Free software aims to end wasteful printing

Thursday, January 31, 2008

US printing software vendor GreenPrint has this week launched a free downloadable version of its paper saving software package for home users and non-profit organisations.
The company said that if the free GreenPrint World edition was deployed widely it has the potential to save 100m trees and cut carbon emissions by 300m tons a year globally.
GreenPrint's software works by identifying and removing typically unnecessary content on documents sent to printers, such as pages with just urls, banner ads, logos or legal jargon. It also allows users to identify and remove unwanted material from a document with a single click, and provides them with a report quantifying their ecological and cost savings.
The company estimates that the functionality saves the average user over $90 and 1,400 wasted pages per year.
"Our goal is nothing short of ending wasteful printing worldwide," said CEO Hayden Hamilton, "We believe that GreenPrint World provides the opportunity to do exactly that. It gives home users everywhere the ability to eliminate waste which helps the environment as well as their wallets."
The World Edition includes advertising and boasts fewer features than the licensed versions such as the
Enterprise edition, which provides detailed information on paper saved across the entire company.


Bill Gates’ makes swansong speech at CES

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates announced a new partnership with NBC and discussed future details on Microsoft’s direction post the digital decade.

Gates made his first speech at CES in 1994 and since then has used the event to launch technology such as the Media Centre PC, the SmartPhone and the Xbox. This year Gates announced a partnership with NBC Universal where NBC will use to host this year’s Olympics from Beijing. Microsoft’s Silverlight technology will also be used to allow viewers to watch additional footage.

Gates’ focussed his CES discussion last year on Microsoft’s new generation of connected experience. Now, Gates said, the direction will extend to providing people with tools to stay connected from wherever they are.

Gates predicted an advance in services, enabled by three key elements, which will be delivered through applications running on Microsoft delivered platforms.

The first element Gates mentioned was the growth of high definition experience, which will mean many web experiences become 3D enabled. Gates gave examples of walking through a store and meeting people in a social environment.

Also, Gates said all rich devices will be service connected. “No longer will users have to try and bridge devices and remember what’s where,” Gates said. Instead when you pick up any device, even if it is new or borrowed, as soon as you authenticate you will be instantly connected to your information, Gates said.

The final element mentioned by Gates and one that he said “people underestimate the most,” was the “power of the natural user interface”. Gates pointed to the emergence of touch on Windows and the iPhone, as well as the voice activated Ford SYNC, which is powered by Microsoft Auto software. “People are interested in a simpler way of navigation,” Gates said, adding that “this is something the software industry will work on.”

Gates believes the elements are the result of long term research and innovation that has been carried out over the previous years.

During his speech, Gates also revealed numbers on people using certain Microsoft applications: Vista has 100m users, Windows Live has 420m and Windows Mobile has 20m.

The highlight of the event was Gates’ leaving video speculating on what might become of him once he steps down from his full time position at Microsoft. The video shows Gates attempting to be a star in rock, rap, movies and politics and features numerous Hollywood stars, as well as past and present US presidential candidates.

The reality is that Gates will now concentrate his efforts on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is focussed on delivering global health and education and has an asset trust fund amount of 37.6bn dollars. Gates will also continue to advise on a number of projects at Microsoft. Causes mentioned were: fighting diseases in Africa, boosting America’s graduation rates, and helping women start businesses.


PayPal Buys Fraud Sciences for $169M

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

EBay's online payments division, PayPal, will pay US$169 million for an Israeli security company specializing in detecting online fraud, the companies said Monday. The deal should close within 30 days.
Fraud Sciences, a private company, has developed technology designed to differentiate between real and fraudulent transactions. That technology will be folded into PayPal's antifraud systems, which will be "significantly" improved this year, eBay said.
Fraud Sciences' Chief Operating Officer, Yossi Barak, and founders Shvat Shaked and Saar Wilf will move to PayPal's technology and fraud management teams.
PayPal lets two users exchange money online via e-mail addresses. The ease at which people can transfer money has also made it one of the most highly targeted brands for phishing scams, where fraudulent Web sites mimicking real sites are set up in order to steal people's log-in details.
PayPal has taken other steps to shore up its defenses. Early last year, it began offering a keychain with a one-time numeric passcode that users enter in addition to their log-in and password. The passcode expires after 30-seconds, which greatly reduces a hacker's window of opportunity to get access to someone's account.
PayPal has also pushed for free e-mail providers to block e-mail sent without digital signatures. That would potentially mean fewer scam e-mails would land in people's inboxes, reducing the chance of fraud, although providers have yet to make a unified commitment.


IBM Adds Linux Apps Support to Unix Servers

IBM has added a new capability to its virtualization platform that will allow Linux applications to run on IBM's Unix servers, the company announced Tuesday.
The "Lx86" capability, to be included in IBM's PowerVM virtualization software, allows x86-based Linux applications to run on IBM's System p and Power-based Unix systems without modification, according to IBM. The systems will automatically detect and run Linux-based binaries designed for x86 environments.
"Lx86 is a way to say 'Whatever you have, it can run," said Scott Handy, vice president of marketing and strategy for IBM Power Systems.
The capability will simplify the consolidation of Unix and Linux server sprawls, Handy said. Running Linux applications in the Unix environment can reduce the cost of server consolidation and energy consumption and increase asset utilization, he argued.
Lx86 will be a useful tool for people looking to migrate from Linux systems to other IBM systems, IBM said. The company offers both Unix and Linux operating systems on its servers.
The capability will be included in all editions of IBM's PowerVM platform, which it also renamed Tuesday from the Advanced Power Virtualization platform.
The software now includes an Express edition targeted at small- and medium-size businesses. It allows customers to create up to three partitions on a server and control the use of processor cycles to get optimal performance. The Express edition will be shipped to customers soon, priced at US$40 per core. PowerVM is also available in Standard and Enterprise editions.
IBM also announced that it will update its i5/OS operating system with support for Power6 processors. The update, called V6R1, includes improved performance, storage and security features, according to IBM.
The update supports IBM's Power6 EnergyScale technology for controlling energy use. The company also updated its Rational software tool set for the i5/OS.
The i5/OS V6R1, for IBM's System i servers, will ship in March.


