Monday, January 24, 2011

Neverware JuiceBox a100 Gives New Life to Old Computers

JuiceBox a100When it comes to computers, most people expect theirs to be outdated within four years or less, depending on how you treat it. When Jonathan Hefter, CEO of Neverware, a start-up company out of New York City, was asked what he thought about the issue, he laughed and said, There are two things in this world planned for obsolescence. Computers and pantyhose. They are designed for the dump."

Hefter was not always into computers. He began as an undergraduate at Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania where he was studying economics. However, that goal was short-lived when, after not desiring to go into finance after graduation, Hefter spent a year in the basement of his parents' house tinkering with things. The concepts of networks come to Hefter naturally, even though he had never taken a course in computers. Hefter had a dream, a dream to create sustainable computing. While Hefter was trying to make that dream a reality, he came up with the world's first "juicebox", a nifty piece of virtualization technology.

In the earlier part of 2010, Hefter set up two technology pilots in schools around his area. The success of these pilots proved to Hefter, as well as others, that his concept could work. From here things only went up as in the spring at the Kairos Society's Annual Summit Hefter was approached by Polaris Partner Peter Flint. Flint invited Hefter to become a resident of Dogpatch Labs.

Hefter founded Neverware in May of 2010. Neverware is a company that you could call the "fountain of youth" for computers and recently moved into New York City's Dogpatch Labs. The cream of the crop for Neverware is definitely the JuiceBox a100, a single server appliance that will power up to one hundred old desktops with Windows 7 when added to the network. According to Hefter, "For a school in Africa, give them a LAN, one juicebox and the computers that corporations throw out and they suddenly now have the latest technology. Think about the implications in terms of education!"

This idea is not new, however. "This has been done but not since the 60's," said Hefter. In the 60's we relied on mainframe computing and one super powerful computer could support dozens of terminals. Since then though, computer power has become much faster and much cheaper and quicker than networking technology, which is why we have switched to local PC models. However, the PC model is extremely wasteful in terms of energy consumption and pollution. Old computers have to be destroyed and when they get thrown into a landfill or burned in an incinerator, they release a lot of toxic elements like lead, mercury and barium. Every juicebox that is set up acts like a new network. It is extremely green, not causing as much pollution and is energy efficient.

"Being able to build and successfully create the juicebox concept came in part from my own naiveté because I hadn't been involved in the industry so I had no clue that certain things just weren't done. This allowed me to develop as if those barriers did not exist," Hefter explains.

Overall, Hefter has created four juicebox machines, three real ones and one mobile demo. There is a great deal of freedom in the design of the juicebox thanks to the great flexibility of the device. Hefter's main focus here is on education and trying to give schools and educators the latest and most up to date technologies. Hefter wants to give the developing world an edge because he believes this is the place where he can be most distributive.

Pricing is still being worked out by Neverware, but they will likely come up with a more crowd pleasing software-as-service model. So I guess it is safe to say that the JuiceBox a100 will cost a fraction of a traditional desktop. The current juicebox can only support 100 units, though Hefter is in the process of making a 150 version juicebox very soon. Check out the video below where Hefter demos the JuiceBox a100 and his 10-year old Pentium 3 computer with missing hard drive and his laptop, which he uses as a keyboard and monitor.

Source: The Next Web, Engadget, Vimeo (video)

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Four Board Members Replaced by HP

Ray LaneSometimes companies have to make changes and sometimes those changes are big. Just ask the people at Hewlett-Packard. Only a few months out of the scandal involving Mark Hurd, HP is giving its board of directors a little bit of a makeover. HP released yesterday that they are replacing four board members as well as adding an additional seat. The four members that are being replaced are Joel Hyatt, John Joyce, Robert Ryan and Lucille Salhany.

The individuals replacing these four are newcomers Shumeet Banerji, CEO of Booz & Company; Gary Reiner, former CIO at GE; Patricia Russo, former CEO of Alcatel-Lucent; Dominique Senequier, CEO of AXA Private Equity; and Meg Whitman, former president and CEO of eBay and a recent California gubernatorial candidate. This increases the number of board members at HP from 12 to 13.

All five of the new directors will also stand for re-election at HP's next annual meeting in March. According to Ray Lane, HP's non-executive chairman of the board of directors, "The addition of these new directors will further diversify the outstanding talents and wide-ranging experience that our directors already bring to HP. Lane, also in his statement, thanked the four retiring members saying that they "worked tirelessly and effectively to navigate HP through a difficult leadership change in the last six months."

