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May 31, 2011

Possible cancer risk with cellphones: WHO

The World Health Organization has started listing cellphone use as a possible "carcinogenic hazard", putting it in the same category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform, according to various reports.

A team of scientists from 14 countries found enough data to show a possible connection between cell phones and certain kinds of brain cancer, according to Reuters. But so far, there haven't been enough long-term studies that conclusively link cellphone radiation to cancer.

The BBC has more on the story.

Is it responsible of WHO to give such a warning based on, thus far, half-baked conclusions?

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:57 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: *NEWS*

May 27, 2011

Tech boom hits New York -- can Baltimore feel the aftershock?

The headline reads "New York startups ride tech boom."

It's the Wall Street Journal, and it's declaring that New York is experiencing boom times in its startup scene. Some may automatically -- and skeptically -- wonder that when a newspaper declares a boom, you know a bust isn't too far behind. I'm not ready to be that skeptical, yet.

As the article points out, there are a couple of different pieces in play in New York right now that's working in Silicon Alley's favor. There's talent, a mix of relative success stories, and a community of eager entrepreneurs fueling the ecosystem. Just as importantly, investors from Silicon Valley and elsewhere are now checking into the New York scene to grab on to any shooting stars that fly out of there, according to the article.

If there's a boom going on in New York, here in Baltimore, the startup scene is hoping for some positive aftershocks. There's still a fair amount of investment dollars flowing into the Washington-Baltimore region, but most of the money is going to that Northern Va./Washington corridor.

Many in Baltimore's tech scene were looking forward to the Startup City -- a business accelerator -- acting as a sparkplug for entrepreneurs and investors. But alas, that program has been postponed because enough investors couldn't be lined up, and the organizers are going back to the drawing board.

My rough sense about Baltimore is that investments are being made in biotech, cybersecurity and other targeted areas where there's money to be made, i.e. health care. Local angel investors seem to be less inclined to invest in popular consumer-facing apps and tech that captivate the general public, such as "the next Facebook" or "the next Twitter" or "the next Foursquare." The scene here is more B2B than B2C, which is fine, because there's money to be made in B2B -- it's just not as sexy to the average joe.

When you look at the latest stats from the National Venture Capital Association, the reality is that investments in New York and the DC-Metroplex (that includes us) were actually down in the first quarter this year.

You know who's up? Silicon Valley. And Texas (Austin, anyone?). And Philadelphia (kudos to our neighbor's startup scene). And the U.S. southwest.

Here are investment numbers for the 1st quarter of 2010, from the National Venture Capital Association:


Now here are similar stats for this year's first quarter:


These numbers make me wonder if venture capital is just heating up in Silicon Valley, driving valuations ever northward, and forcing VC's and angels to go looking for smart companies and smarter deals in other tech hotbeds.

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

May 26, 2011

Google: Hand over your wallet and no one will get hurt


The buzz for awhile now is that your smartphone will also become your wallet. That day is just about here.

Google today introduced what many had expected: a mobile payments system that marries a mobile phone, a mobile app, your credit card, and a new technology called "near field communication." (aka NFC)

The whole offering is called Google Wallet.

Basically, with phones that have the NFC chip, you'll be able to wave your phone -- like a magic spending wand! -- and plunk stuff on your virtual credit card. Google Wallet will also automatically ding you with coupons and loyalty points for whatever consumer programs you're signed up with.

Citi, Mastercard, First Data and Sprint are the partners on the effort with Google. If you use Mastercard's PayPass technology, then you can use Google Wallet, too.

Don't be surprised, dear reader, to see other mobile wallet solutions coming your way in the next year. Visa and AmEx have their own plans cooking. And who knows what Apple really has planned for its iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad junta.

Want to know more about the mobile payment scene? Here's a story I wrote last week about Micros Systems Inc. of Columbia, Md. rolling out a mobile payment app for restaurants.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 5:24 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Gadgets, Smartphones

Moodlerooms Inc., a Baltimore startup, raising $1.5 million


Moodlerooms Inc., a company that got its start in Baltimore's Emerging Technology Center incubator, disclosed with the SEC today that it is raising a $1.5 million round of investment in the form of debt and unsecured promissory notes that will turn into equity.

