Saturday, December 17, 2011

3 Technology Link

3 Technology Link

CA startup sees entrepreneur-ship as visa solution

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 02:45 PM PST

CA startup sees entrepreneur-ship as visa solution

You’ve heard of tech companies starting in a Silicon Valley garage. What about on a ship?

CA startup sees entrepreneur ship as visa solutionA drawing provided by Blueseed Co. shows their ferry docking next their cruise ship outside of San Francisco. California startup Blueseed Co. wants to dock a vessel off the coast to house foreign entrepreneurs who have dreams of creating the next Google but can’t get visas to work in the United States. The ship aims to provide a remedy by giving foreign entrepreneurs a place to build their companies only a short boat ride from high tech’s hub.

That’s the idea being floated by a California startup that wants to dock a vessel off the coast to house foreign entrepreneurs who have dreams of creating the next Google but can’t get visas to work in the United States.

Sunnyvale-based Blueseed Co. says current immigration rules can sink promising ventures and torpedo innovation and job creation.

The ship aims to provide a remedy by giving foreign entrepreneurs a place to build their companies only a short boat ride from high tech’s hub.

“A lot of people say, `I’d like to go to Silicon Valley’ but there is no way for them to do it,” said Max Marty, Blueseed CEO and co-founder.

Marty, the son of Cuban immigrants, thought of the ship after listening to international classmates of his at the University of Miami business school lament about having to leave the U.S. after graduation.

Politicians have wrangled with the issue, but efforts to change the system have stalled.

Last July, President Barack Obama said during a Twitter town hall he wanted to make sure talented people who studied in the U.S. were able to stay to create jobs.

“We don’t want to pay for training them here and then having them benefit other countries,” Obama said.

A bill to address so-called brain-drain was reintroduced this year by Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., John Kerry, D-Mass., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind. The Startup Visa Act would allow immigrant entrepreneurs and foreign graduates from U.S. universities to appeal for a two-year visa “on condition that they secure financing from a qualified U.S. investor and can demonstrate the ability to create American jobs.”

But Blueseed founders don’t expect any real reform from a bitterly divided Congress during an election year.

“Our solution is an entrepreneurial solution,” said Dario Mutabdzija, Blueseed’s president.

From cruise ships to oil rigs to military aircraft carriers, there are several examples of individuals living and working on ships. This one would accommodate about 1,000 people and be docked 12 miles southwest of San Francisco Bay, in international waters.

It would be registered in a country with a reputable legal system, maybe the Bahamas or the Marshall Islands, Marty said. Residents would be subject to the laws of that nation.

Residents would be ferried ashore with temporary business or tourist visas, which are easier to get, to meet with investors, collaborators, partners and others. Mutabdzija said the ability to have face-to-face meetings cannot be underestimated when trying to gain trust – and secure funds – from investors.

“Yes, we live in an interconnected age with Skype and other video conferencing. But if you want to grow a company, physical interactions are of paramount importance,” Mutabdzija said. “We’re a startup. We ran into this. Some people said if you’re not within a 20 mile radius, we won’t talk to you.”

The proximity to high-tech’s center, Silicon Valley, is also important.

“The talent, the money, the expertise and a cultural acceptance of risk. Elsewhere if it doesn’t work out, you’re a black sheep and the funds dry up,” Mutabdzija said.

The ship would be a remodeled cruise ship or barge that Blueseed leases or owns. It would have all the high-tech amenities expected of a startup incubator and the look of employee-friendly Internet giants Facebook and Google, famous for their modern campuses complete with gourmet cafeterias, exercise facilities and an environmentally-sustainable design.

A live-work space would cost about $1,200 a month.

Logistical support, including food and other supplies, would come from local businesses along the coast, helping the economies of Half Moon Bay and San Francisco, though it hasn’t been determined exactly which port Blueseed would use.

A helicopter also would be available for emergencies.

Critics deride the ship as a publicity stunt, and say investors would be better served contributing to ventures that help Americans create businesses.

“I would say the whole thing is a perfect metaphor for how in corporate America the practice to grow talent and incubate business locally is drifting away – quite literally,” said Bob Dane, of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for limited immigration.

But supporters of foreign entrepreneurship say immigrants are responsible for some of the most successful businesses in the world and if the U.S. doesn’t try to attract them, others will.

“The ship may sound like a crazy idea but it illustrates how seriously flawed the immigration system here is,” said John Feinblatt, who runs Partnership for a New American Economy, which advocates for immigration reform.