California Company Introduces New Mobile Linux Platform

Another mobile Linux platform, this time from Azingo, hit the market on Wednesday, joining an increasingly crowded market of Linux phone software.
Formerly called Celunite, Azingo aims to differentiate itself from the crowd by offering phone makers an entire package, including kernel, middleware, applications, development tools and integration services.
"Mobile Linux has failed because there's a big integration problem," said Michael Mclaughlin, marketing director at Azingo. "People come with piece parts."
For example, companies like Montavista and Wind River make mobile Linux kernels while others like Trolltech, purchased by Nokia just this week, make application development environments. Phone makers typically must buy the different components and then struggle to integrate them. That puts mobile Linux at a disadvantage against some other mobile platforms, like Windows Mobile, which comes complete, he said.
Azingo is offering a complete suite of mobile Linux software but will also help customers integrate different pieces if they choose components from different vendors, said Mclaughlin.
The applications Azingo offers as part of the platform include Web widgets that can deliver information such as weather and traffic, entertainment applications such as video and audio players, and productivity software like e-mail.
Azingo hasn't announced any deals with handset makers planning to use its software. Mclaughlin said the company has been working with some of the well-known vendors and expects handsets running its software to ship in the fourth quarter.
The company isn't the only one offering the market a complete suite of mobile Linux software. A La Mobile has a similar approach, using some of its own software and integrating components from other vendors including Trolltech. GUPP Technologies, a Malaysian company, announced in 2006 that it would use A La Mobile's platform.
Azingo will also compete against Android, Google's high profile Linux-based mobile phone operating platform, which includes an operating system, middleware and applications. Android phones are expected to become available in the second half of this year.
Azingo is a member of the LiMo Foundation, a group founded by Motorola, NTT DoCoMo, Vodafone, Samsung and others to build a mobile Linux platform.


Google Introduces New Views for Searches

Google give users the opportunity to try new ways of using its search engine, according to the company's Tech Lead on the project.Part 1 of a special five-part series.

Google Inc. is giving users the opportunity to try new ways of using its search engine, according to Andrew Hogue, Tech Lead on the project.
"There have been a lot of recent improvements to Web search, but the appearance of results themselves has been pretty constant -- 10 or so Web pages in a vertical list," Hogue said in a blog post. "Frequently this is exactly the right format, but for some searches you need more options and more control. That's why we've created our experimental search page to let you try out some of our newest ideas."
The company announced three experimental ways to conduct searches that alter the way results are shown. The company is asking users to provide feedback on its new alternative views.

Map View

The first option, called "map view," typically displays information about a location if one of the Web pages contains a map.
For example, say you're searching for information about environmental conferences in your state, or maybe you want to find out where your favorite movie is playing. Although that information is on the Web and accessible via a regular Web search, it's probably spread out over many sites and pages, Hogue said in the blog. Unless one of the pages that the search engine serves up has a map on it, you might have a hard time visualizing all the locations at once.
The new map view feature plots some of the key locations from the results of your Web search and displays them on a map, according to the blog.

Timeline View

The "timeline view" does the same thing for dates found on the Web as the map view does for locations. The timeline includes dates of historic events, or biographical information that are automatically generated from a user's search results, Hogue said.

Info View

The third option, called "info view," works in a slightly different way, he said. This view doesn't change the way search results are displayed, but it adds a small box, or control panel, on the right side of the page that contains dates, locations, measurements or images.
"For example, selecting 'dates' from the control panel reveals the date of the Sputnik launch in the first result for 'space exploration,' according to the blog. "If you run a search and find many of your results are looking similar, try using info view. It may highlight the differences between results and help you select the best page for your needs."
Google is asking users to provide feedback on its new alternative views.


The Next 25 Years in Tech

PCs may disappear from your desk by 2033. But with digital technology showing up everywhere else--including inside your body--computing will only get more personal.Part 1 of a special five-part series. -->
Dan Tynan

The Incredible Disappearing PC

Whether you have a PC on your desk in 10 to 15 years will be a matter of choice, not necessity. If you do, it will be vastly more powerful than your current system, thanks to advances in nanotechnology, says Doug Tougaw, an engineering professor at Valparaiso University who is developing nanocomputers.
"We're getting closer to our goal of creating computers that are a thousand times faster and smaller and use one-thousandth of the energy of today's computers," Tougaw reports. "As processors get smaller, they'll be embedded into more things. We'll also use standard-size machines packed with hundreds of chips. So we'll have very intelligent consumer products and unbelievably powerful PCs."
Computers using nanotechnology will debut in about five years, he says. Five to ten years after that, silicon will reach a point at which quantum mechanics won't allow chip pathways to get any smaller, so electric-current-based PCs will give way to optical computers that transmit streams of light instead of electrons, or perhaps to quantum computers that rely on the strange physics of atomic particles to deliver processing brawn.
"Starting around the year 2018, we'll have optical computers that operate at the speed of light, sending thousands of message streams down a single channel," says William Halal, professor emeritus at George Washington University and author of Technology's Promise: Expert Knowledge on the Coming Transformation of Society, to be published in April.
Most of tomorrow's CPU muscle will go toward making the user interface seamless and ubiquitous. Keyboards and mice may persist, but they'll become secondary to voice and gesture.
Gesture-based interfaces are catching on fast. The
Nintendo Wii's gesture-based controllers are one example. And the iPhone's touch screen responds differently to finger taps than to swipes; Apple rolled similar technology into its MacBook Air's touchpad in January. GestureTek uses the input from camera phones to deliver gesture control.
Once freed from the keyboard, you'll be able to talk or gesture to your computer from virtually any display in your home. Or you may carry your pocket-size computer with you and beam the image to a nanocomputer embedded in the nearest wall-size screen. Paper-thin displays are inching closer to reality, too. Late last year, Sony released its $2500, 11-inch XEL-1 organic light-emitting diode (OLED) HDTVs; and at January's Consumer Electronics Show, the company presented a prototype 27-inch OLED HDTV.
Meanwhile, what you see on screen will look a lot more like real life than in present-day 3D virtual worlds, predicts Halal. "When you want to buy a book, instead of going to Amazon's home page, you'll be greeted by a virtual salesperson," Halal says. "The avatar will find the book you're looking for and conduct the transaction, just as you would with a real person."
Michael Liebhold, senior researcher at Palo Alto, California's Institute for the Future, says your PC may project a holograph, so you can manipulate files and objects with your hands.
Of course, you may not have a traditional computer at all. For many people, the PC of the future will be a dumb terminal, with storage, software, and processing power distributed across an Internet cloud. Amazon, Dell, and IBM have introduced cloud services for businesses; and Google and Zoho now serve up Web applications to consumers.
In years to come you'll enjoy ubiquitous Internet access, perhaps using part of today's TV spectrum. Such access will deliver your "desktop" from a portable device or Internet terminal. Instead of a user name and password, you'll provide a fingerprint, voice, or retinal scan. "Your identity becomes your access point to your files and applications," says Patrick Tucker of the World Future Society, in Bethesda, Maryland. "Your digital life will follow you around like a shadow."