Moodlerooms is a company, based in South Baltimore/Federal Hill, that is using the open-source online education platform Moodle and offering add-on services and support to its institutional clients, which range from public schools to colleges and universities. Moodlerooms is competing against such heavy hitters as Blackboard and K12 Inc.

And yes -- I've written about them before.

So far, Moodlerooms has raised $425,000 of the planned $1.5 million.

This is the third time the company has sought to raise money. Last year, the company -- on two separate occasions -- raised $750,000 and $7.1 million. The money has fueled its expansion and growth -- the company moved its headquarters from the ETC offices on E. 33rd Street down to South Baltimore, and it hired more people.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 4:19 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Startups

May 20, 2011

AT&T's COWs at the Preakness

Maybe you've been to a large event where cellphone reception has been spotty due to the huge crowds.

Many large venues, such as sports stadiums, are nowadays working with telecom companies to add fixed gear that helps with cellphone communications traffic.

Wireless companies also have more mobile technology that they can deploy on the spot, to boost cellular transmissions. Meet AT&T's "COW" -- or cell sites on wheels. The company has deployed two of them to Pimlico Race Course, in preparation for the huge crowds tomorrow during the Preakness. Upwards of 100,000 are expected to attend -- and many will have smartphones that will stretch the capacity of wireless networks.

The COWs are in addition to the free Wi-Fi network that the Maryland Jockey Club is deploying during the event.

So, if you're planning to use your iPhone or Android, for instance, to play with the Preakness's smartphone app, during the day, hopefully you won't experience any delays or glitches.

Here's the AT&T COW in a Pimlico parking lot:

Photo courtesy of AT&T Wireless

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:04 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Coast, Events (Baltimore area), Gadgets, Wireless

May 19, 2011

Near field communication mobile payments coming to restaurants, via MICROS-Verifone partnership

What timing... Just this week, I wrote a story about MICROS Systems Inc. of Columbia, Md. jumping into the field of mobile payments with a smartphone app called Tabbedout.

Now, word comes out today that MICROS has partnered with Verifone to develop a near-field communications solution for the hospitality industry. What's NFC? Basically, a special chip installed inside your mobile phone allows you to use it as a kind of "mobile wallet."

Presumably you can link your phone directly to your bank account or credit card. And kapow! You are waving your phone around and spending money. Ah, the sweet smell of progress: it's never been easier to burn through your cash!

In addition to making payments with your phone, you'll be able to use NFC technology to take advantage of mobile coupons and promotions. Imagine the possiblities, say, if you can link NFC tech to social media apps, such as Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare -- so with a wave, you can send out a status update that you're at a particular restaurant.

Scary or useful?

It looks like Verifone has designed systems for white tablecloth restaurants as well as quick-casual. You could use your NFC-enabled phone right at the table, which will have a little wireless gadget (see below image from Verifone) that you wave your phone in front of. Here's an example.


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:14 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Gadgets, Wireless

LinkedIn IPO launches into stratosphere


Buckle in, folks! It's gonna be a wild ride from here on in.

LinkedIn Corp., the social media network for workers, went public today and its shares, which started out priced at $45, zoomed up to $90.50 in morning trading. It's currently at around $85, as of 10:40 a.m. today. That means, on paper at least, LinkedIn was valued upwards of $8.5 billion.

The Wall Street Journal story this morning noted that investors are hungry for similar IPO stories. By "similar stories," the WSJ probably means everyone is waiting to see how IPOs for Facebook, Twitter, Groupon and Zynga might do.

LinkedIn has been the under-rated, less sexy social media company, compared with those other four. But it was the first one to go IPO. I'd hate to be the last of those companies doing an IPO. Who'll have money to invest at that point?

Seriously though, I have to wonder if how well LinkedIn performs in the next couple of quarters will either whet investors' appetites for more social media companies on Wall Street, or turn them off on such company stocks. It's not a given that a big first day in the stock market for LinkedIn presages successful IPOs for Facebook, Twitter, Groupon and Zynga. LinkedIn, for one, has a lot of work to do for those investors who bought in between $45 and $90 today.

