazzle that would pull customers to the phone immediately," said Dazhi Chen, an analyst at Tribeca Insights. "By the first quarter of next year, it'll probably be forgotten."

OUCH.


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:10 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Smartphones
        

The Google Car: Look Ma, no hands...or feet!

Google is apparently very far along in testing an automated car, one that drives itself using artificial intelligence software.

This is science fiction brought to life, folks. The NY Times has a detailed story on the topic. The pilot project has logged 140,000 miles with the small fleet of Toyota Priuses they've outfitted with the technology -- and no accidents, except for "when one Google car was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light," according to the Times piece.

Much of what's been written about Google's research on this so far has been cast in somewhat altruistic terms -- Google wants to help prevent or eliminate the 37,000 annual driving deaths.

But beyond that, if Google can make the car work without direct human intervention, that frees up millions of hours every day for drivers on their long commutes to do what? That's right: SURF THE INTERNET. And the more people surf and search on the Web, the more Google makes money.

The car could truly become the next living room, on wheels.

TechCrunch has some more details and video footage, including this piece:


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:29 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

October 8, 2010

Baltimore geeks rock TechNite, win awards, network to exhaustion and decimate food and bar

technite_scene.JPG

Baltimore's annual celebration of all things tech, hosted by the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, seemed to be a very good time for all last night. TechNite was at a new rockin' venue, Rams Head Live in downtown Baltimore; it featured great food and an open bar; and the networking seemed to be in full swing.

I popped in for a couple hours to catch up with some of the companies and shoot some pics and video of the scene. Three companies were highlighted for having the "hottest tech in town":

* 1st place: Oculis Labs

* 2nd Place: Direct Dimensions

* 3rd Place: Gloto

The award for Baltimore's Extraordinary Technology Advocate went to Tom Loveland, CEO of Mind Over Machines and Baltimore's "Google Czar," who is guiding the city's application for the Google Fiber for Communities project. He courteously highlighted the other competitors for the award -- Mike Subelsky, Newt Fowler, Christian Johansson (DBED secretary) and Dave Troy -- and even threw out a bunch of new names in the city's tech community to watch out for in coming years. Watch the video below:

And last but not least, some more photos. The GBTC's Interim Executive Director Jen Gunner on stage:

technite_gunner.JPG



And the oyster shucker booth. These tech geeks sure know how to eat well, eh?

technite_oyster.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 11:39 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events (Baltimore area)
        

October 7, 2010

CashFlow: Who's getting pumped with cash

I'd like to start a new, occasional feature for BaltTech called CashFlow, where I'll list the technology startups from around the country that have recently raised significant amounts of financing, according to the Form D's they file with the SEC.

It won't be an exhaustive, complete list of companies -- just a selection of those I find interesting every couple days. Here goes:

* Grandparents.com LLC -- A website for grandparents, parents and grandkids, recently raised $868,000. It's based in New York.

* PixSpree -- Founded in 2010 in California, this startup so far only has a one page website, and raised $100,000. The company "works with a network of top online content publishers turning rich media into shopping opportunities by matching clothes and accessories in the images with actual products." (I wish they had a demonstration of what they did on their site.)

* Social Stay LLC -- This California company also has a one-page website, but it also offers a well-made video on what they do. They're a platform for hospitality industry companies who are seeking to offer advertising and marketing messages through mobile phones. They've raised $100,000 and are seeking to raise another $200,000.

* PopTent -- This California company -- with offices in Pennsylvania -- has just raised some serious cash: $6.8 million. They've got a network of over 20,000 creative filmmakers/producers who "are connecting to each other and to companies that want to pay them for their talents." (Interesting biz model, I think.)

* Graphic.ly -- For comic book fans, a Colorado company that provides "an immersive social experience and marketplace around digital comics and associated merchandise," according to its Twitter. It raised $1.3 million.


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 11:19 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers
        

October 6, 2010

Apple giving Verizon the iPhone next year: report

The Wall Street Journal is reporting through anonymous sources (because Steve Jobs would otherwise obliterate them) that Verizon will "begin mass producing a new iPhone by the end of 2010 that would allow Verizon Wireless to sell the smartphone early next year."