Emulex, Cisco and VMware designed and launched new storage networking solution

Jan 30 — Announced at this week’s Cisco Networkers in Barcelona, Spain, Emulex Corporation, partnering with Cisco and VMWare, launched a joint storage networking solution. The new solution runs on VMware virtualization infrastructure and incorporates Emulex’s LightPulse 4Gb/s host bus adapters (HBAs), Cisco’s MDS Fibre Channel switches and VMware’s ESX Server 3.5.
The new solution offers industry-standard NPIV to provide customers with the functionality to maintain storage area network (SAN) best practices, while delivering improved Quality of Service (QoS) and data protection capabilities. Additionally, Emulex has teamed with Cisco and VMware to integrate NPIV functionality into VMware VMotion technology, which enhances storage access by maintaining the same Virtual Port ID while migrating live virtual machines from one physical host to another.
“This solution brings together the best in virtualized server and storage technologies, innovation and expertise by combining the unique features associated with NPIV and VMware VMotion. VMware VMotion helps eliminate downtime and works with NPIV to ensure a continuous SAN connection during the virtual machine migration process, and enables leverage of critical features and functionality, such as zoning,” said Mike Smith, executive vice president of worldwide marketing, Emulex Corporation. “By working with Cisco and VMware, we can provide our joint customers with a complete set of tools to enable infrastructure-wide virtualization and its full benefits including business continuity, disaster recovery and simplified IT management.”
Home Interiors & Gifts, Inc., a direct seller of home accessories in North America, is currently migrating more than 100 Windows server hosts to a VMware virtualized environment and is in the process of converting all of its SAN connectivity to Emulex LightPulse HBAs.
“We are impressed with the capabilities of Emulex HBAs and the relationship between Emulex, Cisco and VMware. Implementing Emulex’s LightPulse Virtual HBA technology with industry-standard NPIV support is a necessary step in our ongoing transition to a virtualized data center environment,” said Levi Spears, SAN and Windows system administrator, Home Interiors & Gifts, Inc. “With the full integration of Emulex Virtual HBA technology within VMware ESX Server, we now have an easy route to implement SAN management best practices with capabilities such as zoning, array LUN masking and mapping across all of our virtual machines.”
Another key capability of using the Emulex, Cisco and VMware solution includes the ability to create a unique identity for each virtual machine that can be tracked throughout the SAN. With this virtual machine identity, the data center manager can track statistics such as I/O throughput and error rates to better manage storage traffic and detect errors at the virtual machine level.
“Networked storage is fundamental to a virtualized architecture,” said Brian Byun, vice president of global partners and solutions at VMware. “This solution provides new options for implementing SAN best practices within a virtualized environment.”
Emulex and Cisco have created a Solution Guide that provides data center users with practical use cases and deployment scenarios for maximizing and understanding the benefits of NPIV technology within a VMware environment.


Apple iPod Nano 8GB

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Product summary
The good:
The third-generation iPod Nano offers crisp, bright video playback, an exceptionally thin all-metal body, above-average battery life, built-in games, and an advanced user interface.
The bad: We're not crazy about the wider body, the smaller scroll wheel, the lack of video output, and the average-sounding audio quality.
The bottom line: The shape may have changed, but Apple's relentless attention to detail remains. The third generation of the iPod Nano provides loads of entertainment for a down-to-earth price.
Specs: Device type: Portable media center; Dimensions (WxDxH): 2 in x 0.3 in x 2.8 in; Display type: LCD 2.0

Now in its third generation, Apple's iPod Nano gets a substantial redesign to accommodate games and video playback. Despite its changes--and Apple made many--the iPod Nano is still one of the smallest, thinnest, and most exquisitely designed MP3 players on the market. It's also one of the most affordable, with a 4GB (silver) model offered for $149, and an 8GB (silver, black, red, green, or blue) model for $199. While the updated iPod Classic and the new iPod Touch are equally intriguing, the revamped Nano delivers the most bang for the buck.

