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December 21, 2010

Dutch company offers $1.1 billion for Columbia-based Martek Biosciences

Royal DSM N.V., a Dutch life and materials sciences company, today made a $1.1 billion cash offer for Martek Biosciences Corp. of Columbia in a deal that represents a 35 percent premium over its stock.

Board members from both companies have approved the acquisition of Martek, a company that was founded in Maryland 25 years ago by a group of scientists who spun off from the Martin Marietta Corp.

The purchase is based on a 35 percent premium of Martek's closing price of $23.36 on Monday. Royal DSM said it would pay $31.50 per share for the company. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of next year.

Martek is a leading provider of infant nutritional supplements and has recently begun expanding the scope of its additives to other categories of products, such as dietary supplements and salad and sub dressings at the Quizno's restaurant chain.

The company produces docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, from algal sources, which has been approved for use in infant formula by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The additive is found in about 99 percent of infant formula in the U.S., Martek claims.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:59 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

December 15, 2010

Google Fiber announcement delayed

Google today said that their Fiber for Communities project winner(s) won't be announced till early next year.

The search giant had hoped to name a community to be the recipient of a massive pilot project where up to 500,000 people would be given access to ultra-high-speed broadband connectivity. But apparently the huge turnout overwhelmed even Google's capacity to pick a winner (or winners).

Baltimore was one of about 1,100 communities across the country (and among several in Maryland) who had applied for the project. There was a groundswell of populist support for Baltimore to organize and make a pitch for the project -- see the Bmore Fiber website.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:33 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg: Time's Person of the Year

zuckerberg-time-cover.jpgTime came out with its annual person of the year today and, in my view, gave the honor to a worthy but "safe" choice: Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook.

Zuckerberg's Facebook is worth billions on paper and, as the article notes, has wired together a twelfth of humanity around the globe. This is truly a remarkable accomplishment.

Forget the notion of "Facebook Nation" -- we're talking "Facebook Planet."

Zuckerberg has also been lauded for his huge donation -- $100 million -- to New Jersey schools. And the entrepreneur has pledged to give away even more of his fortune.

Anyhow, I say it was the safe choice because there was a huge push in the popular voting to name Julian Assange, founder of secrets-spilling website Wikileaks, as the Person of the Year for Time.

In the readers' choice category, Assange came in first, while Zuckerberg came in tenth.

Should Assange been Time's Person of the Year? He and his website have shined a light on government activity across the world, including ours in the U.S.

His work is bringing to a head issues of free speech and freedom of the press in the face of disclosure of classified documents.

Interesting aside: supporters of Wikileaks congregate at a Facebook page, where more than 1.3 million people are fans. Perhaps Zuck and Assange should have been co-Persons of the Year?

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:43 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

December 14, 2010

Report: Microsoft to demo new tablets at Consumer Electronics Show

The New York Times tells us, courtesy of anonymous sources, that Microsoft will demo more slates next month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

One of the new tablets will have a slide-out keyboard and will be geared toward people who want to be more productive on their laptops -- taking a shot at Apple's iPad, which many believe isn't ideal for productivity. Though I feel fairly productive with it -- but if I'm looking for more productivity, I'd rather sit at a desktop or a big laptop.

I think the tablet concept requires you to wrap your mind around the fact that it may not be ideal for ALL uses, but very good for certain uses.

Anyhow, at the last CES, Microsoft's Steve Balmer demoed its Windows-based HP Slate. But that ended up getting killed around mid-year '10.

So at this point, Apple will likely have had a year's lead over Microsoft in the nascent tablet computing market. Android tablets are expected to hit the market en masse soon, though Samsung's Galaxy Tab is already out and selling fairly well.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:32 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

New CEO and COO named at Greater Baltimore Tech Council

The Greater Baltimore Technology Council this morning named its new chief executive officer: Sharon Webb, a former top executive with a Baltimore risk management firm, according to a news release.

The GBTC is a nonprofit that's dedicated to promoted the Baltimore region's technology community. The group had been under the leadership of Jennifer Gunner, as interim executive director, for the past six months after Steve Kozak left in June.

Gunner was named to the newly created position of chief operating officer.

Webb most recently worked as senior vice president for Riggs, Counselman, Michaels & Downes, a $40 million risk management and employee benefits firm, according to the GBTC. Webb also held leadership positions with AON Consulting, Marsh Inc. and Mercer Health & Benefits.

Webb will start her new position on Jan. 1.

