Roland’s Sunday Smart Trends #241
November 23rd, 2008

An Algorithm with No Secrets

Cryptographers from around the world have laid their best work on the line in a contest to find a new algorithm that will become a critical part of future communications across the Internet. The winning code will become a building block of a wide variety of Internet protocols, including those used to safeguard communications between banks and their customers. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) organized the competition and plans to release a short list of the best entries by the end of this month, beginning a four-year process of painstaking analysis to find the overall winner.
Source: Erica Naone, Technology Review, November 18, 2008

Web Sites That Dig for News Rise as Watchdogs

As America’s newspapers shrink and shed staff, and broadcast news outlets sink in the ratings, a new kind of Web-based news operation has arisen in several cities, forcing the papers to follow the stories they uncover. Here it is, offering a brand of serious, original reporting by professional journalists — the province of the traditional media, but at a much lower cost of doing business. Since it began in 2005, similar operations have cropped up in New Haven, the Twin Cities, Seattle, St. Louis and Chicago. More are on the way.
Source: Richard Pérez-Peña, The New York Times, November 17, 2008

‘Interplanetary internet’ passes first test

NASA has finished its first deep-space test of what could become an ‘interplanetary internet’. The new networking commands could one day be used to automatically relay information between Earth, spacecraft, and astronauts, without the need for humans to schedule transmissions at each point.
Source: Rachel Courtland, New Scientist, November 19, 2008

Monty Python launches its own YouTube channel

The comedy troupe said they wanted to “get their own back” on people who had been illegally uploading their sketches onto the site by taking matters into their own hands. “We know who you are, we know where you live and we could come after you in ways too horrible to tell,” they wrote in a light-hearted message introducing the channel.
[Note: This channel is at]
Source: Matthew Moore, The Telegraph, November 20, 2008

Track your fitness, environmental impact with new cell phone applications

Researchers at the University of Washington and Intel have created two new cell phone applications, dubbed UbiFit and UbiGreen, to automatically track workouts and green transportation. The programs display motivational pictures on the phone’s background screen that change the more the user works out or uses eco-friendly means of transportation.
Source: University of Washington News, November 19, 2008

Google SearchWiki brings custom search results

Disagree with Google’s search results? You’ll be able to do something about it with a change the company plans to release starting Thursday. Google’s SearchWiki is a feature that lets people elevate, delete, add, and annotate search results. Google remembers the changes a person made to search results, so repeat searches will show the same customizations and notes.
Source: Stephen Shankland, CNET’s Webware, November 20, 2008

YouTube videos go HD with a simple hack

Wired, with the help of users on the VR-Zone forums, has uncovered a simple way to get high-quality uploaded videos to display in 1280×720–also known as 720p.
YouTube has long been expected to roll out high-definition video playback, and this appears to be the first viable way to do it. The hack in question is similar to the one that was first used to toggle on the “high quality” mode. It is done simply by adding “&fmt=22” to the end of the video URL.
Source: Josh Lowensohn, CNET’s Webware, November 20, 2008

New European online library crashes under weight of interest

The EU’s new Europeana digital library has swiftly become a victim of its own success, forced to shut down for weeks within hours of its launch due to the enormous amount of interest. The Europeana digital library, an online collection of Europe’s cultural heritage, was launched to great fanfare on Thursday. Immediately after the website got up and running it was swamped by an unexpected 10 million user hits per hour, swiftly bringing the system to a crashing halt.
[Note: The site is at and will be unavailable until mid-December.]
Source: AFP, November 21, 2008

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