Technology as a way of life

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser...

(Reuters) - Microsoft is buying N-trig, an Israeli provider of digital pens and chips for touch screens, for at least $200 million, the Calcalist financial news website said on Thursday.
Most of N-trig's 190 workers will be integrated into Microsoft Israel and will be part of a new research and development center, Calcalist said, without citing sources.
Officials at N-trig and Microsoft in Israel could not be reached for comment.

Customers for N-trig's technology include Sony, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo for use in smartphones, tablets and ultrabooks.

N-trig was valued at $75 million when it raised money privately last February.
N-trig had revenue of $36.7 million in 2013, up 38 percent from 2012. Revenue totaled $20.6 million in the first half of 2014, when it sold 1.3 million digital pens, more than three times the amount it sold in the same period of 2013.

Microsoft, which owns 6.1 percent of the company, signed a deal last year to integrate N-trig' s pen in its Surface Pro 3 tablets. Other investors in the company include Evergreen Venture Partners, Canaan Partners and Tamares.

NASA's newest robotic explorer rocketed into space in an unprecedented moonshot from Virginia that dazzled sky watchers along the East Coast of the U.S.


LADEE, which is the size of a small car, is expected to reach the moon on Oct. 6.
Scientists want to learn the composition of the moon's ever-so-delicate atmosphere and how it might change over time. Another puzzle, dating back decades, is whether dust actually levitates from the lunar surface.

The $280 million moon-orbiting mission will last six months and end with a suicide plunge into the moon for LADEE. The 844-pound (380-kilogram) spacecraft has three science instruments as well as laser communication test equipment that could revolutionize data relay. NASA hopes to eventually replace its traditional radio systems with laser communications, which would mean faster bandwidth using significantly less power and smaller devices.

"There's no question that as we send humans farther out into the solar system, certainly to Mars," that laser communications will be needed to send high-definition and 3-D video, said NASA's science mission chief, John Grunsfeld, a former astronaut who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope.

Leaks by former security contractor Edward Snowden show the National Security Agency has cracked into Internet communications previously believed to be protected by the use of encryption.

The New York Times, Pro Publica and The Guardian, working in partnership on the story, reported that documents obtained from Snowden show that the NSA and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) successfully broke through encryption barriers in 2010.
"Vast amounts of encrypted Internet data which have up till now been discarded are now exploitable," the reports said, citing one of the GCHQ documents.

The documents reportedly show that the NSA's anti-encryption methods are closely guarded, and analysts are told, "Do not ask about or speculate on sources or methods," The Guardian reported.
The leaked documents also reveal that -- aside from using supercomputers and court orders -- the NSA would spend as much as $250 million per year to "covertly influence" tech companies to create loopholes in their products so the U.S. agency can easily access user information.
The latest revelations follow months of ongoing leaks from Snowden, who is now in Russia on a temporary asylum visa, exposing the NSA's efforts to collect data on civilians in the U.S. and abroad by tapping phone calls and Internet activity.

The NSA, for its part, told in an emailed statement that "it should hardly be surprising that our intelligence agencies seek ways to counteract our adversaries' use of encryption. Throughout history, nations have used encryption to protect their secrets, and today terrorists, cybercriminals, human traffickers and others also use code to hide their activities. Our intelligence community would not be doing its job if we did not try to counter that."

The agency said that its deciphering of encrypted communications "is not a secret, and is not news," and that "anything that yesterday's disclosures add to the ongoing public debate is outweighed by the road map they give to our adversaries about the specific techniques we are using to try to intercept their communications in our attempts to keep America and our allies safe."

(Reuters) - Inspired by a standard office inkjet printer, U.S. researchers have rigged up a device that can spray skin cells directly onto burn victims, quickly protecting and healing their wounds as an alternative to skin grafts.

They have mounted the device, which has so far only been tested on mice, in a frame that can be wheeled over a patient in a hospital bed, they reported on Wednesday.

A laser can take a reading of the wound's size and shape so that a layer of healing skin cells can be precisely applied, said the team at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

"We literally print the cells directly onto the wound," said student Kyle Binder, who helped design the device. "We can put specific cells where they need to go."

Tests on mice showed the spray system, called bioprinting, could heal wounds quickly and safely, the researchers reported at the Translational Regenerative Medicine Forumb.

"We were able to close the entire wound in two weeks," Binder said. Mice with plugs of skin removed that were not treated took five weeks to heal, he said.

The team will eventually seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to test the device on humans, said George Christ, a professor of regenerative medicine at the school.

They are working with the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine to come up with ways to help soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. It could be used to close various types of wounds as well as burns.

Binder and colleagues dissolved human skin cells from pieces of skin, separating and purifying the various cell types such as fibroblasts and keratinocytes.

They put them in a nutritious solution to make them multiply and then used a system similar to a multicolor office inkjet printer to apply first a layer of fibroblasts and then a layer of keratinocytes, which form the protective outer layer of skin.

The wound on the mouse was completely closed by three weeks, they reported. Experts say victims of massive burns usually die of infection within two weeks unless they receive skin grafts, and normal grafting often leaves severe scars.