The redesign of the iPod Nano has drawn plenty of criticism. Its detractors call it chubby, squat, and awkward looking. We certainly had our reservations, but in the hand, the latest Nano makes the second-generation Nano look like a skyscraper.
The Nano measures a petite 2.75 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 0.25 inch thick--a significant shift from its once long and skinny shape, though it is essentially the same thickness. Matte, anodized aluminum graces the faceplate, as with the previous generation of Nanos and now the iPod Classic as well. The back and sides of the Nano, however, mimic the Video iPod's rounded, glossy, smudge-prone chrome enclosure. On the bottom edge of the Nano, you'll find the iPod's proprietary USB port, along with the headphone jack and the hold switch, which prevents you from accidentally triggering the player's buttons. Nano keeps Apple's ubiquitous Click Wheel design, although the Nano's new Click Wheel is smaller in diameter--it's only 1 inch--than the previous Nano's 1.25 inches. The much skinnier touch strip may frustrate users accustomed to the 1.5-inch wheel of the Video iPod and the iPod Classic.
The Nano's most dramatic design change is, of course, its larger, brighter screen. The 2-inch color screen packs a dense, crisp 320x240 video resolution that looks richer and brighter than that of any iPod to date. It's not often that we deem a screen smaller than 2.5 inches worthy of video playback, but with a tightly packed 204 pixels per inch, the Nano looks incredibly sharp. Unlike the
Apple iPhone or the iPod Touch, however, the Nano's screen is covered with a scratch-prone plastic that will quickly show wear.
The Cover Flow mode on the iPod Nano is a little slow, but it's a beautiful touch.
The Nano's second-most impressive design improvement is its dramatically overhauled menu system. One of the most striking changes is a split-screen main menu that displays the menu on the right half of the screen and a picture related to the selection on the left. For example, highlight the Music selection on the main menu, and the right half of the screen displays a random, drifting closeup of cover artwork from your music library. This same effect accompanies menu items such as movies, podcasts, and photos. Some might write this split-screen effect off as pure novelty, but the end result is quite beautiful. The Cover Flow system, for browsing your music collection with an emphasis on album artwork, finally makes its Nano debut, although Cover Flow does lose some appeal when not on a touch screen device such as the iPhone. We also found a noticeable amount of lag when using Cover Flow. Users with large music collections to sort through will prefer browsing with the list mode or the search function. That said, Cover Flow makes for a scenic and engaging, if slow, way to browse your music.

The third-generation Nano's piece de resistance is its support for video playback. Like the Video iPod (now iPod Classic), the iPod Nano supports H.264 or MPEG4 video in either MOV, MP4, or M4V file formats, with a maximum resolution of 640x480 at as much as 30 frames per second. You can buy videos through the iTunes online store or import them into iTunes and convert them for playback. (Many third-party software video converters also do a great job converting videos for the iPod.) Despite its size, the Nano supports video features we seldom find on portable video players twice its size. For instance, the Nano can recognize and skip between the DVD-like chapter markers embedded in QuickTime movie files. It also does a dependable job automatically resuming video playback at the point that you last left off. As a bonus, the new iPod Nano and iPod Classic now properly launch video podcasts ("vodcasts") as videos, instead of mistaking them for audio podcasts when launched from within the Music menu.
The iPod Nano's second major new feature is support for iTunes video games. While the selection of iPod video games has grown slowly, three tried-and-true standards come bundled with the Nano right out of the box: a congenial game of Solitaire, a trivia game called iQuiz, and the brick-pummeling Vortex (think Breakout on steroids). While the games are a handy way to pass some time, don't expect the Nano to compete with the
Sony PSP anytime soon.
Looking past the obvious big-ticket improvements, the new Nano includes some small touches that are easy to miss. Apple's music shuffle function, for instance, has made a subtle evolution, now letting you easily engage and disengage the shuffle function on the fly with just a few presses on the Click Wheel's center button. By placing the shuffle setting options (Shuffle Song, Shuffle Album, or Shuffle Off) in a song's Now Playing window, Apple is effectively giving you the ability to randomize songs until you find an artist you like--a lazy listener's dream come true.
Apple hasn't changed its audio file format support. Copy-protected AAC files purchased through iTunes are supported, of course, as well as MP3, Apple lossless, AIFF, WAV, and Audible files. We're happy to see that, despite the iPhone's unique file-management requirements, the iPod Nano allows for the manual addition and deletion of music and video files without the hassles of playlist syncing. The Nano can also double as a USB flash drive in a pinch.
While the iPod Nano is a top-tier product, we long for some additional features, including the ability to use the headphone jack as a composite-video output, allowing photos and videos to be played to your television set without a third-party interface. While we can understand removing the little-used AV output feature to save on construction costs, we're even more surprised that Apple has rendered all current iPods incompatible with a number of third-party fifth-generation video accessories as well. If you're hoping to use a new Nano or Classic with an existing video dock, be sure to check that the product explicitly states it is compatible with third-generation iPod Nanos. Apple's own
Universal iPod Dock ($50) and Component AV Cable ($50) are guaranteed to work, of course.
Plus, there's our standard list of long-neglected iPod features: FM radio; line-input recording; SD memory expansion; custom equalizer; and native support for WMA and subscription music services. We're not holding our breath.
Split-screen menus make browsing much more entertaining.

Despite the major interface overhaul, the iPod Nano's sound quality still sounds just middle-of-the-road. Although middling sound quality doesn't seem to affect iPod sales, you'd think Apple would eventually address this chink in the iPod's armor, if only out of pride. Users do get more than 20 equalization presets to choose from, ranging from subtle enhancement to dramatic bass boosting. Compared to products such as the Creative Zen V Plus, the Cowon iAudio 7, or the Toshiba Gigabeat U, however, the iPod's sound quality still leaves room for improvement. That said, after listening with our Ultrasone HFI-700 headphones as well as a set of Shure SE310 earphones, we can say with confidence that the Nano's fidelity will certainly satisfy most users.
Much to our surprise, the Nano's video performance stole the show. We were highly skeptical that we'd enjoy watching video on a 2-inch screen, yet the Nano's superfine 204ppi screen looked refreshingly sharp and bright. We still prefer the video experience of a larger player such as the affordable
Archos 405, but it's not far-fetched to imagine watching a full-length movie on the Nano.
Battery life was a big bragging right for the second-generation Nano, and the third-generation carries on this tradition. Apple rated the battery life for their third-generation Nano at 24 hours for audio playback and 5 hours for video. Our official CNET labs testing squeezed out an impressive 29 hours of audio playback and 6.7 hours of video.
Is it worth upgrading?
Considering that the iPod Classic and the iPod Nano are now nearly identical aside from storage capacity and screen size, the Nano is less a product unto itself and much more like a "light" version of the iPod Classic.
Existing Nano owners drawn to the previous Nano's less-is-more appeal enjoyed not worrying about the tiny screen getting scratched if it took a tumble onto the floor and may be turned off by the need treat the device more carefully. We also found that the new Nano's wider form is less comfortable in the fist than the previous generation, making it awkward for jogging without an armband or a pocket.
We expect that this Nano will appeal more to existing iPod users looking to replace their decaying third-, fourth-, and fifth-generation hard-drive iPods with something smaller, cheaper, and leaner. Of course, the Nano would be more appealing all the way around if Apple would just make a 16GB version.
The iTunes factorNo
iPod review would be complete without mentioning Apple's iTunes music software. For better or worse, the integration between an iPod and Apple's iTunes music software is nearly airtight. If this is going to be your first iPod, it's worthwhile to download iTunes ahead of time to see if it works well on your computer and is intuitive for you to use. You should also be aware that most of the music and movies available for purchase on the iTunes online store will play only in iTunes or on an authorized iPod and cannot be transferred to a non-Apple MP3 player.
Final thoughts