Here's the short story.

I'm a little surprised by this news, since rumors of this happening have been struck down in the past. But maybe Apple is spooked by the growth of Google's Android platform. It's also odd since Verizon and AT&T are starting to work on their 4G LTE networks, in Baltimore, D.C. and elsewhere. From a Verizon press release that hit my inbox at 2:12 p.m. today:

Verizon announced today that it is bringing the world’s first large-scale 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network to the DC and Baltimore metropolitan areas. The initial availability of a 4G LTE wireless network is part of the company’s major network launch in 38 major metropolitan areas by the end of the year. In addition, the company is launching 4G LTE in more than 60 commercial airports coast to coast – including the airports within the launch areas, plus airports in other key cities.


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 2:15 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: *NEWS*, Smartphones
        

TechNite pre-roundup, courtesy of Rob Terry

Here's a fine post from the Daily Record's Rob Terry talking about the Greater Baltimore Technology Council's annual TechNite (tomorrow night), and some changes to the event people can expect, i.e. new venue (Ram's Head Live!)

Check it out! http://mddailyrecord.com/maryland-business/2010/10/06/technite-and-tech-stuff-for-greater-baltimore/


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 11:20 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events (Baltimore area)
        

citybizlist , growing e-newsletter based in Baltimore, raising $350,000

citybizlist_baltimore.jpgOne of the young media outlets on the Baltimore market is citybizlist, a feisty, information-rich e-newsletter that tracks business deals, investments and the commercial real estate market.

The company was founded in 2007 by Edwin Warfield, former owner of the Daily Record, a business and legal newspaper in Baltimore. citybizlist has expanded now to offer its business newsletters in 11 markets, mostly on the East Coast.

The privately held company, which is based in Fells Point, also disclosed yesterday in a Form D SEC filing that it had raised $200,000 of a total planned $350,000 round of equity financing.

What's interesting to note is that citybizlist disclosed in the Form D that its revenues were between $1 million and $5 million. Not bad for an email newsletter company that seems to be ramping up its business.

I shot Warfield some questions about how his company was doing and how it would use the money and below is his response:

Citybizlist will use the additional funding to expand content, hire editors, recruit account executives, increase the number of cities and develop more technology. In May, citybizlist appointed Richard Rabicoff Executive Editor. http://baltimore.citybizlist.com/yourcitybiznews/detail.aspx?id=83994

In June, we hired two seasoned online business executives - Jennifer Heinlein and Karen Rossbottom. http://baltimore.citybizlist.com/yourcitybiznews/detail.aspx?id=80510

Earlier this year, Google and Yahoo started crawling our content which has resulted in a 352% increase in traffic, year to date. This dramatic increase in web traffic has resulted in an 86% growth in advertising between Q1 and Q2.

New advertisers include: UMUC, Advance Business Systems, Merritt Properties, St. John Properties, Baker Tilley, BGE, WindCurrent.

An example of one of our technology partnerships is Gigya. Gigya has socially optimized citybizlist, making it easier to share content on LinkedIn and Facebook. http://baltimore.citybizlist.com/yourcitybiznews/detail.aspx?id=79881


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 10:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

October 5, 2010

Baltimore data trove could spur new apps for citizens

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Imagine if our government made raw data — from crime trends to building permits to contract spending — freely available on the Web.

That's starting to happen. Washington, D.C., was a front-runner a couple years ago in making such information available, through http://data.dc.gov, and other cities have followed its lead. Another site, USASpending.gov, parses government spending at the federal level. And now, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration says it soon expects to offer a trove of data —for free — through a city Web portal.

What can citizens and technology enthusiasts do with huge chunks of Baltimore data? Just look at what's been done in Washington, D.C. Web developers there have built dozens of Web and mobile phone applications, including an app for the iPhone and Facebook that allows people to make and track 311 calls; an app that combines bike maps and crime data; and another that helps drivers find parking spots.