The organization published a report in June that said 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children.

Feinblatt said countries including Chile, Singapore and the United Kingdom have programs to attract immigrant entrepreneurs.

“While the U.S. is driving people away, other countries are welcoming them with open arms,” he said. “If you miss out on them, you miss their talent, their ideas and ultimately the jobs that they create and the taxes that they pay.”

Christopher S. Bentley, a spokesman with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the agency has not seen the proposal and it’s premature to comment.

Maritime experts say such an idea is feasible, but very costly.

“A good single point mooring costs in the millions of dollars but it could restrain a ship-shape vessel in quite severe storms and in deep water,” said Bil Stewart, CEO of Houston-based Stewart Technology Associates, an engineering consultancy specializing in offshore and marine structures.

“But it would be prudent if the vessel had its own propulsion if you had a Pacific hurricane come along,” Stewart added.

Blueseed’s idea has started gaining steam.

Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel, a founder of PayPal, announced he would lead Blueseed’s financing search. Thiel has been a big supporter of “seasteads” – self-ruling cities on the ocean – and both Marty and Mutabdzija worked at the Seasteading Institute.

Blueseed wants to raise $10 million to $30 million over the next year and a half. The goal would be to launch in late 2013.

(c) 2011

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Jury says verdict close in $1B Microsoft lawsuit

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 02:42 PM PST

Jury says verdict close in $1B Microsoft lawsuit

Jurors have resumed deliberations in a Utah company’s $1 billion federal antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft Corp. and say they’re close to a verdict.

Jury says verdict close in $1B Microsoft lawsuitIn this Nov. 21, 2011 photo, Bill Gates arrives to testify at the Frank E. Moss federal courthouse in Salt Lake City. Closing arguments are set Tuesday Dec. 13,2011 in a $1 billion federal antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft Corp. Novell Inc. claims the software giant duped it into working on a new version of the WordPerfect writing program only to withdraw support months before Microsoft’s Windows 95 was released. Novell claims it was later forced to sell WordPerfect for a $1 billion loss.

Novell Inc. sued in 2004, claiming Microsoft duped it into developing a version of its WordPerfect writing program for Windows 95 only to pull the plug so Microsoft could gain market share with its own Word program.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates testified last month that Novell just couldn’t deliver a compatible WordPerfect program in time for the rollout, and that Microsoft’s own Word program was actually better.

Jurors said late Thursday they were making progress deciding whether Novell was entitled to damages. On Friday morning, they said they were close to finishing deliberations.

(c) 2011

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Online game maker Zynga prices IPO at $10 a share

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 02:39 PM PST

Online game maker Zynga prices IPO at $10 a share

Zynga is poised to harvest some cold hard cash in its initial public offering. Who knew that selling virtual cows and digital corn on Facebook would create a $7 billion company?

Online game maker Zynga prices IPO at $10 a shareIn this Oct. 11, 2011 file photo, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus speaks at a Zynga event, in San Francisco. Founded in 2007 and named after CEO Mark Pincus' dog, Zynga Inc. follows online deals site Groupon Inc. and professional network LinkedIn Corp. in going public.

The online game developer best known for “FarmVille” priced its initial public offering late Thursday at $10 per share.

That’s at the top of its expected range of $8.50 to $10, a sign that investors are eager to get a piece of the latest in a series of high-profile tech IPOs this year. Zynga is selling 100 million shares and giving its underwriters the right to buy another 15 million shares. The company stands to raise slightly more than $1 billion from the offering, before subtracting for expenses.

Thursday’s pricing gives San Francisco-based Zynga a market value of about $7 billion.

Zynga will begin trading Friday on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker symbol “ZNGA.” That’s when “Main Street” investors will get a chance to buy the stock. The offering rounds out a busy week for IPOs, the likes of which the market hasn’t seen since before the 2008 financial meltdown.

Founded in 2007 and named after CEO Mark Pincus’ dog, Zynga Inc. follows online deals site Groupon Inc. and professional network LinkedIn Corp. in going public. A bevy of smaller Internet startups, such as reviews site Angie’s List Inc. and Pandora Media Inc., have also taken the plunge. They’re the soup, salad and appetizer to the main course: Facebook’s public debut, expected sometime after April. The social network could rake in as much as $10 billion.