Robert Ryan, former lead independent director of the board, called it "a great privilege to serve on the HP board and see this outstanding company build on its legacy as a technology leader and innovator." Ryan also went on to express his confidence in Lane as well as the new CEO Leo Apotheker. Ryan added, "HP has a strong leadership team in place to continue moving the company forward."

These replacements seem to coincide with the investigation HP is ready to start into the circumstances surrounding the resignation of former CEO Mark Hurd from the company. Hurd, the now CEO of HP rival company Oracle, resigned as CEO back in August after sexual harassment allegations led to an inquiry which found that Hurd had misrepresented his expenses to the company.

HP reported that they want this investigation to be independent and led by a committee of outside attorneys and board members who joined HP after the resignation of Hurd. However, that means that only two board members will be eligible, Apotheker and Lane. However, with the new slew of Directors that just came in, this would mean that they all could participate.

Adding a bunch of new faces allows Aptheker to add new blood and cut old ties. Until this change, some directors were approaching nearly a decade on the board. Salhany was named a director back in 2002, Ryan in 2004 and Joyce and Hyatt were both added in 2007. The longest serving ones on the board now were added in 2005 when Hurd first arrived at the company.

Lane did clarify that the four members that left did so voluntarily and that their departure had nothing to do with Hurd's. The only problem with the new members is that they will have little time to make themselves at home before jumping into the fray. Aside from the Hurd investigation, HP is facing shareholder lawsuits over the severance package Hurd received. The Securities and Exchange Commission is also snooping around and asking questions about Hurd revealing an impending purchase of Electronic Data Systems to a former contractor months before it was announced to the public.

HP has a lot on its plate at the moment and the new board members will definitely have their hands full in the coming months.

Source: CNET
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing" Exhibit Opens at the Computer History Museum

The Computer History MuseumWhether it be art museums, history museums, museums that focus on a specific event in history or some other kind, people love going to museums. However, the majority of museums are generally more fun for the elderly, buffs of the certain genre or elementary school field trips. But there is one museum that caters to a different type of visitor, a more technological visitor, the Computer History Museum, and this week they have something new for all the tech junkies out there.

This week the Computer History Museum opened a $19 million, 25,000-square-foot expansion with a new signature exhibition known as "Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing." This new exhibit, after being in development for over six years, represents the most comprehensive physical and online exploration of computing history in the world. It spans everything from the abacus and slide rules all the way to robots, Pong and the Internet.

According to John Hollar, CEO of the museum located in Mountain View, California, "Many times, people coming to the museum have very basic questions: 'How did that computer on my desk get there? How did that phone I've used for so long get smart?' It's an exhibition that's primarily aimed at a non-technical audience, though there's a ton of great history and information for the technical audience as well."

The exhibition has been specifically designed to be accessible to visitors in a multitude of ways. This includes documents, video presentations, over 5,000 images and 1,100 artifacts in 19 galleries. The exhibit also features hands-on interactive stations that will demonstrate the principles of computing like being able to pick up a 24lb Osbourne computer or playing a game of Pong, Pacman or Spacewar.

There are many key artifacts in the exhibit including a 1956 IBM 305 computer as well as its 350 hard drive, the first commercially available machine of its type which practically took up an entire room and only held 5MB of data. Guests will also get to see the console of a 1950 Univac 1, the first household computer, a complete installation of the original IBM System/360, the dominate technology in mainframe computing for nearly 20 years and a Cray-1 supercomputer which was the world's fastest from 1976 to 1982.

Guests will even get the opportunity to see "The Utah Teapot", the device graphics designer pioneer Martin Newell used as his 3D computer model at the University of Utah. The teapot became the standard reference for computer graphics and the more realistic the designers could make the teapot, the better their graphics engine was considered. The ENIAC, which was built during World War II and was the world's first large-scale computer to run at electronic speed, is also on display.

"This is one of the greatest electronic computers ever invented," stated Holler. "We've made this a very human story. We've tried to talk about not just what happened, but what mattered in history. What mattered often boils down to the people who were the great innovators and the problems they were trying to solve, and so much of the exhibit is devoted to those important stories."

The ceremonial opening, which took place yesterday, contained a number of technological legends like Apple co-founder and engineer Steve Wozniak, computer programming pioneer Donald Knuth, video game inventors Al Alcorn and Steve Russell and IBM's first female fellow Fran Allen. The galleries of the exhibit will have many legends of the computing world speak as part of a series entitled "Revolutionaries".