Ryan O'Doherty, a spokesman for Rawlings-Blake, said that the idea for making city data available through a Web portal came up a couple months ago and that the mayor gave the city's information technology department the job of developing the project.

“We're looking to Washington, D.C., as a model,” O'Doherty said.
Baltimore officials are still debating what data to release, but it could range from planning department to police department information. A launch date has not been set for the Baltimore Web data portal, but it is expected to go live this year.

What Web and mobile phone applications would you like to see designed using Baltimore data? I asked this question last week on my blog, BaltTech, and got some interesting responses.

Commenter Steve said he would like to see an application that tracks the prices of steamed and live crabs at crab houses across the region.

Commenter Hilzoy would like to see an “app that lets you report problems (potholes, graffiti, etc.), e-mail a picture in to go with it, track your request, etc.” — essentially a 311 mobile app. Hilzoy also noted that a “traffic app would be nice, as would a bus/subway/light rail schedule and map app.”

Commenter Andrew Hazlett wondered if the video feeds from the city's hundreds of blue-light police surveillance cameras could be made available online and through an app.

John Marsh, interactive director of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED), said governments should recognize the importance of mobile phone applications and move to provide information through them to citizens.

Marsh’s ideas include a daily budget and spending tracker application, a crime-mapping application based on a user's location, and a parking app that shows citizens where tickets are most likely to be issued.

He said DBED itself could benefit from a mapping and commercial real estate application that would allow businesses interested in moving to Maryland, or relocating within Maryland, to review available opportunities.

One of my own ideas is an application that would show new construction and permitting across the city. Or how about an app that tracks formation of new businesses and their locations?

Another app could help track housing code enforcement and allow citizens to file complaints easily.

Keep the ideas coming! Post more below!


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 9:15 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Apps, Big Ideas
        

October 4, 2010

David Simon not the only genius grant winner from Baltimore last week

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David Simon, of The Wire and Homicide fame (and a former Sun reporter), won the big kahuna last week -- a MacArthur "Genius" award, which carried with it a $500,000 prize.

Okay, so maybe the Gigabit Genius Grant, which is based in Philadelphia, doesn't yet yet have the same punch as a MacArthur-frickin'-Foundation-genius award, but it's notable for Baltimore.

Here's why: A team of city geeks formed a grassroots effort called Bmore Fiber, to mobile the city's technology and entrepreneurial stakeholders to compete for the Google Fiber for Communities Project. Google wants to build a next-generation super-high-speed fiber-optic network in an American city or two, and there are many who want Baltimore to be one of them. (I've written a lot about this effort this year.)

In the meantime, the folks behind Bmore Fiber decided to use the hard work they pulled together for the Google Fiber effort to enter a competition in Philadelphia.

And, THEY WON.

Let me reiterate: a tech contest created in Philadelphia was won by a bunch of geeks from Baltimore. Before you're quick to gloat, major kudos to the tech community in Philly for thinking regionally/globally. (Another winner was an Israeli entrepreneur.)

Pretty darn cool, eh?


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 3:30 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

Google TV wants to rock your living room

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Google released more information today about Google TV, their attempt to marry Web content (video, social media, etc.) to that big flat-panel TV you wish you could do more with in your living room.

It's basically a big tease, meant to get geeks like you and me salivating about channeling Internet content -- and apps! -- through your TV. But can Google and its partners deliver a software/hardware experience that makes Internet-on-your-TV a fun and effortless experience. (There are two ways to get Google TV: 1) through a TV specially built with Google TV inside or 2) through a small Google TV box you plug into your TV set.)

That's the thing about my TV now -- all I need is .001 percent of my brain cells to operate it. I turn to my TV when I want something completely brainless to do. All I have to say, Google, is that you better make Google TV as dumb-proof as possible.

Don't make me think!

That said, I must admit, I'm feeling the tech-lust organ in my body starting to tingle (it's right next to my spleen, folks)... Google TV is starting to look sweeter and sweeter. Let's hope it lives up to the mounting hype.