Apple's new iPod Nano seems to be drawing equal amounts of ire and admiration. Although we miss the slender form of the second-generation Nano, we feel the latest edition has more going for it than against it. At less than $200, the Nano offers one of the richest user experiences we've seen on an MP3 player.


Firefox 2

Product summary

The good: Firefox 2 adds built-in antiphishing protection, search engine suggestions, session restore, inline spell-checking, and Live Titles; the browser is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux; localized versions available in many different languages.

The bad: The Firefox 2 uninstall leaves behind a mess; some 1.5 version add-ons will break in 2.0; there are no thumbnail previews of open tabs; the browser doesn't yet pass the Web Standards Project Acid2 test.

The bottom line: Mozilla Firefox 2 is a winner, beating Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 on security, features, and overall cool factor and deserving our Editors' Choice award.


Mozilla Firefox 2 (formerly known as Bon Echo) builds on the strength and the security demonstrated in Firefox 1.5 by adding several new features. Like Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 2 includes built-in antiphishing, but overall, Firefox 2 is much better than Microsoft Internet Explorer 7. Firefox 2 offers forward-looking features, such as Live Titles, as well as practical here-and-now tools, such as search engine suggestions, session restore, and inline spell-checking. Despite its many improvements, Firefox 2, like Internet Explorer 7, still does not pass the Acid2 Web Standards test, although, unlike Microsoft, Mozilla says it is working toward full compliance. Given its many pros and relatively few cons, Firefox 2 receives our Editors' Choice award for best Internet browser. For a look inside, see our Firefox 2 slide show.
You can download Firefox 2 for free, and unlike Internet Explorer 7, Firefox is available on a variety of operating systems: Windows, Mac, and Linux. There are also a wide variety of localized language versions, including Basque and Byelorussian. Again unlike IE 7, Firefox 2 does not require that you shut down antivirus protection nor does it perform a system reboot.
Unlike IE 7, which has reorganized its toolbar, Firefox 2 changes only the look and feel of its buttons. The new shiny-glass look is much more sophisticated, as are the rounded tabs and the hairline borders around the address bar and the search engine box. Missing, however, is Places, a side panel feature we saw briefly in
alpha builds; Places organizes bookmarks, RSS feeds, and history in one place, much like IE 7's Favorites Center. The good news is that Places will return in Firefox 3, which is currently under development.
Tabs have long been a part of Firefox. Now, with Firefox 2, you can open any number of tabs, rearrange them, and reopen a previously closed tab using the hot keys Ctrl-Shift-T. With another feature carried over from Firefox 1.5, you can also save active tabs as a bookmark so that you can open the entire set of tabs at a later time. Missing, however, are thumbnail previews of each tab (still available only as an extension).
At the far right of the Firefox toolbar is the search engine box. Firefox 2 now includes suggested search terms from the search engine itself; for instance type fire and Google returns Firefox among other suggestions. Firefox 2 provides several built-in search engines, such as Amazon and eBay--far more than provided by IE 7--with the option to add even more search engines.
Should you decide to remove Firefox, you'll be disappointed. Despite the speed we witnessed upon instigating uninstall, the uninstall feature left behind several folders and far too many registry entries. Thus, if you want to clean out your Firefox completely or you attempt to load Firefox 2 as a clean browser, you'll be stuck with your previous bookmarks and preferences, including extensions, intact.
New in Firefox 2 is session restore; if Windows crashes and you have several tabs open in Firefox at the time, you can now relaunch Firefox with all the tabs intact. We found this feature to be very useful during the course of our tests.
Firefox 2 also gives you the ability to correct your spelling mistakes online, just like using a word processor. This is great for typing blogs or posting to a newsgroup. Common dictionary words are checked, with misspellings identified with a squiggly red line. You can add more words and even include dictionaries available in various languages. Once you have access to inline spell-checking, you won't want to surf the Web without it.
Possibly the coolest new feature is Live Titles, formerly Microsummaries, which allows Web sites to stream updated data to your bookmarks. You can add the Live Titles functionality to the Merriam-Webster dictionary site, for example, and once you have done so, when you bookmark a page, you can choose the Live Title option to display the word of the day in your bookmark. When you drop down the bookmark menu or open the bookmark side panel, you'll see the Merriam-Webster logo followed by the word of the day. For news sites such as the BBC's, you'll see the latest headline. Think of Live Titles as RSS-like feeds for your otherwise static bookmarks.
Unfortunately extensions designed for Firefox 1.5 will probably break within Firefox 2. When you install Firefox 2, a handy wizard checks to see if there are new versions of already installed 1.5 extensions available; in our case, some but not all of our favorites had not been optimized for 2.0, but then again, we were testing ahead of public release. In general, the Firefox add-on community is much more robust than that of Internet Explorer.
Security enhancements within Firefox 2 continue. New is a dialog box informing you of cross-domain scripting, a tactic used by criminal hackers to link nonrelated sites to sites you think may be legit. And
Mozilla remains very responsive to fixing its vulnerabilities, pushing out updates within a few days of public notice. Microsoft, on the other hand, parses out its vulnerability fixes a little at a time. In the five years since its release, IE 6 has accrued a large deficit, and we see no sign that Microsoft is addressing new vulnerabilities found in IE 7 any faster.
The underlying Web rendering engine within Firefox 2 is Gecko 1.8, and it is largely unchanged from the previous release, Firefox 1.5. The next release of Firefox should include a new rendering engine.
Unfortunately, Firefox 2 does not fully support all the standards supported by the W3C organization, so it fails what is called the
Acid2 test, a test designed by the Web Standards Project, although Mozilla is working hard toward full compliance. For comparison, of the browsers tested by CNET, only Opera 9 passed the test; IE 7 fared the worst, unable to render the page in the correct colors or shapes.
Antiphishing technology within Firefox 2 is good, and the technology has steadily improved throughout the various betas we've seen. We tested Firefox 2 on a fraudulent Bank of America site less than one hour old; the program caught the page immediately. For comparison, IE 7 also flagged the same fraudulent banking site. Most phishing sites are removed after their initial 72 hours of existence. In general, we have found that stand-alone antiphishing filters, such as Netcraft's, perform far better at flagging brand-new phishing sites than antiphishing filters bundled with Internet browsers.
There are many enhancements within Firefox 2, making it a worthy upgrade for existing users and a fine introduction for new users. Firefox is truly innovative, yet it's also very practical for everyday use.


