January 26, 2010

Windows Live and Facebook in New Flavors for Windows Phones

Windows Live for Windows phones

Users of a handset running under Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system can now enjoy two updated applications on their handsets, namely the Windows Live for Windows phones and the Facebook client. However, there seems to be a catch with each of them, as the latter is only available for devices running under Windows Mobile Standard, while the later, although listed at the Windows Marketplace for Mobile, still installs the older version 10.7.0060, it seems.

The new Windows Live for Windows phone version listed in Microsoft's app store is 11.1, dated January 22, yet those who already downloaded and installed the application say that version 10.7 is the one that is actually deployed on their mobile phones. There are great chances that the new version has been listed there before its time, or that the download links haven't been yet updated.

Here's what Microsoft says about this application version: “MUST REBOOT THE WINDOWS PHONE AFTER INSTALL. Before installing, please be sure to manually uninstall any existing version of Windows Live prior to version 11. Now you can stay connected to those that matter most with Windows Live for Windows phone. Windows Live Messenger, Hotmail, Photos and the “What’s New” feed are now all available on your 6.x Windows Phone.”

As for the official Facebook client for Windows Mobile, is seems that the new version of the application that can now be seen in the Marketplace for Mobile is 1.2, though the installation shows version However, the client has been certainly updated, though it should be mentioned that only for Windows Mobile 6.5 Standard Edition (non-touchscreen) mobile phones.

Facebook for Windows phones

While the new version is not yet available for handsets running under Windows Mobile Professional Edition (touchscreen), the guys over at pocketnow gave the available new flavor a try, and came up with a list of new features: “First of all, there are now little icons and numbers representing comments as well as the number of people who “like” each post. There’s a new menu that lets you comment AND read other people’s comments AND “like” things. There’s also a new “Search” command in the menu that lets you easily find new people and add them as friends or send them messages (depending on their security settings).”
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Motorola's WiMAX Solution Power FET's 4G Network

Motorola and FET launch WiMAX network in Taiwan

Motorola announced today that Far EasTone Telecom (FET), a leading telecom operator in Taiwan, has just launched its WiMAX 4G network in Taichung city using end-to-end WiMAX solutions from Motorola Home & Networks Mobility. According to the company, the new network can deliver high speeds and is based on 4G technology that supports various services, including mobile Internet, mobile movies and music or family-oriented digital entertainment.

Motorola and FET signed deployment and expansion contracts in 2007 and 2009 respectively, and the former delivered end-to-end solutions like high-performance WAP 400 and WAP 450 base stations or Connectivity Service Network (CSN) Authentication, Authorization and Accounting (AAA)/Home Agent (HA) solutions. At the same time, the company also revealed that the new network covered almost the entire Taichung city, and that the infrastructure would be expanded and enhanced as usage grows.

“We are excited about the launch of the WiMAX 4G service, which provides many possibilities to expand and tailor services for home and mobile users as well as business users and consumers,” said Jan Nilsson, president and vice chairman of FET. “We are delighted to work with an experienced provider such as Motorola that has designed, supplied and deployed a high-performance and reliable network for FET. Motorola's end-to-end solution and quality services help us to create new revenue streams and attract new subscribers.”

With the launch of the new WiMAX 4G service, FET is capable of delivering mobile connectivity on 2G, 3G and 3.5G technologies. The WiMAX network is expected to deliver a low-cost alternative to home DSL service, so that users can benefit from a new entertainment experience. At the same time, the network also comes with support for “nomadic usage by business users and consumers.” Heavy mobile Internet users are those to benefit the most from the new service, the carrier notes.

“FET is a pioneer in providing state-of-the-art telecom services in Taiwan. We are pleased that our technologies and quality services can support them to move to the new mobile broadband era,” said Dr. Mohammad Akhtar, vice president and general manager, Home & Networks Mobility, Motorola Asia Pacific. “Motorola is a global leader of WiMAX technology, and our expertise and experience ensure smooth and quality deployment of the advanced 4G technology for operators worldwide.”
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January 11, 2010

Egyptian Pyramids Not Built by Slaves

The conclusion was drawn after investigating some tombs

The funeral complex at Giza was apparently not constructed by slaves, but by free workers, new evidence shows

According to a recent press release, it would appear that the Great Pyramids at Giza were not constructed using slaves, as it was originally thought. Egypt's Chief Archaeologist said yesterday that, most likely, the amazing structures were built by free workers. Zahi Hawass said that the new conclusion was drawn after he and his team finished analyzing a series of tombs in the vicinity, which do not appear to have been built by slaves either, Reuters reports.

In popular culture, all film references that depict an account of how the pyramids were built show numerous slaves working under the intense heat of the desert, only to have their lives taken away without mercy at the end of their efforts. However, the new investigation, which was conducted on tombs built right next to the Great Pyramids, seems to point to a different conclusion. “These tombs were built beside the king's pyramid, which indicates that these people were not by any means slaves. If they were slaves, they would not have been able to build their tombs beside their king's,” Hawass says.