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 3:01 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, For The Home, Gadgets, Web Dev & Apps
        

Vote for Baltimore's Extraordinary Technology Advocate (BETA)

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On Thursday, the Greater Baltimore Technology Council's TechNite will be held at Ram's Head Live in Baltimore. For the uninitiated, TechNite is the annual "who's who" event of the technology community in the greater Baltimore area, with guest speakers and presentations and awards doled out in abundance. 

If you can go, it's a good place to meet technologists and entrepreneurs and get a feel for those who are moving and shaking and aspiring in Baltimore's technology scene. Yes, indeed, there is a scene here, folks.

One of the new TechNite features this year is the inaugural Baltimore's Extraordinary Technology Advocate (BETA) 2.0 Award -- for the "individual who supports and moves forward the growth and success of the technology community in our region, while continuously connecting people and technology." 

The BETA 2.0 Finalists are:

newt_fowler.jpg• Newt Fowler, Partner, Rosenberg, Martin, Greenberg LLP. Newt loves working with startups and entrepreneurs.

 

johansson.jpg• Christian Johansson, Secretary, Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development. The secretary is a big promoter of the region's tech entrepreneurs.

 

• loveland.jpg Tom Loveland, CEO, Mind Over Machines. Tom is Baltimore's "Google Czar" for the Google Fiber project.

 

subelsky.jpg• Mike Subelsky, works at OtherinBox.com. Mike is the founder of Ignite Baltimore, a hugely successful speaker series that brings together Baltimore's technology, design and media communities.

 

dave_troy.jpg• David Troy, President, Roundhouse Technologies. Dave is doing everything from investing in local startups, to building big tech-related events, to working with city leaders on technology initiatives.

Anybody can vote for one of these finalists at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/26M5XVS

For information about the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, visit: http://www.gbtechcouncil.org.


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 2:12 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Events (Baltimore area)
        

October 1, 2010

Balto-Brainstorm: What Baltimore-specific app would you design?

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app_baltimore.PNGIf you check out Apple's App Store for iPhone apps and search for "Baltimore," you'll find some news apps, Ravens apps, event apps and map apps. (See left.) There's already a Happy Hour app.

The Baltimore Sun has some interesting applications, such as a recently released iPhone app and this homicide map (which I incidentally helped create a few years ago.)

They're all good. But are they enough? No. Can Baltimore do better? Um, yes.

I'm inviting you to share your list of apps you'd like to see for Baltimore, here on BaltTech. They could be apps for cellphones, the Web or Facebook. Whatever platform you choose, the only requirement is that they be ABOUT Baltimore.

Is there city data you'd like to have access to on your phone? How about being able to file or review the status of 311 requests with your phone? Or geo-locating crime, based on your GPS position using your phone, wherever you happen to be walking or driving. How about data about our schools or neighborhoods?

Post your app idea for Baltimore in the comments below and it may end up in a future BaltTech column in the newspaper! The first five commenters get a free BaltTech magnet shipped to them!! (just shoot me your snail-mail address at gus.sentementes@baltsun.com, and I'll drop one in the mail for 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 3:13 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: *NEWS*
        

UPDATE: Baltimore IS working on an open data portal

UPDATE: The previous headline of this post was "Baltimore is CRAZY for not opening up its data and encouraging app development (cc: Mayor Rawlings-Blake)." But I've gotten word from the mayor's office this afternoon that, based on citizen feedback, the city IS indeed working on an open-data portal for city data. So take everything I say below as background on the topic. Hooray Baltimore!

 

 

What apps would you like to see for Baltimore?

Did you know that Washington DC has a contest called "Apps for Democracy," which awards prizes who use data from DC government to build useful Web, mobile and Facebook apps? The contest yielded dozens of apps and saved the city money.

The folks who run it are sharing how they did it with the world. Peter Corbett, founder of iStrategy Labs in D.C., which created the contest, said it's been adopted in about 20 places around the world.

See the graphic below:
Apps-for-Democracy.png
Can Baltimore do something similar?

Mike Brenner thinks so. Mike is a web developer and runs the new blog, Startup Baltimore. He's put out a call to do a similar "Apps for Democracy" contest in Baltimore.