Pincus and Zynga’s 2,300 employees have built a business charging small amounts of money – a few cents, sometimes a couple of dollars – for virtual items in online games. The games themselves free to play. These items range from crops in “Farmville” to buildings in “CityVille,” its most popular Facebook game. This so-called “free-to-play” business model assumes that most people won’t want to pay anything to build virtual castles in “CastleVille” or take down rival mob bosses in “Mafia Wars.”

But with a large enough player base and a few loyal spenders, Zynga was able to earn a net income of $90.6 million in 2010. Though not unheard of, it’s unusual for a tech startup to turn a profit before going public.

Zynga has been criticized for being too dependent on Facebook and its 800 million users. Facebook takes 30 percent cut from what people spend on outside applications through its site. In the July-September period, 93 percent of Zynga’s revenue was generated through the world’s largest online social network.

That said, there’s no denying that Facebook’s vast user base and widespread popularity are directly responsible for Zynga’s meteoric rise. As of Thursday, Zynga’s games had more than 223 million monthly users on Facebook. If those gamers could form their own nation, its population would be roughly on par with Indonesia and Brazil.

Zynga’s growth has also been helped by the simple fact that its games are addictive. Just last week, actor Alec Baldwin got booted off a plane because he wouldn’t stop playing “Words With Friends,” Zynga’s Scrabble-inspired mobile phone game. Zynga is focusing on mobile gaming as a way to expand beyond Facebook.

Baldwin’s flight fiasco offers proof that mobile games present the biggest growth opportunity for Zynga, according to Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter. International expansion and getting people who already play Zynga games to spend money are other ways the company can grow.

Zynga is not without rivals. Its main competitor on Facebook is Electronic Arts Inc., the more old-school video game publisher best known for console games such as “Madden” and “The Sims.” Recently, EA has been focusing on its mobile and online business. Its Facebook version of “The Sims” has created a healthy rivalry with Zynga.

Though not a direct competitor, another similar company is Japan’s Nexon Co., which went public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange this week, raising $1.2 billion. Originally from South Korea, Nexon pioneered the free-to-play revenue model that has led to Zynga’s success. But where Zynga caters to the Facebooked masses, Nexon’s focus is on more complicated games that can take hours, not minutes to crack. Valued at $7.2 billion after Wedneday’s IPO, Nexon has about 77 million monthly active users.

Owen Mahoney, chief financial officer of Nexon and a former EA executive, believes several trends are contributing to the popularity of gaming companies like Nexon and Zynga. Namely, higher broadband Internet speeds are making it easier to download games; consumers are looking to try before they buy; and they are spending money in smaller amounts per purchase – not unlike when music fans began buying individual digital songs, as opposed to entire albums.

“The same forces that affected the entertainment business are affecting the video game business,” Mahoney said.

Not everyone is big on Zynga, though. “FarmVille” and its ilk annoy some Facebook users who get tired of their crop-harvesting friends asking for help with their virtual farms.

There are naysayers on Wall Street too. Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia took the unusual step of putting an “Underperform” rating on Zynga this week, days before the company was scheduled to go public. The analyst set a price target of $7 for Zynga’s yet-to-be traded stock, below even the low end of its expected IPO pricing range, citing concerns about the company’s growth rate. Bhatia said he wanted to provide an “independent view” of Zynga at a time when its bankers and the company will be selling the deal to clients.

“It’s not to say the stock can’t do well initially,” he said.

Wedbush’s Pachter, meanwhile, said it’s “really premature” to call the death of a four-year-old industry.

“No one has enough data to say growth is stalled,” he said.

(c) 2011

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FBI contacted phone monitoring firm about software

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 02:37 PM PST

FBI contacted phone monitoring firm about software

A senior executive at a technology company that makes monitoring software secretly installed on 141 million cellphones said Thursday that the FBI approached the company about using its technology but was rebuffed. The disclosure came one day after FBI Director Robert Mueller assured Congress that agents “neither sought nor obtained any information” from the company, Carrier IQ.

FBI contacted phone monitoring firm about softwareIn this Dec. 14, 2011 file photo, FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. A senior executive at a technology company that makes monitoring software secretly installed on 141 million cell phones told The Associated Press on Thursday that the FBI approached his company about using its technology but was rebuffed, one day after FBI Director Robert Mueller assured Congress that agents "neither sought nor obtained any information" from the company. The disclosure will likely inflame suspicion about the monitoring tool and its usefulness to the U.S. government.

The company’s statement will likely inflame suspicion about the monitoring tool and its usefulness to the U.S. government.