The sprayed cells also incorporated themselves into surrounding skin, hair follicles and sebaceous glands, probably because immature cells called stem cells were mixed in with the sprayed cells, the researchers said.
"You have to give a lot of credit to the cells. When you put them into the wound, they know what to do," Binder said.

The next step is to try the system on pigs, whose skin more closely resembles the skin of humans. Binder said it may also be useful for treating diabetic foot ulcers, a common problem.

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Stressed by waiting for your computer to update information or download photos, music or videos? You could be suffering from Hourglass Syndrome.

A survey commissioned by Intel shows that 66 percent of computer users are at least somewhat stressed by slow-poke technology and 23 percent described themselves as very or extremely stressed.
"We found that 41 percent of adults said they are waiting for the computer to catch up with them and they are stressing out while waiting," said Agnes Kwan, of Intel which develops processor technology, said referring to survey results.

Kwan added that so-called Hourglass Syndrome is a collective term for the frustration that stressed computer users are facing as they watch the little hourglass spin while waiting for the program to open or a website to load.
"In an extreme case, four percent of users said they had to wait one to three hours for the computer to catch up with them. During that wait it would create stress for them if they have limited time to do the task," she added.

With the advent of Facebook and Twitter, as well as video and music websites, consumers are using computers for many more applications than they did just a few years ago. Some aging computers cannot keep pace as quickly as their owners would like, leading to stress and frustration.

The findings are based on a Harris poll for Intel of 2,315 people in the United States. The average computer user spends about 13 minutes per day waiting for their technology to catch up to them, which equates to up to three days a year just waiting, according to Intel.

Windows 7 fairing far batter than Windows Vista in early adoption.

Consumers and businesses are much warmer towards Windows 7 than they were towards Windows Vista – and the numbers are showing it.

According to data collected by Net Applications, relayed by Ars Technica, Windows 7 now has a greater than 10 percent market share amongst internet users.
While this it still represents the smallest piece of the current Windows pie, historical comparisons show that the uptake of Windows 7 is more than twice of what Windows Vista did in its first five months of availability.

CUPERTINO, Calif. – Apple Inc.'s iPhone and iPad devices will soon be able to run more than one program at a time, an ability that phones from Apple's rivals already offer and that iPhone owners have long sought.

The changes, coming this summer to iPhones and this fall to iPads, mean that users might be able to listen to music through the Pandora program and check a bank account online simultaneously. Currently, users must return to Apple's home screen, effectively quitting the open program, before starting a new task.
"We weren't the first to this party, but we're going to be the best," Apple CEO Steve Jobs declared Thursday, as bloggers,software developers and others in the audience greeted the news of such "multitasking" with applause.

The iPhone already permits some multitasking, but that's largely limited to Apple's own programs. Apple had not given users ways to seamlessly switch among all the software "apps" available from outside software companies, the way phones from rivals Palm Inc. and Google Inc. already do.
That will change with the updates known as iPhone OS 4. Apple generally makes such updates available for free, and often automatically, as a software download.

"It really changes the way you use the iPhone," Jobs said. "You're bouncing around the apps with tremendous fluidity."

Jobs said the company waited so long because it wanted to offer multitasking in a way that didn't drain the iPhone's battery or reduce the phone's performance.
In demonstrating the feature, Jobs double-tapped on the iPhone's main button while playing a game to reveal a row of icons for other programs that were quietly running in the background and accessible with a finger tap.

Multitasking could enhance the functionality of Internet phone services such as Skype. Currently, a call automatically ends if you exit the Skype app. With multitasking, that call could continue while you look up directions, or you could receive incoming Skype calls even if you're reading the news or a "Gossip Girl" blog instead.

Full multitasking had been high on many people's wish lists. Because Apple's new iPad runs the same software as the iPhone, changes would apply to that larger gadget as well. Some people have held off buying one because of its inability to run more than one program at once.
Other updates include the ability to have messages from multiple e-mail accounts land in a single inbox and a way to connect an iPhone with a regular keyboard using Bluetooth wireless technology.

But Apple still won't support Flash technology, even though many Web sites require it for displaying video. Flash was alongside multitasking at the top of many wish lists.
Although Apple is making the updates available to all iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad models, some features will only work with newer versions. The multitasking function, for example, won't work with the original iPhone or the iPhone 3G — only the 3GS versions that came out last summer. For the iPod Touch, you'd need the models that came out late last year.

Jobs also announced an advertising platform called iAd in which Apple will sell and host ads to run on apps made by outside developers; those developers will get 60 percent of the ad revenue. Jobs said users shouldn't find the ads annoying because Apple will make it easy for people to navigate back to what they were doing before clicking.

He admitted that Apple is still "babes in woods" when it comes to advertising, though the company is learning fast through Quattro Wireless, a mobile advertising company that Apple bought in January for an undisclosed amount. Jobs said the company had wanted to buy mobile advertising service AdMob, but lost out to Google. That deal is undergoing regulatory review.

Jobs also said the company has sold 450,000 iPads since its launch Saturday. The company earlier said it delivered more than 300,000 iPads on the first day, though that included pre-orders and units shipped to retail stores such as Best Buy but not necessarily purchased right away.
The iPad models currently on sale connect to the Internet using Wi-Fi, at prices that start at $499.
Shares of Apple fell 65 cents to close Thursday at $239.95.