Archive for April, 2010

Microsoft kills would-be iPad killer

Posted April 30, 2010 By David Kolle

Microsft has cancelled plans to launch an iPad rivalMicrosft has cancelled plans to launch an iPad rival

Microsoft said its Courier tablet PC, vaunted by some as a potential rival to Apple’s iPad, will not be launched as a product, at least not in its current form.

The device – which has never been publicly acknowledged by Microsoft but has been featured on numerous blogs and websites – appeared to be a thin, twin-screen, pen and touch-operated portable PC that resembled an opened notebook, in photos published by tech blog Gizmodo.

There was some excitement earlier this year that Microsoft would unveil Courier at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but instead chief executive Steve Ballmer touted a Hewlett-Packard Co slate-like device in his keynote speech.

// But analysts were skeptical then that Microsoft and HP could generate as much consumer excitement as Apple’s new device.

“This great little PC – which will be available later this year – I think many customers are going to be very excited about,” Ballmer said at the show, using finger touches to flip through a book on the screen using Amazon.com’s Kindle software.

The company has indicated that Courier will not see the light of day in its current form, but did not rule out Microsoft launching its own slate or tablet PC in the future.

“At any given time, across any of our business groups, there are new ideas being investigated, tested and incubated,” said Frank Shaw, head of Microsoft’s PR department, in a blog on the company’s site today. “The ‘Courier’ project is an example of this type of effort and its technologies will be evaluated for use in future Microsoft offerings.”

Source: smh.com.au

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British blind boy ‘sees’ like a dolphin

Posted April 30, 2010 By David Kolle

A BLIND boy of four uses echo-location to “see” – the same way DOLPHINS navigate murky depths.

Brave little Jamie Aspland makes clicking noises with his tongue to find his way around objects. His astonished mum Deborah, 39, said yesterday: “It’s amazing.

Jamie Aspland

Amazed … mum Deborah with brave four-year-old

“Since learning the skill we can walk to the park and Jamie no longer has to hold my hand.”

Jamie – a twin who was born blind – was taught the revolutionary technique by a US expert who has pioneered it.

dolphins

Navigation skill … ‘clicking’ dolphins

Wellwishers in his home town of Ashford, Kent, raised £2,500 for the course. Deborah told how the clever youngster mastered the skill after just THREE lessons.

It works by rebounding the clicking sound off objects – creating a flash of light “mind map” of the obstacle.

Deborah said her heart was in her mouth on their first trip to the local park when he walked towards a wall.

The overjoyed mum of three said: “He just went round it. I didn’t think it would be possible.

“He even clicks to find out where the handrails are on our stairs before walking down unaided.”

Jamie is among only a handful of children worldwide to be taught how to copy dolphins by Californian Daniel Kish, who is himself blind.

The Sun told last October how seven-year-old Lucas Murray was nicknamed Batboy after learning a similar technique in Poole, Dorset.

Mr Kish calls his echo-location skill “flash-sonar”. He said: “It provides one with information of a fair amount of detail at distances of dozens of metres.”

Eventually Jamie, who gets around using a cane, should be able to detect buildings from 100 yards.

Mr Kish said: “Working with Jamie and his family was terrific. He he was very responsive.”

Deborah gave up her job as a tour operator to care full-time for Jamie, his twin sister Rosie, who has learning difficulties, AND their brother Kane – who suffers from autism.

The mum said: “Knowing Jamie can be safe and will understand what is happening, where the traffic is and what’s around him, will really help.”

Source: The Sun

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Microsoft is Improving Hotmail

Posted April 30, 2010 By David Kolle

There are some big announcements that Microsoft released recently about Live Messenger: We’ve discussed about the new Windows Live Messenger coming up and the official release of Live Messenger for iPhone. Now, MS is introducing major enhancements in the Hotmail, the preferred web mail.

Let’s take a look to those new features:

  • Associating devices to Hotmail. This is a very nice security feature, you can add a device to your account, like a mobile phone, and if you lose control of the Hotmail access you can send a security code to recover your account. This will only work for one time.
  • Push email support for mobile phones using Exchange ActiveSync app. This application is the one used on iPhone and Android when you want to configure your Hotmail accounts. The “push” feature of the mail protocol is used from the mail server which delivers every new mail directly to the device or web client; while using “push” you don’t have to refresh your mailbox to retrieve new mails.
  • Unifying contacts. Hotmail will also receive as contacts your friends and connections from social networks like Facebook and Linkedin.