Andrew Coward, vice president of marketing for Carrier IQ of Mountain View, Calif., told The Associated Press that the FBI is the only law enforcement agency that has contacted the company. Coward would not say when, why or how often the FBI has reached out to Carrier IQ, but he said the company is not working with the bureau. “There is no relationship between us and the FBI,” Coward said.

During an oversight hearing Wednesday, Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the FBI “neither sought nor obtained any information from Carrier IQ in any one of our investigations.” Mueller was responding to a question by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., chairman of the committee’s privacy and technology panel, who has said collecting personal information from people’s cellphones could violate federal law.

FBI spokesman Michael Kortan said in an emailed statement that the bureau’s technical staff “communicates routinely with many technology companies, including Carrier IQ, relative to new and emerging technologiesand capabilities.”

The company’s technology is designed as a diagnostic tool that gives mobiletelephone companies the ability to gather and analyze information that helps them improve the performance of devices that operate on their networks, Carrier IQ said. The software is typically installed by the phone company or the manufacturer of the handset.

Most cellphone users were unaware the company or its software existed until last month when a security researcher, Trevor Eckhart, posted online a video he made showing how keystrokes and messages from his smartphone were logged by the Carrier IQ software.

Eckhart said the software is hard to detect and difficult to turn off. Other researchers who subsequently studied Carrier IQ’s software said it does not appear to transmit the contents of emails or text messages but captures detailed information about recipients or destinations of messages, the physical location from where messages were sent or received and details such as the phone’s battery level.

Even before Thursday’s disclosure by Carrier IQ about the FBI contacting the company, the FBI had fueled questions about whether it sought to use the monitoring software in federal investigations or even whether it was investigating Carrier IQ. The FBI denied a request the AP made on Dec. 2 for internal documents about its interactions with Carrier IQ, citing a provision in the Freedom of Information Act that excludes from disclosure any documents relevant to a “pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding.” The FBI also told the AP that releasing the records that it sought could “reasonably be expected to interfere with the enforcement proceedings.”

The AP had asked for copies of correspondence from FBI officials requesting access to information stored on Carrier IQ’s servers or asking questions about such information. The AP also requested copies of records indicating visits by FBI officials to Carrier IQ’s offices and the results of any testing performed by the FBI on Carrier IQ’s technology.

Eckhart’s online video sparked concerns among privacy advocates about which information Carrier IQ’s software is recording and who can view it. In late November, Franken wrote to Carrier IQ’s president and asked him to answer a series of questions by Dec. 14 about the kind of data that the software can collect, how long the data is stored and whether any of this information is shared with third parties.

“These actions may violate federal privacy laws, including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act,” Franken wrote. “This is potentially a very serious matter.”

A few days later, Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, co-chairman of the Congressional Bipartisan Privacy Caucus, asked the Federal Trade Commission whether it was investigating “the installation of software that secretly tracks and reports back the activities of cellphone users.”

Earlier this week, Carrier IQ sought to contain the damage by organizing meetings with officials at the FTC, the Federal Communications Commission and several Senate offices, including Franken’s, to explain what the software is intended to do. The company said it is not aware of an official investigation into its products or practices.

“Our data is not designed for law enforcement agencies and to our knowledge has never been used by law enforcement agencies,” the company said in a statement. “Carrier IQ have no rights to the data gathered and have not passed data to third parties. Should a law enforcement agency request data from us, we would refer them to the network operators. To date and to our knowledge we have received no such requests.”

The company posted a 19-page statement on its website that explains what its software does. It said the only data collected is to help solve common problems, such as batteries that drain too quickly or calls that fail to connect.

The software, called IQ Agent, typically transmits 200 kilobytes of diagnostic data – the equivalent of 50 typed pages – once each day when the phone is not being used, the company said, but decisions about what information to collect and how it is analyzed is determined by the phone companies and the agreements they have with their customers.

(c) 2011

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Fujitsu develops distributed and parallel complex event processing technology that rapidly adjusts big data load fluctua

Posted: 16 Dec 2011 02:33 PM PST

Fujitsu develops distributed and parallel complex event processing technology that rapidly adjusts big data load fluctua

Fujitsu today announced that, in an industry first, they have developed complex event processing technology designed for use with cloud technology that employs distributed and parallel processing. This enables rapid adjustment to fluctuations in data loads when processing massive amounts of heterogeneous time series data, now popularly known as “big data.”