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

Growing Bwtech@UMBC, from life sciences to cybersecurity

Frank Turano was a biology and genetics researcher and professor tied to George Washington University, while his wife was a professor specializing in sensory systems at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

When it came time for the couple to launch their own startup, they looked around Maryland for public and private incubators and ultimately decided on Bwtech at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

“We looked for support to grow a business,” said Turano, who launched Plant Sensory Systems three years ago, a small firm that investigates how to modify plant genes so they produce more biofuel and require less fertilizer. They have five full-time employees now.

“We liked the track record here,” Turano said.

While the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Hopkins have attracted headlines in recent years for developing bioparks in the city, the Bwtech Research and Technology Park has been chugging along for more than two decades, steadily expanding the number of companies and employees that call it home.

More recently, Bwtech officials are targeting cybersecurity, striking a partnership with Northrop Grumman last month to attract researchers and experts who could launch their own companies.
Cybersecurity is currently white-hot in academia, at least among Maryland’s public campuses.

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration is trying to push the state into the forefront of the industry, drawing on key government facilities in Maryland, such as the National Security Agency at Fort Meade.

The University of Maryland, College Park recently created the Maryland Cybersecurity Center to promote education, research and technology in the sector. The University of Maryland University College this year launched bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in cybersecurity.
Bwtech@UMBC — as it is known in shorthand — is among 20 publicly sponsored incubators across Maryland.

Across the country, incubators have grown popular as a way to counteract the effects of a punishing recession. With some early funding, hardworking entrepreneurs and investors are taking bets on future growth during a down economy.

Startup companies are attracted to incubators for a variety of reasons, including the potential for low rent, a collaborative working environment with like-minded professionals and guidance from industry veterans.

The Bwtech park, spread across six buildings on two campuses on more than 40 acres, has focused on helping launch startups in the life sciences industry and clean energy. Five of the buildings in the Bwtech North campus, in Catonsville, have been built within the past decade and feature newer office space.

A sixth building, Bwtech South in Halethorpe, was formerly the Martin Marietta research lab, which the state bought in the mid-1990s. The sprawling building near Route 195 is home to Bwtech’s life sciences incubator companies. This building houses companies that have a need for lab space.

Three years ago, the companies that were based at Bwtech numbered more than 900 employees. Today, more than four dozen companies and research organizations employ more than 1,200 people, officials said.

Fifty-two companies, or 91 percent of Bwtech’s incubator companies since 2000, are either still in operation or have been sold, while a small percentage went out of business, according to program statistics.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

December 13, 2010

Catching the 3D wave: Direct Dimensions' cool tech

michael-raphael.jpgMy colleague, Jamie Smith Hopkins, had a great one-on-one with Michael Raphael, the president of Direct Dimensions, a 3D imaging company based in Owings Mills.

The company has created digitized 3D images of everything from submarines to sculptures. At the moment, the firm is digitizing portions of the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

It plans to spin off a company called ShapeShot, which will specialize in digitizing/3D-izing people's faces for use in online communications and video gaming.

Imagine inserting your face into a video game or even a movie?

Here's the interview.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:21 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Gadgets

December 10, 2010

Millennial Media, dwarfed by Google, but still robust, report shows


Google is dominating the mobile advertising marketplace, but Baltimore-based company Millennial Media remains in the mix. [Above: IDC market share breakout for mobile ad industry in 2010]

That's the gist of a market research report by IDC, which surveyed the mobile online advertising landscape and includes some good detail on Millennial, a four-year-old company in the relatively young space of mobile advertising.

The IDC report, which I obtained, is multi-faceted: Google dominates in mobile search and display advertising, while Apple and Millennial come in distant second and third, respectively.

Search advertising attracts more money than display. That said, Millennial is doing well in display advertising, which is its core business. Google has a 19 percent market share, Apple has 18.8 percent, and Millennial has 15.4 percent. That's pretty good. See the chart below:


In terms of gross revenue, Millennial in 2010 is expected to make about $60 million. That's dwarfed by Google's mobile ad revenue of $518 million. Apple is expected to make about $74 million, IDC reported.

Google dominates about 59 percent of the market, Apple about 8.4 percent and Millennial 6.8 percent, according to IDC.

For a small company like Millennial, it's not bad being in third place when the next largest competitors are Google and Apple.

So what does all this mean for Millennial? Karsten Weide, the IDC research vice president who wrote the report, said that mobile advertising has more than doubled from 2009 to this year, from $368 million to $877 million.