A number of tombs were discovered near the renowned structures in the 1990s, in what was hailed at the time as some of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th and 21st centuries. All of the mortuary chambers were destined for workers who helped construct the pyramids, most notably those of Khufu and Khafre. Additionally, the excavation team also found primitive graffiti on the walls of some of the tombs, in which the people buried inside claimed that they were “friends of Khufu”. This again falls out of line with the hypothesis that slave labor was employed in the construction process.

Further evidence seems to suggest that everyone involved in the Giza project, more than 4,500 years ago, knew that this was a national enterprise. The researchers found documents that showed farmers in the nearby region sent 21 buffalo and 23 sheep daily to the plateau, in a bid to help feed the estimated 10,000 workers that erected the pyramids. As a reward, the people who sent the food were exempted from paying taxes to the government, which further denotes that little to no coercion was used.
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Casio Unleashing Its Digital Art Frame with Dynamic Photo Capability

Casio America Incorporated and its parent company, Casio Compter Co. Ltd, announced the development of a new and revolutionary digital imaging product, capable of transforming digital photographs into works of fine art (cough), namely the Digital Art Frame. Well, this I cannot help saying, you actually need something more than an "ordinary digital photograph" to start with in the first place, but come to think about it, let's not discuss taste.

"We are excited to announce yet another innovative product with unparalleled features distinctive to Casio," said Toshiharu Okimuro, Chairman of Casio America, Inc. "The Digital Art Frame adds personalization and artistic integrity to your conventional digital photo frame."

Embedding a "snapshot-to-painting conversion" function, the Casio Digital Art Frame can render digital photos into creative, and even personalized artistic expression. This digital frame is nothing like other conventional digital photo frames on the market, going beyond the status of a simple decoration that displays favorite photos in a row, in someone's home or office, just because it can develop quite original (by that I mean unique) photographic artwork from digital images.

The conversion is handled by image recognition and image processing algorithms embedded into the Digital Art Frame's software. Users are given the commodity of turning their photos into eight different styles at the push of a button, namely, Water Color Painting, Color Pencil Sketch, Pastel Painting, Pointillism, Air Brush, Oil Painting, Gothic Oil Painting and Fauvist Oil Painting.

If the above are nothing more than simple image filters that one can apply anytime in an image processing software (try GIMP for example, it's free), then Casio ensured its Digital Art Frame follows the company's step, by adding Dynamic Photo, which is a very known function in Casio's digital cameras. What this does is to allow users to create composite moving images, by combining moving characters directly on the frame. Aside from that, one can also use the Art Dynamic Photo function to apply snapshot-to-painting conversion to the Dynamic Photo images.

Technical specifications include a 10.2-inch WSVGA color LCD screen, an internal memory of 2GB, one SD memory card slot, also SDHC compliant, an in-out USB port, built-in stereo speakers and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi connectivity. No pricing information yet.
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January 5, 2010

Apple to Ship Tablet Device in March

I’m not big on the whole rumor thing these days, but the WSJ and a few other sources are reporting that Apple will finally announce their touchscreen tablet computer on January 27th. It will include a 10 to 11-inch screen, and as previously reported run a variation of the iPhone OS and apps. Unfortunately, the computer is said to ship in March, which is relatively unorthodox for Apple as they often like to announce a product within weeks if not days of a ship date.

Looking to build on the momentum of its iPhone and iPod, Apple Inc. will unveil a new multimedia tablet device later this month, but isn't planning to ship the product until March, say people briefed by the company.

While the device's ship date hasn't been finalized and could still change, people briefed on the matter said the new product will come with a 10 to 11-inch touch screen—which would make it closer in size to Apple's line of MacBook laptops than its smart phone.

Apple was working on two different material finishes for the device, one of these people said, ...
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January 4, 2010

World's First USB 3.0 Peripheral Silicon Certification Goes to Symwave's SW6316 USB 3.0 to SATA Controller

Symwave, one of the many other leading companies in the silicon supplying of system solutions for SuperSpeed USB 3.0 market, has just announced that its SW6316 USB 3.0 to SATA storage controller has reached the point of achieving the World's first USB 3.0 peripheral silicon certification by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF). The Implementers Forum had initiated the USB 3.0 Compliance and Certification Program back in September, and of course, this is the gold standard for testing USB products.

“Symwave has demonstrated several SuperSpeed USB 3.0 World’s firsts including a physical layer device (PHY), a single chip USB 3.0 to SATA storage controller, a dual-drive RAID storage controller delivering 400 MB/s, and now the World’s first USB 3.0 device certification. Compliance to industry standards is essential to the successful deployment and broad market adoption of any new technology, and the USB-IF demonstrated great leadership by launching a compliance program early,” said Yossi Cohen, President and CEO of Symwave.