Guest can also partake of an oral history program with over 40 interactive stations featuring the legends of computing. The stations will contain archived interviews with pioneers like Chuck Thacker from Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center and John Atanasoff who built the first digital computer in 1939. Holler added, "We often say, 'wouldn't it have been great to have been able to talk to Michelangelo as he painted the Sistine Chapel?' We can do that."

The exhibit is open now and is sure to be the highlight of any computer or tech lover's trip to the museum. If you love technology, history, computers or all of the above, then this is one place you have to visit before you die. Put it on your bucket list or tattoo it to the inside of your eyelids. Do whatever it takes to remember to go and see this exhibit.

Source: PC World
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Monday, January 3, 2011

Intel's Second Generation of Core Processors

Second Generation Core ProcessorsThe second generation core processor family, otherwise known as the Intel Core 2011 processors, has finally arrived. There have been months of teasing accompanying on-stage demos, but the details on the Core i3, i5 and i7 processors are finally coming out and, considering the fact that there are a total of 29 new CPUs as well as a new integrated graphics options (processor graphics), there is a lot to mull over.

The first generation of processors was released a little over a year ago, so what is it that makes the second generation different? Well, if you haven't been following the Sandy Bridge news, the new family of processors are all based on the 32nm microarchitecture from Intel. They are also the first to put processor, memory controller and graphics on the same die.

But what does that mean for you? Well, it means the package is smaller and the parts take advantage of each other more efficiently. While the graphics may not be as good as a discrete video card, they are a lot more powerful than before. According to Intel, the HD 2000 and 3000 processor graphics provide double the performance of Capella-based systems which coincides with early benchmark tests. Turbo Boost and Hyper-threading technologies have also been improved by Intel to a point at which the new chips enable higher levels of CPU performance. The new integrated chips reduce power consumption and can even turn off an idle optic drive activating "incredible battery life" according to Intel.

The new architecture means new CPUs, 29 to be exact, which include different versions of mobile and desktop Core i3, i5 and i7 models. Naming on the processors has changed. Now the processor's name is followed by four numbers as opposed to the previous three. The first processors to ship in physical systems will be the quad-core i7 CPUs and should be hitting this week with the dual-core versions coming in February. Ultra-low voltage versions for portable laptops are coming and should be introduced in the second half of the year. Be sure to keep an eye out for some specially marked overclockable "K" series processors that will allow you to individually set the clockspeed ratios for each individual core.

This new generation of processors is sure to create quite the buzz in the computer world, especially for people who are enthusiasts or are looking to build a custom rig. There are a lot more details out about the processors now than there have been, but I can only imagine what will be revealed about them later. Keep checking back here periodically for all the details on the second generation Intel processors.

Source: Engadget

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Microsoft Word Gets Hacked

Microsoft WordNo computer program is 100% safe. Any program, no matter how good the programmer behind it was, can be hacked. Even big companies, the ones that have hundreds of technicians and programmers, are still vulnerable to hackers. Just take a look at the most recent hacks on one of the most widely used pieces of software in the world, Microsoft Word.

According to Microsoft officials last Tuesday, hackers are now exploiting a vulnerability in Microsoft Word in order to plant malware on Windows PCs. The bug, found in Microsoft Word 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2010, was patched back on November 9th, 2010, as a part of Microsoft's monthly security update.

Word 2008 and 2011 for the Mac have been patched as well, however, Microsoft has not yet issued a fix for the same flaw in Word 2004. The attacks, on the other hand, only affect Windows versions of the suite.

According to the Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC), which is the group that investigates attack codes and also issues signature updates for the company's antivirus software, the first exploits were found last week. When the Word patch was shipped last month, the bug was rated as a "1" on the exploitability index. What that number means is that a working attack would manifest within 30 days.

The attack uses a malicious Rich Text Format (RTF) file to generate a stack overflow in Word on Windows, according to MMPC researcher Rodel Finones. Once a successful exploit takes place, the attack codes download and run a Trojan horse on the PC. Microsoft rated this RTF vulnerability as "critical" in Word 2007 as well as 2010 last month. However it was only listed as "important" in all other affected versions.

It is thought that this bug was a hacker choice due to the fact that users running Office 2007 or 2010 could be attacked if they made the simple mistake of previewing a specially-crafted RTF document in the Outlook e-mail client.

According to Jason Miller, the Data and Security Team Manager for Shavik Technologies, "Once a malformed message hits the Outlook preview pane, remote code can be executed. You should patch this right away." This is what he said when Microsoft released the patch.

Finones stated that the code "reliably exploits this Word vulnerability" and also urged users who have yet to install the November patch to do so immediately.

Source: Computer World
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