The New Hitachi P50X01A Plasma TV: Better Sound, Bigger Picture

The Hitachi P50X01A plasma TV is for those who crave the larger things in life, for those who think big and beyond, 50 inches… yes, that’s the size it comes in! To realize the full potential of this product, the company is complementing the panel with its stepped-up Picture Master Full HD video processor and a Movie Frame Rate Converter (MFRC) function. The MFRC promises smoother motion reproduction for film-based broadcast and content. This employs a special algorithm to generate intermittent frames rather than rely on the conventional approach of simple duplication, which may lead to on screen jerkiness. Unlike the predecessor, this one also offers true 1920X1080 resolution pixel-to-pixel compatibility with Blue-rays and HD-DVDs. Simply put, a mini theatre experience.


Transcend Unveils the Ultra Tiny JetFlash T3

Small is ‘in’. In a big way. Small cars, small mobiles, small laptops – you name it and you can have it. No wonder then that Transcend has launched its ‘ultra small’ flash drive, the JetFlash T3, which is impossibly compact and weighs a negligible 2 gm! Unlike other miniature USB flash drives, which are pretty fragile, this one is robust, thanks to a special COB (Chip On Board) manufacturing technique that moulds the flash memory chip and circuit board into the driver’s extra toughened casing, making the T3 virtually and delightfully unbreakable.


Surface Computer - A new evolution by Microsoft

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Microsoft is going to unveil its new product “Microsoft surface computer”. This is the first one in this surface computer category.
Surface computer can recognise physical objects like paintbrush and cell phone and can directly control the content like music, photos.
Microsoft represents a fundamental change in the way we interact with digital content. With surface we can even grab and move the data between different objects with one touch.

Surface computer is a 30 inch tabletop display which allow several people to work simultaneously and independently even without mouse and keyboard.
Isn’t it interesting. There will be now no barrier between human and technology!


Nokia N800 Internet Tablet

The good: The Nokia N800 Internet Tablet has integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity for accessing the Web on the go and comes with an outstanding browser. It also features a built-in Webcam, a sleeker design, a gorgeous screen, and improved performance. Other goodies include VoIP support, instant messaging, an RSS news reader, a media player, and dual expansion slots.
The bad: Unfortunately, the video playback on the N800 was subpar, and there is no PC synchronization. The N800 also relies solely on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for connectivity.
The bottom line: Though it won't appeal to the masses quite yet, the Nokia N800 Internet Tablet is a nice, portable device for on-the-go Web browsing, and it has some worthy upgrades.
Specs: OS provided: Internet Tablet OS 2007; Installed RAM: 128 MB; Wireless connectivity: IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, Bluetooth 2.0
See full specs >>
Price range:
$225.99 - $399.99


India the top outsourcing destination?

To achieve the main cost saving advantage many companies are outsourcing their IT related work. Companies are outsourcing the project work either onshore or offshore or combination of both. According to many surveys in 2006 India is the top outsourcing destination and will remain on top position at least for next few years.
Companies try to slash the development work and time by outsourcing the complete or part of the project work. Cost saving is the key consideration besides all other factors. But some companies are now outsourcing the work more strategically. This would be beneficial for outsourcing companies in long future run.

All the surveys like outsourcing survey ,75% of the companies participated in the survey are outsourcing their work to India. From overall buyers 79% buyers are satisfied with their decision of outsourcing and they are not thinking to stop their outsourcing work in future.
The work mainly outsourced to low cost countries is software development, maintenance, Quality assurance, software testing, and software architecture work.
China is main competitor to India for outsourcing work. According to study many companies are also willing to enter into Chinese market by any means. Chinese strict government policies and their leaned attitude towards the local companies is the main concern for global investors in china.
India is also facing some challenging of increasing employee wages, affecting the overall work cost. Strong Rupee value against Dollar will also be a main concern of Indian companies. But if the Indian engineers are costlier then they must be putting their efforts more for quality work.
So in future top 5 outsourcing destinations could be India, China, US, Brazil and Russia.


Xtreme 770

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Xtreme 770 is the first laptop to feature Intel’s new 2.6GHz Core 2 Duo T7800 processor. It also marks the debut of nVidia’s GeForce FX 8800 graphics chip – which has 512MB RAM and is the flagship model in that company’s gamer line of processors.