As the pie gets bigger, Millennial's share is also expected to expand. And Weide estimates that the mobile ad market growth rate will be 120 percent, meaning it could reach $1.9 billion.

In short, mobile ads are gonna be hot for a few more years to come.

Weide predicts that Google will be the biggest beneficiary of the market expansion, since mobile search ads account for most of the spending and as Android mobile devices proliferate.

The analyst predicted that we'll see more acquisitions in the mobile ad industry. Weide wondered if Millennial, which has been rumored in that past to be in deal talks with BlackBerry/RIM and Microsoft, has been "driving too hard a bargain when talking to potential acquirers." But if it relented somewhat, it could be sold, he wrote.

Millennial executives have long said their plan is to take the company public in an IPO.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:35 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

OpenLeaks: The potential problem with a rising Wikileaks competitor

Former key figures behind the secrets-spilling website Wikileaks have split off and are preparing their own, new website called OpenLeaks, which is expected to launch Monday.

The ex-Wikileaks figures reportedly were frustrated with the group's leader, Julian Assange, and his apparently autocratic behavior.

The group behind OpenLeaks says it'll be different from Wikileaks in one major way: it will only act as an online collection point for confidential documents. It will then partner with media and nonprofit groups who will access their database and will be able to report, fact-check and write about the documents.

But is there a problem with this set up, at least in the context of U.S. laws and the presumed rights of publishers to freely publish classified information? (See this Congressional Research Service report on the topic.)

If OpenLeaks doesn't actually act as a publisher, can it be afforded the rights due to a free press? It sounds like it will become a repository for classified and confidential documents, but will its legal right to behave in such a manner actually put it in a weaker position than Wikileaks?

Say what you will about Wikileaks, but Assange's argument is that the group is indeed a publisher and entitled to hold and disclose documents under freedom of the press protections.

The State Department, however, says it believes that Assange and Wikileaks are not in the business of journalism, and thus not entitled to protections. Imagine what the State Department will think of OpenLeaks.

Will OpenLeaks be entitled to "freedom of the press" protection -- at least in the United States -- if it's not actually publishing? Or will it be easier for the U.S. Justice Department to make the claim that OpenLeaks is not a publisher and thus, illegally holding and maintaining classified government documents?

UPDATE: 2:55 p.m.

I've had a chance to clarify and expand upon my thinking about OpenLeaks and I have another point to add: what is the value proposition of OpenLeaks to the leaker/source?

With Wikileaks, if you have authentic, meaningful documents, the site has a proven track record of posting them without a filter. People get to see the documents themselves and journalists can refer to them. But the source material is made public without a filter. This is a revolution for traditional media, and one that frightens many people -- but it democratizes information.

Now take OpenLeaks. OL will apparently act as a middle man, a conduit, a trafficker and repository of sensitive information, but it will NOT be a publisher. Instead, it will allow for essentially traditional media and other orgs (i.e., NGOs) to engage in publishing.

But from the view of a leaker, the person who is putting his/her life on the line, which site is more attractive to you? Wikileaks, with its publish-it-all mentality -- or OpenLeaks, which invites traditional journalists (who many believe their slacking is part of the problem these days) to filter the leaks.

If I were a leaker, I'd choose Wikileaks, hands down.

This isn't to say Wikileaks doesn't have its organizational problems and challenges with Julian Assange, as its charismatic and reportedly autocratic leader. But Wikileaks is taking the risk of publishing, and not introducing an intermediary.

See this Ars Technica piece and the ensuing comments for more debate:

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:26 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas

December 9, 2010

Top Google searches for Baltimore in 2010 -- local colleges dominate

A new tool called Google Zeitgeist gives people across the world a way to look at popular searches in the region. The search giant also broke it down for major U.S. cities, including Baltimore. Below are the top searches done in Baltimore: google-baltimore-searches.gif















Here's the link to the page for Baltimore and other cities.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:56 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*

December 8, 2010

Xipwire: The lone U.S. company standing with Wikileaks?

Some well-known American businesses have ostracized Wikileaks, even though the secrets-spilling organization has not been criminally charged for its leaks of classified U.S. State Department cables. Grounds for legal action against it remain murky, but that hasn't stopped some companies of accusing it of engaging in illegal activity as an excuse to dump Wikileaks as a customer.

Amazon shut down server access to secrets-spilling website Wikileaks, after pressured by Sen. Joe Lieberman. Next, PayPal, Visa and Mastercard cut off the group's ability to raise money from donations. A small New Hampshire company, everyDNS, cut off ties with the website, allegedly to protect its own network from crashing.