Even though Hotmail, as the most popular web mail, was left behind by amazing features in Gmail; these new ones are pretty sweet and not available on Google’s offering.

Source: crenk.com

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Jobs: why we don’t like Flash

Posted April 30, 2010 By David Kolle

Apple’s chief executive Steve Jobs sharply criticised Adobe Systems’ popular Flash multimedia software, calling it unreliable and ill-suited for mobile devices, escalating a pitched battle between the two companies.

In a nearly 1700-word manifesto entitled “Thoughts on Flash,” Jobs laid out a laundry

list of complaints about the technology, raising questions about its security, “technical drawbacks”, and power-management.

“Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it

beyond PCs,” he said. “But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.”

Jobs said Flash is “closed” because it is a proprietary system from Adobe, which controls everything from its features to its pricing. Similar charges are routinely lobbed at Apple’s products and services, such as the App Store and iTunes.

Flash-based video and games are found on many internet sites, but Apple has not allowed Flash on its iPhone and iPad.

“Adobe has characterized our decision as being primarily business driven — they say we want to protect our App Store — but in reality it is based on technology issues. Adobe claims that we are a closed system, and that Flash is open, but in fact the opposite is true,” Jobs said.

Adobe declined to comment. But in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, chief executive Shantanu Narayen called the technology problems noted by Jobs “a smokescreen.”

He labeled Jobs’ letter an “extraordinary attack and denied Flash is a closed platform and said Apple’s restrictiveness makes it difficult for developers who create applications for multiple devices.

Narayen has now responded to the criticism in a video interview with The Wall Street Journal saying “We have diffent views of the world. Our view of the wolrd is multi-platform and we’re going to stick by it”.

Old feud

The hostility between Apple and Adobe has been brewing for months. Apple has criticised Flash as a buggy battery hog, while Adobe has accused Apple of exerting tyrannical control over developers creating programs for the iPhone and iPad.

The rhetoric has grown ever more heated. Earlier this month, Flash “platform evangelist” Lee Brimelow ended a blog post by saying, “Go screw yourself Apple.”

Jefferies & Co analyst Ross MacMillan said Job’s letter didn’t raise any new criticisms about Flash, but simply put them on a very public pedestal.

“It’s not positive in the sense that what Jobs is outlining is that Flash is in effect yesterday’s technology and we shouldn’t consider it as go-forward technology.”

Jobs said he was concerned that allowing Flash-based applications on Apple’s mobile devices would leave it “at the mercy” of a third party.

“We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform,” he said.

Broadpoint AmTech analyst Brian Marshall said Apple clearly wanted to fire back to critics who have complained about the lack of Flash on its mobile devices.

And he said Apple also wanted to make clear that it doesn’t plan to cede an inch of control on its fast-growing mobile platform, which now boasts more than 200,000 apps.

Jobs goes public again

Jobs has taken on an increasingly public role over the past few months, sitting down for magazine profiles and responding frequently to emails from Apple customers.

The enigmatic Apple chief executive has a history of issuing public treatises on hot-button issues. In 2007, Jobs posted two such essays, “Thoughts on Music” – where he urged for the abolition of the digital rights management system for music – and “A Greener Apple,” where he responded to criticism from environmental groups.

In his essay on Flash, Jobs said that while Apple’s operating system for iPhone and iPad is proprietary, the company prefers open standards for the web and favours technologies such HTML5 for creating multimedia programs.

Adobe has said 75 per cent of all video on the web is Flash-based. Popular Flash-based sites such as Hulu can’t run on the iPhone or iPad. But sites like YouTube have worked around this by specially designing non-Flash apps for those devices.

Jobs noted that outlets such as Netflix, ESPN, newspapers and TV networks have all designed offerings that can be played on its devices.

Jobs’ rant was so significant for the share market, it caused Adobe shares to fall and Apple’s to rise.

Source: smh.com.au

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