As Michael Moe, chief investment officer of GSV Capital Management in Woodside, California, told Bloomberg News yesterday: “The valuation for LinkedIn is rich. To earn the valuation, it has to continue to grow very, very fast.”

A lot can happen in the next couple of quarters. Internet competitors and the speed in which the market changes is faster than the speed at which Wall Street bankers operate. If LinkedIn knocks it out of the park the next couple quarters, that bodes well for its peers. If not, well, maybe we'll see more IPOs. Or maybe instead we'll see some acquisitions and mergers.

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

May 18, 2011

Diabetic and drive a Ford? You may soon be in luck

WellDoc, a Baltimore startup company helps people manage their chronic diseases with technology such as mobile devices, has scored a research partnership with Ford Motor Co. that will work toward integrating WellDoc's technology into Ford vehicles.

The premise: Americans spend 500 million "commuter hours" in their cars every week, so the automobile can become another access point for integration health care information technology systems.

Here's how WellDoc and Ford will integrate the tech, according to a press release:

The research project between WellDoc and Ford demonstrates how adults with type 2 diabetes can manage their disease using the WellDoc DiabetesManager® System through Ford’s SYNC® voice-activated in-car connectivity system. People with diabetes can enter their data such as medications, exercise, and diet information through speech-to-text interaction while in their Ford vehicle. Patients who utilize the DiabetesManager System benefit from consistent interaction across their cell phone, computer and now their vehicle. The WellDoc software-based system will also allow healthcare providers to access their WellDoc clinical decision support records while they’re in the office, on their mobile device or in their Ford vehicle.....Advanced features, still in development, include leveraging Ford SYNC’s location based services to help a driver not only identify and find a restaurant, but also assist them in making proper food choices at the restaurant.

Yowza. We're really starting to expect a lot from our driving experience!

WellDoc's been on a roll lately. It recently partnered with AT&T, too.

Below, WellDoc's brother-sister founders: Ryan Sysko and Suzanne Sysko Clough:


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

LinkedIn IPO frenzy -- would you buy the stock?

The coming LinkedIn IPO -- expected tomorrow -- may be a resounding success, as frothing-at-the-mouth investors appear eager to throw their money at big social media companies. The company is expected to prices its shares tonight and make them available on the stock market tomorrow, under the New York Stock Exchange ticker LNKD.

Potential share price: $42-$45.

Potential valuation: ~$4.25 billion.

So, here's the question: Would you invest in LinkedIn? This Reuters article outlines some of the risks in the marketplace for LinkedIn, including the fact that it has struggled with losses and profitability.

What happens when LinkedIn becomes directly accountable to Wall Street when it's public? Will it cut expenses and investment in future growth drastically to produce better profit margins?

In this Bloomberg video, Jonathan Merriman, a tech investor, explains the LinkedIn IPO and talks about the risks. Interesting stuff:

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May 17, 2011

Paying with your iPhone, browsing menus with your iPad


In today's story about technology in the Baltimore area, we take you to two popular destinations in Howard County, Md.: Houlihan's and Victoria's Gastro Pub.

At Houlihan's, the Columbia restaurant has enabled a smartphone app called Tabbedout to work with its point-of-sale terminals, where orders are punched in and credit cards are run. Tabbedout is made by an Austin, Tex.-based company and it's being marketed in partnership with MICROS Systems Inc., a big player in POS terminals for restaurants.

Basically, you input your credit card info once into the Tabbedout app and then you can request the tab -- and pay it -- with a few swipes of your finger while at the restaurant.

At Victoria's, also in Columbia, management there is allowing its restaurant to be used as a test bed for MICROS's iPad menu app, which is under development. The app allows beer and wine drinkers to browse the restaurant's extensive libations selection (250 beers enough for you?), and keep track of the beers you drink as a beer club member.

It remains to be seen in which direction MICROS will go with the iPad app, but don't be surprised if one day soon you're able to download your favorite restaurant's iPad app and interact with it, say, as a member of a diner's club, even when you're not there.

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May 16, 2011

Do you ever wish you could just unplug?