In all the hubbub, however, a Philadelphia startup has seized an opportunity to support Wikileaks -- and, of course, it's now getting some free marketing in the process. Ah, the land of the free -- and capitalism. (Facebook and Twitter, to their credit, have made statements that they are not closing off the site from its services -- for now. But financial support for Wikileaks, (what Xipwire is enabling) in some ways, is perhaps even more critical at the moment.)

XipWire Inc. allows people to transmit cash using their mobile phone's text messaging capabilities. The company has waived any fees associated with its service to support Wikileaks. People can make donations in $10 increments either from their website or from a mobile phone running their application.

Here's a statement from Xipwire from their Website:

While people may or may not agree with WikiLeaks, we at XIPWIRE believe that anyone who wishes to support the organization through a donation should be able to do so. We are waiving all fees so that 100% of the donations collected will be directly passed on to WikiLeaks.

I'm waiting to hear back from Xipwire folks; hoping to interview them soon for some more details. Stay tuned.


Just got off the phone with Sharif Alexandre and Sybil Lindsay, of Xipwire and here are some more details:

Presently, Xipwire has received hundreds of donations to Wikileaks. The company has yet to establish formal ties with Wikileaks, so it is keeping the money in an account, and will transfer it when they connect with someone from the Website.

"They've been a little hard to get ahold of directly," Alexandre said.

Alexandre said Xipwire works with several charitable organizations and he believes people should have the right to donate to the causes they believe in, without interference from corporations.

"It's a completely different story if they (Wikileaks) were illegal on some level, then definitely that's a line we would not cross," Alexandre said. "But they haven't done anything different than The New York Times and The Guardian."

Alexandre said that the notion of his firm, which launched in May and has raised $500,000 in startup angel funding, is getting free publicity for its stance was a secondary concern. He said he is just as concerned about receiving negative publicity, since many believe Wikileaks is engaging in at least improper activity.

"We're fully aware that not everyone likes what Wikileaks is," Alexandre said. "But we are prepared to accept the consequences."

[FYI: I first learned about Xipwire's involvement from The Raw Story.]

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:29 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Smartphones

December 6, 2010

Google eBooks: Yet another ebooks platform! Yippee!

google-ebookstore.gifToday, Google unveiled "Google eBooks", with its own online bookstore and a selection of 3 million books that will undoubtedly grow.

The service will allow you to read an ebook on virtually any electronic/computing device with a Web browser. iPhones, Android phones, computers, iPads, and Nook and Sony e-readers -- all presumably will have access to Google eBooks. And there's no limit on how many ebooks you can store.

It's a cloud-based book service that Google claims is the largest in the world -- they also have a lot of free books which they've been accumulating since 2004 as part of their Google Books effort. A Google blog post today officially announced the service, which had been expected for awhile.

Book lovers of the electronic persuasion now have a ton of options for accessing ebooks. Apple has their iBooks platform, which right now is only for Apple devices. Amazon's Kindle is both a device and a platform.

The Kindle electronic reader is a platform available not only on the Amazon device, but also on smartphones and computers. And of course you have other ebooks options from competitors like Barnes and Noble.

Right now, however, Amazon and, to a lesser extent, Apple, have a lead in the ebooks space. I wonder how difficult it will be for Google to attract loyal customers without offering a dedicated e-reader device, the way Amazon offers the Kindle and Apple has its iPad.

Will discerning e-book customers be satisfied with the Web browser experience when it comes to reading ebooks? We'll see.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:16 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*

Big gov't contractor to hold job open house this Friday

I just got word that ManTech International Corp., a publicly traded defense contractor, is holding a career open house this Friday.

It will be held at the BWI Airport Marriott, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The company, which provides technology and services for national security programs, is seeking to fill more than 400 open positions that require various levels of security clearances.

The new positions are for locations in the Baltimore-Washington area, including a new facility that's opening in Aberdeen in March.

You don't have to register to attend the open house, but the company encourages potential applicants to visit its website at

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:20 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Government Tech, Jobs & Recruiting

December 3, 2010

Wikileaks: the free press fight of our time?


Don't be confused by the new battlefield of the Internet, Wikileaks's ability to continue publishing is shaping up to be a traditional free press fight of our time.

"If this were a newspaper and the government shut down its printing presses, there would be an national outrage, and that's precisely what's happening here," said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert at George Washington University.