The new 770 produced a score of 5,022 in Cinebench 10’s rendering test – 10 per cent faster than the older model, which had a 2.4GHz T7700 chip. However, it was only three per cent faster than the Best Buy-winning 17-inch MacBook Pro – though Apple hasn’t announced versions of its laptops with T7800 chips yet.
The GeForce FX 8800 graphics chip helped the 770 to the highest score from Cinebench 10’s real-time 3D test that we’ve ever seen from a laptop – measuring 4,357 and 23 per cent faster than nVidia’s previous top-of-the-line chip, the 7950GTX.
In our After Effects CS3 test, Rock’s laptop was an impressive performer, though again it was only a few percent faster than the older Xtreme 770 with the T7700 processor. The 770 took seven minutes and 20 seconds to complete our Photoshop CS3 test of 25 actions on a 200MB image. This is 34 seconds faster than its predecessor, but way behind models that we’ve looked at with 4GB of RAM.
The Xtreme 700 is a powerhouse but it’s not without flaws. It’s huge and heavy to the point where’s it not really portable outside the studio. It also has large X on its lid and trackpad that make it look like a piece of X-Factor merchandise. Its screen isn’t as clear or accurate as some too.
If power is more important than portability to you, the 770 is a great option – but we still prefer the balance of both offered by Apple’s 17-inch MacBook Pro.


Microsoft Expression Design

Expression Design, the product formerly known as Acrylic or Creature House Expression, ships as part of the Expression Suite – which is touted as competition to Adobe’s Creative Suite. It’s a vector graphics tool, suited to producing content for Microsoft’s Web tools Expression Blend and Silverlight.
Design’s interface will be familiar to Illustrator users, with a large artboard view, toolbox and Action bar (Control/options bar). A properties panel holds the equivalent to the colour picker, filter list, a well-stocked brush/stroke gallery and some of the transform tools.
The layout is completed by the layers panel, which operates in the standard industry fashion. The properties and layers panel can also be set to float on the artboard, but some features can be hard to find, hidden within these panels rather than in a menu bar. For example, only by clicking on a colour value can you activate a pop-up offering five colour models.
Bitmap images can be imported and files like BMP, TIFF and certain other industry formats are supported. PSD files are handled, but layers can’t be edited.

The main draw for this application is the ability to save artwork out as a XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language) file. This is the format used by Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), the application development platform designed by Microsoft and pre-installed in Windows Vista as well as other .NET Framework 3.0 technologies. It’s also used in Expression Blend, the Web development component of the suite.


Armari QX3

platform Windows XP 64-bit
price £4,150 plus VAT
pros Very powerful workstation for high-end 3D and compositing work.
cons Expensive; card justifies cost only with extremely complex scenes.

The workstation’s 3D power comes from AMD’s top-of-the-line ATI FireGL V8650 graphics card, which is the first we’ve seen to boast 2GB of its own RAM. It’s a whopper of a card, and even had to be positioned in the lower PCI Express x16 slot of the QX3’s gargantuan case, as the Serial ATA cable from the QX3s’s single 750GB, 7,200rpm hard drive blocks placement in the more traditional higher slot.
In the relatively modest Cinebench R10 testing environment, the QX3 produced the highest real-time 3D score we’ve seen – 7,401. However, it’s not much higher than scores attained by boards costing half the price of the £1,399 plus VAT V8650.
The relative performance of the V8650 improves with more-complex scenes; it breezed past lower-end boards for Maya scenes with a 6,617,000-polygon animation. Yet it was only when we upped the polygon count towards one billion that the V8650 really showed why it’s almost three times the price of AMD’s FireGL v7600 – it was much faster on very complex scenes than its main rival, the nVidia Quadro FX 5600.
The QX3 is also the first workstation we’ve seen to include Intel’s brand-new 3.16GHz Intel Xeon X5460 processors. These are assisted by 8GB of RAM, helping the QX3 to achieve the highest score in Cinebench’s rendering test (23,457), and the fastest times in our After Effects test (2mins 56s) and Photoshop CS3 test (3mins 23s).
If money’s no object, the QX3 is the 3D workstation that you’d want. But from a value perspective, you’d have to be working with heavy duty scenes to justify the £4,000 price tag.


Sony raises a smile with new W-Series

Too many grumpy facial expressions in your family snaps? Do not despair! Sony has today announced 4 new models in its W-series of digital compact cameras, all of which are featuring Sony's 'smile shutter' mode. When set to this shooting mode the camera automatically releases the shutter when the subject smiles. The DSC-W170 and DSC-W150 (available in April) sport a 5x Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar lens while the smaller sister models DSC-W130 and DSC-W120 (available in March) come with a 4x zoom. All cameras will be offered in a range of colors.

Sony adds “Smile Shutter” function to Cyber-Shot W-Series digital camera

Smart Technology to Capture Better Photos

Each of the new W series models includes Sony’s improved face detection technology, which, like the smile shutter technology, can now distinguish between the faces of children and adults. You can select “child priority” or “adult priority” and the camera will detect up to eight faces in the camera frame and optimize focus, exposure, white balance, and flash control. The W170 and W150 cameras feature new intelligent scene recognition (iSCN) technology, which allows the camera to automatically select the optimal scene mode for a variety shooting situations. In advanced iSCN mode, the camera will take a photo based on the user’s settings. If the camera determines that another setting would yield better exposure, it will automatically take a second photo with that setting. The user ultimately has two images to choose from.

Powerful Features for Outstanding Images

The series features a number of powerful features, including: Sony’s D-Range Optimizer to retrieve picture detail in photos with harsh highlights or dark shadows; semi-manual focus that allows you to select the focusing distance based on your subject’s location; an improved auto focus system that includes macro ranges; Super SteadyShot image stabilization; high sensitivity settings up to ISO 3200; and in-camera editing functions such as “unsharp mask” to sharpen images.