Do you feel overwhelmed and, perhaps, addicted to your smartphone, social media or the Internet -- or all three? Do you regularly wish you could just unplug, if you could just find the discipline to Put. Your. Phone. Down.

My story in yesterday's newspaper considered this topic from the perspective of some people who choose to take a "media fast", an "Internet Sabbath" or an "Internet Sabbatical." The idea has different names, for sure, but it's basically about setting time for yourself to unplug from digital life, slow down on the multi-tasking, and live in your physical reality, not a virtual one.

Gin Ferrara, a community manager at NewsTrust, was game enough to let me interview her for my story. She's an advocate of such media fasts. In fact, you can see her talking about her experience with the idea -- media free week -- in this video where she presented at a recent Ignite Baltimore event.

One area that I forgot to mention in my story (and I'm embarrassed for forgetting this) is the role that technology can actually play to help us better manage our relationship with technology -- does that make sense?

When people talk about unplugging, many mean they wish they could put down the work BlackBerry and not be reachable on the weekends by their bosses. When it came to smarter email management, I thought of Jared Goralnick. For my story, I interviewed Goralnick, founder and CEO of Awayfind, a tool that helps you get a handle on your email inbox. Basically, checking email can be a huge, compulsive time-suck. I probably check my email inbox a 100-200 times a day, but only a tiny fraction of that time am I receiving something I need to act on immediately. So Awayfind, a Made-in-Maryland company by the way, helps ferret out the important emails from the not-so-important ones.

"If you’re successful, you spend less time in your inbox," Goralnick said. "We’re a big fan of minimizing interruptions."

Personally, I think Goralnick is spot on. Lately, I've found myself feeling more refreshed and productive and focused when I'm working out of the office then while at the office. And then, it hit me. At the office, where I have MS Outlook, I'm constantly being distracted by email alerts that pop up (I have to change that setting), while outside the office, I don't have that distraction.

I probably get 300 emails a day. I can't keep up with them. About 90 percent is horrible spam. But I lose emails -- including ones from my bosses -- in the stream.

It's frustrating. And, by the end of the week, all I want to do is unplug.

Below is a picture of Gin and her husband, David Pepper, at home with Scrabble -- a game they play during their media free weeks.


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 3:52 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Gadgets, Social Media

Millennial Media's Paul Palmieri, others inform, entertain at TedxBaltimore

Yesterday was TedxBaltimore -- a half-day of speakers and performers who fired up a group of Baltimore thinkers and doers, per the "TED: Ideas Worth Spreading" tradition.

Techies and technologists were well-represented at TedxBaltimore. Among them were Dan Deacon, absurdist composer and electronic musician; Tom Loveland, tech company CEO and Baltimore's "Google Czar"; Todd Marks, founder of two tech companies that specialize in Web and mobile app experiences; Paul Palmieri, CEO and co-founder of Millennial Media; Carol Reiley, researcher in surgical robotics; and Mike Subelsky, entrepreneur and startup cofounder of, as well as a cofounder of Ignite Baltimore.

Whew.... that was a mouthful.

I was particularly interested in Paul Palmieri's talk (at about the 1 hour, 35 minute mark), about the "importance of enjoying one's work." Palmieri is leading Millennial, a Baltimore company that's currently hot, hot, hot -- Millennial is competing directly against Google and Apple in the mobile ad space. No small feat. (The company, based in Canton, is also on a hiring spree lately.)

One gem from Palmieri: "If you do something that you love, you will never work another day in your life."

Millennial, many expect, will go public in an IPO next year -- if it isn't acquired by then. It's always interesting to see the people that a CEO/founder of a hot company lists as his influences.

Watch the video below:

Watch live streaming video from tedx at

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 2:00 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Events (Baltimore area)

May 14, 2011

Convicted mobster alleges Feds planted biochip on him


The story of Vincent Michael Marino, aka Gigi Portalla, is one of drugs, violence, the New England mob -- and on its surface, seemingly wacky allegations of the DEA implanting him with a microchip to track his movements in the 1990s.