To put it in some perspective, imagine this scenario:

A U.S. newspaper received hundreds of documents that exposed the inner workings of government decision-making at the highest levels, and published a compendium of the documents, using its own printing press.

As the newspaper special edition started to roll off the press and onto the trucks, the truck drivers found that the streets in front of the printing facility were blocked by big trucks and public works crews who suddenly decided to tear up the street without notice.

The newspaper delivery drivers, ever resourceful, used a rear exit and started delivering the papers to their on-the-ground delivery people in neighborhoods across the city. But those people were constantly getting pulled over by local police for minor traffic infractions. Others followed the delivery people and picked up every newspaper that was tossed on the front lawns. Most subscribers never got their morning paper.

At the newsstands, shadowy people either stole newspapers out of the boxes, or simply nailed them shut.

Back in the newsroom, a computer hardware company informed the editor-in-chief that it was coming to collect the computers that the newspaper leased to put out the newspaper. The reason: using the technology to publish documents that supposedly weren't rightfully theirs to publish.

The action was effective: this newspaper with a circulation of 500,000 people only managed to get this special, newsworthy edition out to only a tenth of its subscribers.

Freedom of the press? Sure, this newspaper has the right to run its own presses. The government and its partisan supporters would never interfere with that process. (Or would they?)

But they could make it difficult to disseminate the information.

Take this scenario and apply it to Web publishing. I would argue that this is exactly what we're seeing now with Wikileaks, the secrets-spilling Website that's been at the center of massive leaks that are exposing U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan. The documents are helping people to judge whether or not the U.S. government's public statements square with its behavior behind the scenes.

I don't think that Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, has yet said Wikileaks does not have the right to publish, though the Senate foreign intelligence committee is apparently calling for Wikileaks' founder, Julian Assange, to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. We'll see if the U.S. Justice Department can do that.

But there are government and economic forces at work that appear to be putting pressure on the infrastructure that underpins Web publishing, in the case of Wikileaks.

We are seeing the outer limits of freedom of speech and the press being tested right now. Are Web service providers hiding behind the language of their "terms of service," rather than wrapping their enterprise in the cloak of the First Amendment?

In the past few days, Amazon has booted Wikileaks off of its servers for not following its "terms of service."

"It’s clear that WikiLeaks doesn’t own or otherwise control all the rights to this classified content," Amazon wrote.

But generally speaking, the U.S. government does not have copyright protections for the work its officials produce.

Moving on past Amazon, another web service provider, Tableau Software, which allows users to post charts, was asked by Sen. Joe Lieberman to take down some charts depicting Wikileaks' references to countries. The information itself was not secret or classified per se.

But the senator put government pressure on this Seattle company, which caved, and took down the charts, according to this MSNBC report.

Next up: a web service provider called EveryDNS. Blaming web attacks that are destabilizing its infrastructure, EveryDNS stopped doing business with Wikileaks, which effectively took the site offline until it had to switch to a service in Switzerland. Instead of using, the site is now available at

Reuters reports that the French government is also looking at ways to deny Wikileaks use of web servers in that country.

This is all troubling behavior, in my book. What do you think? Let's kickstart a conversation about this critical topic.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:28 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Good Reads

December 2, 2010

KEYW makes another cyber tech acquisition

KEYW Corp. is a Maryland cyber security company that's been on a roll lately, going public in October and buying a slew of companies (eight) in its two-year existence.

As of today, make that nine companies.

The Hanover-based company, which provides cyber security services and technology to defense and intelligence agencies, said today that it acquired Everest Technology Solutions Inc., of Fairfax, Va. The price: $28 million cash, plus $2 million in KEYW common stock.

KEYW has raised more than $50 million in private equity, plus another $89 million through a public offering in October. KEY has used the money to buy smaller outfits that fit with its approach for developing agile, quick solutions for government intelligence agencies on tight deadlines. Unlike larger defense contractors who may offer broader services and technologies -- and move more slowly -- KEYW is more focused on fast-moving, mission-critical intelligence operations.

I profiled KEYW last month in a piece that outlined the company's brief, but quick-paced trajectory of organic growth and acquisitions.

It just so happens that KEYW executives today are hosting an analysts meeting at the NASDAQ exchange in New York City. Leonard Moodispaw, KEYW's CEO, also rang the opening bell this morning at the NASDAQ.

All in all, a day of good news for KEYW, I'd say. Let's see how the stock does. So far, it's up nearly three percent in morning trading.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:15 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Government Tech
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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:

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