But what does this certification actually mean? Well, just the fact that along with the certification of the company's device, Symwave's OEM customers can imprint the "SuperSpeed Certified" logo on their products, ensuring consumers are provided with the best confidence of interoperability, compliance, and performance as set forth by the USB-IF.

“Working with the USB-IF team over many months at the forefront of the test procedures development was both challenging and rewarding. Our OEM customers' products can now prominently display the 'SuperSpeed Certified' Logo which consumers have come to recognize as assurance that the product meets the highest standards,” added Cohen.

All in all, this is how things work, and come to think about it, actually, how things should work, because there are too many fake products that claim unreal specifications. If all the people that got USB 1.0 instead of the claimed USB 2.0 speed gave me 1 cent, I'd be filthy rich right now.
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New UI from Microsoft, Forget about GUI and NUI

The mouse and keyboard aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but this is not stopping human computer interaction researchers to push the boundaries of UI and deliver new concepts. While the graphical user interface made the keyboard and mouse the core of a worldwide ubiquitous interaction paradigm, the GUI as we know it represents the past. With Windows 7, Microsoft is ushering in a new era, in which the Natural User Interface changes the way users interact with their machines, through touch, gestures and speech. However, Microsoft itself is exploring additional UI concepts, such as muscle-computer interfaces (muCIs).

According to a patent filing unearth by TechFlash, the Redmond company has asked to be awarded patents for a new method of computer interaction which involves Electromyography (EMG). What Microsoft is proposing is a system for recognizing gestures from forearm EMG signals, essentially using electrical activity from muscles in the hands to deliver instructions for the computer.

The patent filling reveals that Microsoft has been researching a new “approach [designed] to infer user input from sensed human muscle activity. Advances in muscular sensing and processing technologies make it possible for humans to interface with computers directly with muscle activity. One sensing technology, electromyography (EMG), measures electrical potentials generated by the activity of muscle cells. EMG-based systems may use sensors that are carefully placed according to detailed knowledge of the human physiology. Specific muscle activity is measured and used to infer movements, intended or not. While this has been done with meticulously placed EMG sensors under artificial test conditions and finely tuned signal processing, to date, gestures have not been decoded from forearm EMG signals in a way that would allow everyday use.”

At the bottom of this article, you will be able to see a video containing demonstration of muCIs in action (courtesy of BeingManan). The new UI methodology is capable of sensing and decoding human muscular activity and translating the result into computer input. The technology is capable of associating pressure exerted by fingers with certain commands, but also has finger-specific functions and connect functions with certain postures.

“A machine learning model is trained by instructing a user to perform proscribed gestures, sampling signals from EMG sensors arranged arbitrarily on the user's forearm with respect to locations of muscles in the forearm, extracting feature samples from the sampled signals, labeling the feature samples according to the corresponding gestures instructed to be performed, and training the machine learning model with the labeled feature samples. Subsequently, gestures may be recognized using the trained machine learning model by sampling signals from the EMG sensors, extracting from the signals unlabeled feature samples of a same type as those extracted during the training, passing the unlabeled feature samples to the machine learning model, and outputting from the machine learning model indicia of a gesture classified by the machine learning model,” it is added in the Microsoft patent filing.
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Windows 7 SP1 Is Cooking, External Testing Build Coming

Microsoft is gearing up for an important stage in the testing of its first major update to the latest iteration of the Windows client. The Redmond company traditionally releases the first Service Pack for a new Windows OS approximately one year after the platform was finalized, and is currently cooking SP1 for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. A third-party report indicates that the software giant has started preparing Windows 7 copies for the delivery of the first external testing development milestone of Windows 7 SP1.

According to WithinWindows, Microsoft is following the same strategy for Windows 7 as for previous Beta service pack rollouts outside of Redmond. In this regard, the company began enabling a check within Windows 7 operating systems, which would qualify the respective versions as candidates for testing the SP1 Beta. The process involves refreshes served through Windows Update in order to add a registry key as well as an associated value which will permit members in the Windows 7 SP1 Beta testing pool to download the new bits.

Here is the Key added to Windows 7 RTM machines: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate\Win7SP1 and this is the value coming with it SPORTM (REG_SZ). At the time of this article, Microsoft had yet to either confirm or deny the fact that external tester had been approached for Windows 7 SP1 Beta testing.

Don’t be deceived by the fact that Windows 7 was released on October 22nd, 2009, when attempting to calculate when SP1 will be delivered for the operating system. Fact is that Microsoft finalized Windows 7 at the end of July. It was on July 22nd that Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 were released to manufacturing, plenty of time for the software giant to start working on the first service pack for the latest versions of the Windows client and server platforms.
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