Marino was a bruiser in the Massachusetts organized crime scene back in the 1990s. He got sent to federal prison in the late 1990s and now he's housed in a penitentiary in Louisiana. Marino's life got complicated in Nov. 1996, when some people tried to kill him.

He was shot in the buttocks, taken to a hospital, and had surgery to remove the bullet, while law enforcement officers looked on. About a month later, he and a buddy were arrested at an airport and charged with drug trafficking allegations.

Now here is where it gets interesting: Marino alleges that, after his arrest, a federal agent approached him to sign a consent form to remove a biochip device from his body, which they had used to track him. Marino refused to sign. A subsequent x-ray would later find that there was some type of foreign object in his abdomen.

Marino filed complaints with the feds, who did some due diligence and determined that the federal agent was joking around with Marino during his arrest in telling him that they had biochip'ed him. Marino also filed an earlier lawsuit about the alleged implantation of a biochip, but it was dismissed by a federal court.

It appears that Marino has been housed in federal prison for more than 10 years while waiting for a simple MRI to be done that would further prove -- or refute -- the existence of some type of biochip in his body. If a biochip is there, one would have to wonder that his conviction would be overturned as a violation of his civil rights.

Did the technology exist in the 1990s for the implantation of some type of biochip that could track people? This New York Times article, which covered Marino's earlier lawsuit in 1999, certainly considers its plausibility.

Marino refiled a lawsuit last month in the U.S. District Court in Washington DC. Below is the complaint. At this point, I'm not sure why it's taken over 10 years to just give Marino an MRI to prove, once and for all, that he either does or does not have a biochip in him.

He appears to have some medical evidence for an "artifact" being in him, through an x-ray that was done on him. An MRI has to be cheaper than defending against his lawsuits, which apparently no one takes too seriously.

Or, is this the delusion of a convicted mobster?

Vincent Michael Marino Lawsuit

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 7:35 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

May 13, 2011

Stolen laptop recovered with help of technology, Twitter followers

Sean Power (or @seanpower) riveted the Twitterverse last night with his play-by-play of his efforts to use technology and the Twitter crowd to reclaim his stolen laptop.

His computer had been stolen days before in New York City and Sean had to fly to Canada in the meantime. But on his computer, he had free, open-source location-tracking software, called Prey, that alerted him when his laptop was being used. His laptop's webcam took pictures of the alleged thief, and tracked him as he surfed the Web, used Skype and even logged in to his bank account!

Sean ends up calling the guy and arranging for his computer to be given to two people, who apparently heard about the drama as it unfolded on Twitter, and offered to help Sean.

It's a crazy tale of high-tech and, um, crowdsourcing, I suppose, your stolen laptop's recovery. Hit up the links over in Geekwire to dig further into the story.

Here's a question: how popular is the Prey software today after Sean's story?

Here's their video of how the software works:

Prey Project introduction from Carlos Yaconi on Vimeo.

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Free high-speed Wi-Fi at Preakness coming

At the Preakness Stakes on May 21, using your smartphone to watch and send videos and photos and update your online social network accounts should hopefully be smoother than ever, thanks to a Wi-Fi network that organizers plan on deploying for race fans.

Tough cellphone and Internet connectivity at big events is often a fact of life, as thousands of people with handheld devices concentrated in a relatively tight area can overwhelm cellular towers.

The Preakness is one of horse racing's biggest annual events where tens of thousands of people show up, party in the infield and enjoy a day at the races. Organizers are striving for more technological sophistication at the event, and encouraging people to interact with the event via their mobile phones.

(Personally, I'd love to see every race horse "tagged" with a GPS chip, so we can all track the races in real time with an app on our smartphones.)

Did you know: The Preakness has its own smartphone app now.

The Maryland Jockey Club, which owns Pimlico, has chosen Ruckus Wireless, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-company, to install the high-capacity Wi-Fi network on the 70 acre Pimlico site for Preakness. A local ISP, Believe Wireless, is providing the Internet connectivity.

For the Wi-Fi tech geeks out there, Pimlico will "deploy 50 Ruckus ZoneFlex 802.11n dual-band access points (APs) managed by a centralized wireless LAN controller. The APs located in the infield section are mounted in tents and will connect to Ethernet switches and fiber and copper cabling installed underground," according to a news release.

