19:55 PM

Newswatch: Privacy Advocates Pressure Big Companies -Reuters

Tuesday 8am Silicon Valley news report:

FTC says Internet firms near "last chance" -Reuters

Companies that track consumer behavior on the Web for targeted advertising without proper consent are near their "last chance" to self-regulate, the head of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Monday.

Singularity 101 with Vernor Vinge -hplus

The contemporary notion of the Singularity got started with legendary SF writer Vernor Vinge, whose 1981 novella True Names pictured a society on the verge of this “event.” In a 1993 essay, “The Coming Technological Singularity,” Vinge made his vision clear, writing that “within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.”

Obama promises major investment in science -SFGate

And he set forth a wish list including solar cells as cheap as paint; green buildings that produce all the energy they consume; learning software as effective as a personal tutor; prosthetics so advanced that you could play the piano again and "an expansion of the frontiers of human knowledge about ourselves and world the around us."

G.E.’s Breakthrough Can Put 100 DVDs on a Disc -NYTimes

To date, holographic storage has not been on a path to mainstream use. The G.E. development, however, could be that pioneering step, according to analysts and experts. The G.E. researchers have used a different approach than past efforts. It relies on smaller, less complex holograms — a technique called microholographic storage.

Facebook Lets Others Tap Its Information Stream -NYTimes

The company announced the Facebook Open Stream API, a program that will allow third-party developers to create applications that pull in Facebook “streams” -– the current of status updates, photos and links that members see when they visit the service.

Verizon Says No News on iPhone, Netbooks -WSJ

...Denny Strigl, Verizon’s president and operating chief, said there are no announcements to make. “We have said in the past we are always open to discussions with any suppliers,” he said during the call. He added that Verizon “historically” has not been dependent on any one device, and that smart phones and PDA sales represented 41% of its direct device sales this quarter.

Posit Science raises $5.6M for brain fitness software -NYTimes

So far, it has two software packages on the market: Brain Fitness (see right), used to preserve cognitive function (memory, concentration, troubleshooting), andInSight , used to keep visual perception sharp so that seniors can continue to drive. With sales of both these products up for the first quarter, the company says the recent round of funding should be enough to put it in the black.

Bankruptcies soaring as tech workers join ranks of unemployed -MercuryNews

"It's not just Realtors and mortgage brokers" who are seeing their incomes shrink, said San Jose bankruptcy lawyer James Shulman. "We're seeing cutbacks in electronics and at Sun, Yahoo — large numbers of people are having their income cut, and for many it's making their house unaffordable," he said.

Scotts Valley company markets its first electric street motorcycle -MercuryNews

Zero is not the only maker of electric motorcycles, but it's the first to put a street model on the market. Brammo, of Ashland, Ore., has a slightly more expensive electric street motorcycle that is headed for sale at Best Buy, and Quantya, of Switzerland, is developing a dual street-dirt model. Closer to home, Mission Motors in San Francisco is preparing a limited edition of a high-performance electric street bike.

Konami cancels Fallujah battle recreation video game -SFGate

"After seeing the reaction to the videogame in the United States and hearing opinions sent through phone calls and e-mail, we decided several days ago not to sell it," a public relations official of Konami told Asahi. "We had intended to convey the reality of the battles to players so that they could feel what it was like to be there."

Amazon.com buys Stanza e-book app maker Lexcycle -AP

Kindle e-book retailer Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) (AMZN) has purchased Lexcycle, a year-old company that makes the iPhone e-book application Stanza, in a move that ratchets up Amazon's presence in the electronic book market.

Conficker adds new weapon: spam -AP

Researchers from Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) (CSCO) say some of the up to 12 million personal computers infected by Conficker are being used to send about 10,000 to 20,000 spam e-mails a day per computer, far less than they actually are capable of.

Apple Says No to Netbooks -NYTimes

Earlier this month, colleagues Ashlee Vance and Matt Richtel, in a Times business story, called netbooks “the next stage in the personal computer revolution,” with some expected to sell for less than $100 by the end of the year, and that the market shift would put pressure on companies like Intel and Microsoft.

Samsung plans first Android phone for Europe -Reuters

South Korea's Samsung follows Taiwan's HTC Corp, the first to launch a phone based on the Android system last year. HTC has an exclusive agreement to sell its next Generation Android phone via Vodafone Group Plc in four countries this Spring.

British government backs down over database plan -AP

The British government said Monday it wants communications companies to keep records of every phone call, e-mail and Web site visit made in the country. But it has decided not to set up a national database of the information, a proposal that had been condemned as a "Big Brother"-style invasion of privacy by civil liberties groups.

All-electric cars about to be resurrected -SFGate

"The electric car is clearly on its way back," said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the magazine Green Car Journal, which covers the alternative energy auto industry. "Every automaker and battery company has been making incremental breakthroughs" in technology.

iPhone is Boosting Demand For Location-Based Services -GIGaom

“Thanks to the popularity of iPhone, we are seeing more and more apps using geo-data,” Morgan pointed out. For instance, game developers are using geolocation data to build location-based leader boards. “The iPhone has unleashed location-based creativity,” he said. Last year, I pointed out that “in order for LBS to be on mobile phones, we need applications, which is where I believe the iPhone plays a vital role.

Apple and Verizon consider iPhone deal -USAToday

The New York-based telecom entered into "high-level" discussions with Apple management a few months ago, when CEO Steve Jobs was overseeing day-to-day business, these sources say. They declined to be named because they aren't authorized to speak publicly.

Forget Fart Apps — the Sweet-Smelling Growth Is in LBS -NYTimes

What started with accessing data nearly anywhere as morphed into providing our social networks with text updates first, then real-time pics and videos and now with offering our location while we “fart” and Tweet all around the town.