Open season on open-source software

Monday, January 21, 2008

Open-source software, which by its traditional definition is developed collaboratively by informal groups and available free to anyone, has been a major factor driving the growth of the internet, and especially the proliferation of blogs and small websites.
My company, NewWest.Net, and countless others would be nowhere without what's known inelegantly as the LAMP stack: Linux, Apache, MySQL and PhP. They are, respectively, an operating system, a web server, a database and a programming language. They are all very powerful, open-source solutions that generally cost nothing.
Given that, two big software deals announced last week are, on the face of it, a bit puzzling, and perhaps alarming. The Swedish company that's behind MySQL was bought by Sun Microsystems for $1 billion, and the British company behind another piece of excellent open-source software that we use, OpenAds, received a $15 million round of funding.
There is certainly plenty of precedent for open-source software going commercial: Red Hat was formed in the late 1990s to commercialise Linux, and in fact our servers run on a version of Red Hat Linux. The general concept is that the software remains free, but you pay for a commercial version in order to get support, updates, and some assurance that you're not at the mercy of an anonymous group of web developers scattered around the globe.
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Comment archive: Jonathan Weber
Sun, and the venture capitalists behind OpenAds, undoubtedly have something similar in mind. The basic code will still be freely available, but if you want more of a ‘product’ that comes with the things we generally expect from a product, or an enterprise version with lots of bells and whistles, you'll have to pay for it. Sun could in principle use MySQL as a loss leader for its hardware, bundling an optimised version with its servers and workstations, for example.
Even "productised" open-source software is much cheaper than proprietary products from Microsoft or Oracle or other vendors. Commercial software that does more or less the same thing as its LAMP counterpart can cost tens of thousands of dollars; if we'd had to buy an Oracle database to launch NewWest.Net, we might never have got off the ground.
In light of the importance of cheap software for small web businesses, however, these two deals do make me slightly nervous. On the one hand, they could result in better products that will still be quite cheap, if not free, and that would be a good thing. And completely free open-source versions will presumably continue to exist: the core code, after all, is still in the public domain.
But there is some risk that these products will, over time, evolve into expensive proprietary products that are quite different from the original open-source versions, and that could present problems for companies like ours. If we couldn't afford the commercial version, the alterative might be a buggy open-source version that was less compatible with the web software ecosystem.
One prominent industry commentator, John Dvorak, even suggests that the Sun/ MySQL deal is part of a conspiracy with Oracle to kill MySQL, which takes a lot of sales away from Oracle. That seems a little over the top to me, but still.
Don't get my wrong: it's not that I think we're entitled to free software, and in fact we do pay for all sorts of commercial software. I'm just very cognisant of the tangible and substantial benefits that the open-source software movement has yielded for me and my company and many others like us. I'd hate to see that disappear.


Cardiac Monitor

After Ratan Tata's 'Nano' comes another 'made in India' feat, once again placing India squarely on the global map. This time the seat of innovation is none other than our very own Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai, and the innovation is the world's smallest wearable cardiac monitor.

The Silicon locket, about the size of candy, is the brain child of Professor Rakesh Lal of the School of Bioscience and Bioengineering, and Professor S Mukherji. The project, funded by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), is spearheaded by Professor Dinesh Sharma. Incidentally, though the locket awaits a suitable manufacturer, it's already ready at the Microelectronics Department of IIT Mumbai. The tiny computer is capable of storing a week's electrocardiogram (ECG) data. Professor Lal, a visiting fellow at the University of California, said the basic device is like plug-and-play and that there isn't anything quite as small on the market. Basically, algorithms are fed into the locket's system, enabling it to distinguish between jerks from running, from working out, or climbing stairs, or irrythmic heart beats. Worn with five electrodes on the chest, a sensor in the locket records the heart's electrical activity or ECG. If it detects abnormalities, it can automatically transmit the last few seconds of ECG data to a central server using a mobile phone interface. Whenever a user feels uneasy, he/she can press a locket button to mark that data so that a doctor can later scrutinize marked segments, and check the heart's activity before the irregularity. When connected to a cell phone, the locket can be programmed to send SMS containing marked data to a doctor. Software in the locket forwards the data to the mobile, which sends the SMS.


New Storage Technologies Hit The MarketFebruary

They've been talked about and written about for years. Standards groups have fussed over every last detail, industry associations have sponsored endless interoperability demos, and vendors have jockeyed for position with competing prototype announcements.
Now the products are actually starting to hit the market.
We're talking about new storage technologies such as 4 gigabit per second Fibre Channel, serial attached SCSI (SAS) and continuous data protection (CDP). Vendors have been rolling out products based on those technologies in recent weeks, and they really picked up the pace this week.


Nanotube radio

Sunday, January 20, 2008

All-in-one nanotube radio A single carbon nanotube serves as antenna, tuner, amplifier and demodulator -- all the components of a radio except power source and speaker. The experimental nanotube radio receives music and voice signals in the FM frequency range. The infinitesimal radio could lead to radio-controlled nano devices and smart materials. (Nanotube Radio, Nano Letters, November 2007


Nanotube radio

All-in-one nanotube radio A single carbon nanotube serves as antenna, tuner, amplifier and demodulator -- all the components of a radio except power source and speaker. The experimental nanotube radio receives music and voice signals in the FM frequency range. The infinitesimal radio could lead to radio-controlled nano devices and smart materials. (Nanotube Radio, Nano Letters, November 2007



Saturday, January 19, 2008 is a work in progress, built on the back of Microsoft’s original demo With, users add ‘gadgets’ to their page. Gadgets are basically mini applications - like widgets in Konfabulator (now owned by Yahoo). Currently the gadgets on offer in are the usual set, which most if not all of the other AJAX homepages also offer: mail, stock quotes, weather forecasts, horoscopes, ticking clocks, quote of the day, etc. But there are signs that much more functional gadgets are on their way - for example a tv recommendations gadget, which talks to your Media Center box in order to program tv shows. 181 gadgets have been built to date on, with many more to come.
Also has an open API and looks to have a growing developer base for gadgets. This is going to be the key for survival for any AJAX homepage - offering APIs and enabling developers to build gadgets/widgets for the platform.
As the "homepage for windows live", will undoubtedly have a huge user base and probably developer base too. This is the one to watch, unless Google (see below) can up the ante.


Sun enters database market with MySQL purchase

Sun Microsystems is set to enter the database market, with the acquisition of MySQL AB. Sun announced today that it will acquire the open source database developer in a deal worth $1 billion.The acquisition has been made as part of Sun's aim to create an integrated web platform. MySQL is used by a large number of web companies, including Facebook and Google, and the developer has strong Web 2.0 credentials and expertise in the Software as a Service (SaaS) sector, enterprise and telecom.Sun will pay $800 million in cash and assume $200 million in options under the deal, which is due to close in Sun's fiscal Q3 or Q4 2008.


Welcome to TechFunk

Friday, January 18, 2008

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