Imagine if this infamous Preakness video -- the "running of the urinals" -- could have been broadcast live by people using their smartphones?


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:40 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*

May 12, 2011

Facebook's Careless Whispers Against Google: Reports


What Would George Michael Think?

The Daily Beast and USA Today report on the unmasking of Facebook as the company that hired a huge PR firm, Burson-Marsteller, to spread exaggerated tales about Google infringing on users' privacy.

A nasty whisper campaign? No surprise there. But Burson-Marsteller, your two PR guys were careless about it.

Blogger Chris Soghoian posted the email exchange he had with Burson-Marsteller for all to see.

Kudos to Chris and others in the media for not being used as PR pawns.

I wonder if Facebook feels guilty about doing this -- or just foolish for getting caught. Will it ever dance again, as George Michael sings in the chorus:

I'm never gonna dance again
Guilty feet have got no rhythm
Though it's easy to pretend
I know you're not a fool

UPDATE:Not only do I have "Careless Whisper" in my head, my editor also pointed to this awesome Youtube vid I had never seen before:

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:56 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Media

May 11, 2011

Maryland tech company winners

The Tech Council of Maryland gave out its annual round of awards last night for different categories. The nonprofit council has about 500 member companies and individuals. Without further ado, the winners:

The winners of the 2011 TCM Tech Awards are:

Tech Advocate of the Year - Sen. Nancy J. King: Sen. King was recognized for her numerous efforts to foster growth of the tech and biotech community in Maryland. She co-sponsored a bill and worked in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee this year to help secure additional funding for the Biotech Tax Credit. She also was instrumental in stopping legislation that was harmful to tech and biotech incentives, extending the Research and Development Tax Credit and opposing the tech tax.

Executive of the Year - Moe Abutaleb: Abutaleb, who is president, CEO and co-founder of UltiSat Inc., has been involved in the telecommunications industry since 1977. Throughout his career, he has participated in and managed the definition, development and implementation of numerous space and ground-based products and systems. Abutaleb established and sold his first start-up company, ITCI, which developed and licensed hardware and software products in the secure communications and bandwidth management markets. His vision to "dream big" led to the founding of UltiSat (originally called Psi Systems) in 2003. As CEO of UltiSat, Abutaleb has managed the company's systematic, progressive and organic growth to a level of profitability that is more than double comparable businesses. Last year, under his leadership, the company grew revenues by 100 percent, doubled its staff and office space and acquired a Danish subsidiary.

CFO of the Year - Peter L. Buzy: Buzy is CFO, treasurer and executive vice president for Finance and Administration at Martek Biosciences Corporation, which is now a part of DSM. He joined Martek in 1998 as its CFO and has been instrumental in the company's growth and success. His inspirational and ethical leadership turned the company's $13.5 million loss in 1998 into a $52 million profit last year. Buzy has executed license agreements with several major pharma and food companies and has acquired three companies for Martek that were valued at $275 million. Most recently, he was involved in negotiating a deal for the sale of Martek to its longtime partner, DSM, for $1.1 billion.

STEM Educator of the Year - Anthonette Peña: Peña is an 8th grade science teacher, at Stuart-Hobson Middle School in Washington, D.C. As a teacher, she strives to increase the number of underrepresented groups, specifically minorities and females, within the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) pipeline and encourages her students to consider STEM careers. Her innovative lesson plans are tailored for a variety of learning styles, including inquiry-based, hands-on learning and use of technology when possible. Prior to joining the Stuart-Hobson staff, Peña served as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings.

High Tech Firm of the Year - Aegis Mobile: Columbia, Md.-based Aegis Mobile is a national provider of mobile and compliance solutions that has been profitable since day one. Aegis' set of proprietary tools provides mobile marketing compliance, media intelligence, device testing, mobile websites, mCommerce solutions and mobile applications. The company works with Fortune 100 companies, educational institutions and other businesses in a variety of industries, as well as four of the six major mobile carriers, to ensure that mobile websites deliver timely, relevant and safe user experiences.