Fujitsu develops distributed and parallel complex event processing technology that rapidly adjusts big data load fluctuaFigure 1: Structure of Complex Event Processing

Today there is an ever-increasing amount of large-volume, heterogeneous time series data, such as sensor data and human location data. To analyze this big data at high speed in order to put it to use, complex event processing technology has been developed. With complex event processing, high-speed processing of fluctuating levels of large-scale time series data is required, but up until now it has been difficult to adjust to load fluctuations without pausing the processing operation.

In the development announced today, however, applying distributed andparallel processing technology to complex event processing enables ever-greater granularity in processing. And with dynamic distribution during execution and very high speeds, immediate adjustments in load fluctuations were achieved without the need to pause processing. As a result, athroughput function of five million events per second was achieved, and an unprecedented level of time series data was able to be continuously analyzed in real time. This is one of the technologies that will be put to use to support human-centric computing, which will provide precisely targeted services anywhere.

This research was supported in part by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Project for the Program to develop and demonstrate basic technology for next-generation high-reliability, energy-saving IT equipment for fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2011.

Complex event processing is a method for mining big data in real time to extract useful information. Methods of processing a large volume of data using a database, for which the data first need to be stored on some medium, such as a disk, are therefore not suitable for real-time processing. By contrast, as shown in Figure 1, with complex event processing, multiple inputs of time series data are processed in memory based upon pre-defined rules (known as “queries”), enabling extremely fast processing compared to methods database storage.

In recent years, the amount of large-volume, heterogeneous data, as represented by such time series data as sensor data and human location data, continues to grow at an explosive pace. There is a strong demand to take this type of “big data” and efficiently extract valuable data that can be put to immediate use in delivering services, such as various navigation services.

Fujitsu develops distributed and parallel complex event processing technology that rapidly adjusts big data load fluctua

Figure 2: Basic Structure of Distributed and Parallel Complex Event Processing

Complex event processing technology has been used to quickly analyze time series data and put the results to use. However, until now it has been technologically challenging to continuously process incoming time series data in real time, while simultaneously performing high-speed transfers across servers of in-memory data that is still being analyzed and processed.


As a result, in the case of significant fluctuations in time series data due to seasonal and time variations or the occurrence of natural disasters and accidents, there has been a need to either estimate and configure in advance the resources required to accommodate peak load times, or alternatively, to pause the complex event processing and make modifications to the system configuration.

The newly developed complex event processing technology is able to dynamically apply distributed and parallel processing technology to address load variations. This technology enhances the granularity of processing and can transfer this finer processing across servers, as well as be configured based on technology that selects the optimum candidate processing to be transferred. As a result, time series data load fluctuations are adapted to swiftly, and together with entire event processing that can dynamically scale out or shrink (scale in) across servers, the processing speeds are also raised. Features of the newly developed technology are as follows.

1. Distributed and parallel processing technology-based dynamic load distribution for complex event processing

As shown in Figure 2, unit-based management of complex event processing takes each query and the data parallelization of each query, and then refines it into smaller parts. As methods of dynamic load distribution, both data parallel distribution and query distribution are realized. This makes possible dynamic distribution processing in real time that can adjust to load fluctuations within a limited range of resources. In addition, in the case of processing simple queries, high-throughput of 5 million events per second was achieved.

2. Technology that optimally selects migration processing candidates depending on the status of load fluctuations

Based on the speed of load fluctuations, the properties of each event or query, or the status of the processing load, Fujitsu developed technology that enables the effective distribution of loads and that migrates processing tasks for which the impact of the migration is lowest. As an example, queries that are closely related are, to the extent possible, allocated in the same server, enabling the maintenance of high-speed processing.

Fujitsu develops distributed and parallel complex event processing technology that rapidly adjusts big data load fluctua

Figure 3: Reference Application of Distributed and Parallel Complex Event Processing Technology

The new technology, which will support the creation of human-centric computing in which fine-grained services are offered in all areas of daily life, makes it possible when processing big data to maintain high processing performance and accommodate fluctuations in processing loads without pausing the processing operations. As a result, as illustrated in Figure 3, it will be possible to develop services that provide non-stop analysis—in real time and using only the necessary resources—of the large-scale time series data by leveraging in-house facility (on-premise) systems. In addition, given the flexibility to flexibly alter configurations, the need for strict estimates of the resources is eliminated and will be accessible for even small-scale operations.


Fujitsu aims to bring products employing the new technology to market during fiscal 2012. The company will proceed with deploying the technology in a wide range of applications, such as its middleware products and Convergence Service Platform, which enables the utilization of valuable data generated through the process of collecting, accumulating and analyzing large volumes of sensor data.

(c) 2011

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