Our political and business leaders should take Brenner's call-to-arms seriously. From Brenner's blog post:

Other cities caught wind of this incredible venture and started planning their own versions of the open-data app contest. New York City and its mayor Michael Bloomberg launched NYC BigApps, powered by the NYC.gov Data Mine. It initially cost the city $20,000 and returned 85 apps with an estimated value of return of $4.25 million. Again, an almost incalculable ROI of 21,150%. California has recently launched a similar statewide competition dubbing it as “The Great Data Gold Rush”. One of the most noteworthy outcomes of California’s open-data initiative has been an app that uses San Francisco’s 311 API to create service requests from Twitter via TweetMy311.org.

What does Baltimore need to get started? First, our city government needs to make a wide range of data publicly available, so that developers can tap into it. Washington DC did it with their data catalog.

Corbett said that the technology is relatively easy to set up. And he pointed out that Baltimore was one of the first cities in the country pioneer a "Comstat"-type system of data reporting for its police department and other government agencies, under Mayor Martin O'Malley.

The data is there -- we just need to turn it on for public access.

"I don't know why the city wouldn't want to publish data openly in the way that DC does," Corbett told me. "It really shouldn't be a political issue. Citizens and hackers aren't making government officials look bad. They're building apps to help citizens."

 What do you think? Do you support Baltimore City's opening of public data feeds for the development of Web and mobile apps for citizens?


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 11:18 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Apps
        

Happy Hour Baltimore: the app that helps you find post-work nirvana

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happyhour_1.PNGThere's a new app in Baltimore that is targeting the city's bars and restaurants, and the happy hour deals they're offering.

It's called Happy Hour Baltimore, and it's available for free in the Apple App Store. (The creators are working on an Android version.) Here's its website.

The two guys behind the app are Brian Champlin and Tom Camposano, who got the idea about a year ago while lounging in hammocks at Camposano's home in Southeast Baltimore.

After a year of development, planning and investment (the guys pumped in about $20K to get the app and website off the ground), they launched it about three weeks ago.

The app does a couple things well. It allows you to browse a map of the city with bars and restaurants that offering specials.

It enables each establishment to post up-to-the-minute offers and deals through the "dispatch" section.

It can connect you with a taxi cab (Raven, Yellow or Blue cab companies) by phone.

And it allows you to share these happy hour spots with friends on Facebook and Twitter, or by email.

 

"Even the old school baltimore bars that have been there forever, even those guys are going for it," Champlin said. "They get to pull in some of the younger crowd."

Now, what's most impressive, in my book, is that Champlin and Camposano have hammered out a nifty business model. For $250 a year (introductory offer), a restaurant/bar can be included in the app, and they get access to the Dispatch section. That means each restaurateur or bar owner can control the message he/she wants to put out through this app.

This is smart on two levels: it gives the establishment full editorial control over the advertising content they're putting out to consumers. And it means Champlin and Camposano don't have to have a staff manually inputting new happy hour information into the app every day or week.

Right now though, the tough part for the pair, whose business is called Dilly Dally Apps, is getting the word out on the app to establishments and to iPhone users. It's a marketing challenge. So far, they've gotten about 70 bars and restaurants as subscribers (which is pretty good so far, I'd say) and hope to break even this year, and turn a profit next year.

"We basically are in the process of covering the entire city on foot and showing them the app, and selling bars and restaurants on the service," Champlin said. So how'd they build the app and website? Champlin tells me that he and his partner don't have much web design/programming experience, so they hired to computer/Web geeks to build the iPhone app and the website. (Geeks make the world go round.)

Word of mouth works, especially in Baltimore, where people who love this city can be quite chatty. I first learned about the app from following The Falls, a Mt. Washington restaurant on Facebook. That restaurant (full disclosure: which is owned by some friends of mine) put out to their Facebook followers that they were offering specials through the Happy Hour Baltimore iPhone app. Smalltimore. :-) 

happyhour_3.PNG happyhour_2.PNG


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 9:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Apps, Smartphones, Social Media, Web Dev & Apps
        
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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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