Emerging Company of the Year - Zyngenia, Inc.: Zyngenia, which is based in Gaithersburg, Md., is a biotechnology company founded in 2009 to focus on the development of next-generation multispecific, multivalent antibody-based drugs called Zybodies™. The company is an example of a successful public-private partnership, having received $25 million in combined venture funding from New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Montgomery County and the State of Maryland. Zyngenia has developed proprietary technology that enables it to create single molecule drugs that bind two or more drug targets simultaneously thereby enhancing efficacy and leading to new ways in which to target a number of different diseases. Zyngenia's first and second drugs are designed to be used in oncology and autoimmune indications, respectively.

Government Contracting Firm of the Year - NETCONN Solutions: Hagerstown, Md.-based NETCONN Solutions provides advanced technological solutions and enterprise systems design, analysis, and integration services for many agencies in the U.S. Department of Defense. The company focuses on enterprise-level technical challenges in five key practice areas: information assurance tools and security, orchestrated migrations, value engineering, data center infrastructure and edge computing. For the 14 years it has been in business, the company has achieved positive revenue growth and is currently operating at over $30 million in revenue.
Biotechnology Firm of the Year - Novavax, Inc.: Novavax, Inc., which is based in Rockville, Md., is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that is developing next-generation vaccines to prevent serious infectious diseases, such as pandemic and seasonal influenza, H1N1 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The company's breakthroughs have led to both a landmark flu vaccine contract and licensing agreement with a South Korean drug maker valued at $179 million and a multiyear contract with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for advanced clinical and manufacturing development of recombinant vaccines for the prevention of seasonal and pandemic influenza.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:50 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

May 10, 2011

Google Music Beta launches today

It's been talked about for awhile and now it's finally here -- er, if you get an invite to the beta, that is. I'm talking about Google Music Beta -- the cloud-based service for listening to music you own from multiple devices.

Google launched this service without any agreements in place with major record labels -- sort of what Amazon did recently with it's own service, called Amazon Cloud Drive.

For music lovers and some big tech companies, developing a cloud-based service for streaming music that people already own has been the Holy Grail the last couple years. Apple is reportedly preparing to unveil its own cloud-based solution in the coming months, but one supposedly that's less cumbersome than Google's and Amazon's. You see, with theirs, you have to upload your music to their services, which could take many hours.

But Apple could unveil a service that, some hope, detects the songs consumers already own and then builds their streaming selection automatically -- without having to upload hundreds or thousands of songs. That, my friends, is a better user experience.

On a side note, why does Google think it's a good idea to keep adding the term "beta" to products that it heralds? I think it sends the wrong signal to mainstream users who don't like to be used as guinea pigs all the time. Deliver a quality product out of the gate -- or get out of the game, Google! Come on!

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:48 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: *NEWS*

Will Microsoft suck the spark out of Skype?

By now, you've heard the news: Microsoft is buying Skype in an $8.5 billion deal, the largest ever acquisition for the mammoth maker of the Windows franchise.

Skype was owned by eBay and a bunch of other investors, but eBay never really realized Skype's potential. Skype's got 600+ million users worldwide (that's about the same size as Facebook, folks), but it's never quite figured out how to make money.

Microsoft probably thinks it needs Skype to be a contender in the VOIP market, and getting all those loyal users helps. People may often complain about Skype, but many appreciate it because it's free and cheap -- lots of bang for little or no buck.

So now, the big question is: what will Microsoft actually DO with Skype. Will it go the way of the Flip cam, whose business was bought by Cisco and now faces a shutdown? Will Microsoft try to integrate Skype into its suite of Office products -- and is that even technology possible? [Update: ReadWriteWeb reports that that's exactly what Skype/Microsoft plans to do.] The Guardian's Charles Arthur thinks it won't pay off for Microsoft. Many seem to be skeptical that Microsoft can generate value -- and profits -- from the deal.

I, for one, think Microsoft can find some interesting synergies and integrations with the Microsoft Kinect and the Xbox, and Skype. And don't forget, Microsoft is now a major partner with Nokia, and could make Skype a major player on smartphones, though it has to be sensitive with the mobile carriers.

This may be a minor quibble, but I also think Microsoft can do a better job of (re)designing Skype's user interface, which right now is mediocre at best for both PC and Mac platforms. It's kind of nightmare, frankly.

So, no, I don't think Microsoft suck the spark out of Skype. I'm interested to see in which direction Microsoft takes the platform.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:32 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: *NEWS*

May 9, 2011

Powering a cellphone with your voice?

Today, the UK's Telegraph reports on a new effort by South Korean scientists to convert sound waves into energy, with obvious uses for mobile phones.

If this piece of science ever gets fully developed, my gosh -- people will never shut up on their cellphones and they'll use the excuse of saying they're charging their batteries!

The writer quotes scientist Dr. Sang-Woo Kim as saying:

"Sound power can be used for various novel applications including cellular phones that can be charged during conversations and sound-insulating walls near highways that generate electricity from the sound of passing vehicles.

"The latter development would have the additional benefit of reducing noise levels near highways by absorbing the sound energy of vehicles."

Here's another idea: can scientists convert the physical pressure that we exert on our phones for texting into energy? Can you imagine if we harness the national potential of all 13-year-olds engaged in texting everyday? I'm sure we could power cities across the land!

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:39 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Smartphones

May 5, 2011

Bin Laden phishing/Facebook scam-spam

Osama Bin Laden is dead. But he's still wreaking havoc online, thanks to spammers and hackers who've appropriated his name and the widespread interest in the news of his death to trick people into clicking on links.

Facebook Wall posts and email links that try to entice you to click on images and videos are all over the Net. Have you clicked on any of these links? If so, I'm wondering what the fallout is for computer, email and social media users? Was your account hijacked? Have you lost money? Or is this just another daily nuisance that we all endure as digital citizens.

Drop me a message if you've been affected. Here's my email: gus(dot)sentementes(at)

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:42 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

May 4, 2011

Lockheed Martin sues Montana firm over "skunk works" trademark

Lockheed Martin has set its sights on a small Montana arms manufacturer named Underground Skunkworks LLC.

The Bethesda-based defense contractor, is suing the company in federal court in Maryland for incorporating the term "skunk works" in its name and products. The company, Underground Skunkworks LLC, is a maker of high-powered rifles, shotguns and carbines.

Now, Lockheed holds a couple of federally registered trademarks for Skunk Works, and it claims the term in an official history on its website. Lockheed says it has been using the term "Skunk Works" since World War II.

Underground Skunkworks seems to be aware that the name "skunk works" may strike some people -- and potential military customers -- as evoking Lockheed Martin, and has put up a disclaimer on its website's homepage. Here's a snapshot of the disclaimer:


Underground Skunkworks hasn't yet responded to the complaint, which was filed this week. We'll see who wins this showdown......

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:24 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

May 3, 2011

Preakness app for your iPhone, Android & BlackBerry


Good news, Preakness fans:

The Maryland Jockey Club has caught up with the times and is offering a smartphone app for the Preakness experience. The free app, available now in the Apple App Store and soon to come for Android and BlackBerry, appears to be a mix of native app design and a simple re-display of parts of the website.

One feature that's pretty cool is the event schedule, which seems to integrate with your phone's camera and allows you to post to Twitter and Facebook. It'll be a useful tool to have handy for those who are spending the day at Preakness, on May 21st. Also, the detailed map of Pimlico is another good feature.

And for non-expert bettors (like me) who've never wagered at a racetrack before, I also like the "What to say at the window." Also, the explanation of the types of wagers is super-helpful for us novices. I always wondered what an "Exacta" was.

Hopefully, as the Preakness approaches, the MJC will fill in more information about the jockeys and horses. This is a great and easy way for people to learn all the faces, characters and horses before the big race. There's a lot you can do with this content, by the way, such as encouraging people to post on their favorite jockeys and/or horses to Facebook and Twitter.

The app includes video clips from racing at Pimlico. It would be cool if the video offerings included little clips of the Preakness horses and their jockeys, as the event approaches.

preak2.PNG preak3.PNG

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:53 AM | | Comments (0)
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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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