France Now Warning Against Microsoft Explorer


France has echoed calls by the German government for web users to find an alternative to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) to protect security. http://bit.ly/7uZBbU

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Microsoft’s Surface Sphere Prototype

Microsoft researchers have taken the wraps off a touch based sphere prototype that uses an internal projection and vision system to bring a round computer display to life. People can interact with the surface with multiple fingers and hands to manipulate photos, play games, spin a virtual globe, or watch 360-degree videos.

Sphere, as it’s known, is purely a research project. The company says it doesn’t currently have plans to offer it as a product. The idea is to see what the technology can do, and how people will use it and is a cousin of the Microsoft Surface tabletop computer.

The system employs advanced algorithms to translate images designed for a flat computer screen so that they appear properly on the rounded globe. The unit also ingrates an infrared system that can sense when hands or objects are placed on the sphere, to let people interact. In the spherical version of the classic Pong arcade game, people place their hands on the surface to direct the bouncing balls inside the sphere.

Photos can be resized or dragged around the sphere in real time and transported to someone on the other side of the sphere by using a palm.  A potter’s wheel application allows people dip their fingers in virtual paint and press against the static globe as the digital work surface spins. Below is a video of the unit;

Linux – This Picture Says It All

Totally ’80s Synthesizer Being Developed For Nintendo DS – We’re All DEVO!

OK – I understand that I missed the big DEVO concert at this years MacWorld. 😦 Apparently the event was sponsored by Microsoft to highlight the release of its new Office 2008 suite of applications for the Mac platform. That said (and to ease my broken silicon heart) I came across this development at Crave which is a virtual version of the Korg MS-10 specifically for the DS. This model was the vintage synthesizer of the big-hair ’80s bands. I never cared too much for some of those hair bands but DEVO was always the height of Geek Chic. I’ll have to go dig out my Energy Dome!

More On Blu-Ray, HD-DVD and Solid State Drives

Why Blu-Ray May Not Be All That Great

In Larry Jordan’s latest Final Cut Pro Newsletter he notes the sudden shift toward Blu-Ray DVDs. He notes that “while Blu-Ray may be good for Hollywood, it won’t be good for small independent producers“. He notes that this is due to the hidden fees tacked on to replicating a Blu-Ray DVD. It appears his comments originate from a discussion on the Digital Buzz podcast of January 31, 2008.

Blu-Ray Prices And Specifications…. Watch Out!

With the demise of HD-DVD both Gizmodo and Engadget are reporting higher Bul-Ray prices. In their post “Blu-ray Prices Higher Than Ever” they note that “data collected by Pricegrabber.com, Blu-ray players have hit a high average of $400 per unit for the year—about the same price they were at this time last year”. They have since updated their posting noting that it’s the “off season” which normally lacks selling incentives that could account for the prices. Engadget is a little less forgiving in their post “Lack of competition sends Blu-ray player prices upward“.

Blu-Ray Profiles

Consumers need to be aware of the differing Blu-Ray Player profile. Given that SONY has already announced the BDP-S350 and S550 (SONY’s First Full 2.0 Spec Blu-ray Players), it’s important to know the differences if your planning to purchase a unit, information can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blu-ray#Player_profiles.

Microsoft Admits Planning Blu-Ray Support

While Microsoft had always been thought to be in the HD-DVD camp, the company has moved quickly to adopt Blu-Ray At MIX08 Steve Balmer was quoted to say, “We’ve already been working on, for example, in Windows, device driver support for Blu-ray drives and the like, and I think the world moves on… Toshiba has moved on. We’ve moved on, and we’ll support Blu-ray in ways that make sense.” more here…

Toshiba’s Plan for Life After HD-DVD

In a interview for the Wall Street Journal, Chief Executive Atsutoshi Nishida of Toshiba announced that his firm will target consumers with TVs, PCs and Standard Disc Players following the collapse of HD DVD. The demise of HD DVD is a huge blow to Toshiba, which is a huge company that makes semiconductors, appliances and nuclear reactors.

Solid State Drives

As posted on an earlier date Solid State Drives are an alternative to Blu-Ray for those who want a non DRM medium. A great place to learn about this space is by looking at the tagged posts on Cnet tech news blog. In addition I found this post about Imation geting into the solid state drive game.

Microsoft – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

The Good

The press tends to echo and enhance stories that reflect the bad side of a company. Today I’d like to start this item with the good things that Microsoft is doing. This week Microsoft had TechFest 2008. Its purpose is to highlight the latest research out of Redmond’s labs.

  • In this video Microsoft shows off its latest scientific gizmo’s sensors and interact with virtual earth and an input device that allows for multifinger sensors on both the back and front of the interface.
  • In this video Microsoft is developing new photo tools for combining images. http://tinyurl.com/3b4ofm
  • MySong will be introduced at CHI 2008 allowing a user with no musical training to rapidly create accompanied music.
  • Microsoft’s Windows Mobile has a better base of support than one might think.

The Bad

For the second month in a row, sales of Sony’s Playstation 3 console system outpaced Microsoft’s Xbox 360. In February the company last month sold 243,100 Playstation Portables and an astonishing 351,800 Playstation 2 units which is its previous generation game system.

The Ugly

The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), which provides legal representation and free consulting services to open-source software developers, has issued a statement declaring that Microsoft’s Open Specification Promise (OSP) does not provide adequate assurance that GPL-licensed implementations of the Office Open XML (OOXML) format will be perpetually free of patent liability. Microsoft Open Specification Promise can be viewed at http://www.microsoft.com/interop/osp/default.mspx

Computerworld is reporting that Microsoft relaxed its Vista virtualization rules only after BIOS maker Phoenix Technologies complained to regulators.

Digital Filmmakers Are On “Cusp of a Whole New Industry”, Printer Ink Profits, 3D Printing, Blu-ray, MIX08, Windows On ASUS Eee, and Dell in Tough(book)

Intel Believes Digital Filmmakers Are On “Cusp of a Whole New Industry” – Don MacDonald speaking on a panel at the Cinequest Film Festival indicated that he believes digital filmmakers are on “Cusp of a Whole New Industry”. In the video available at http://tinyurl.com/2y5fq6, MacDonald outlines historical data relating to the birth of the Radio and Television mediums, the penetration rate of the technology and how the Inernet may have reached the point where Digital Filmmakers have a distribution medium that Intel beleives will be a whole new industry.

Making 3D Printing Mainstream

Here is a strange one. In hopes of jump-starting the 3-D printing revolution, OpenMoko, a maker of open source mobile devices, is offering its phone case CAD files to anyone who wants them. The CAD files have been made available under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license. The hope is that by making use of those files, individuals having access to 3D printers will be able to create their own flesh for their phones. http://tinyurl.com/2yuymv

Dell Introduces Competition For Panasonic Toughbook

It was great to learn that Dell has introduced a Latitude XFR D630 laptop. http://www.dell.com/xfr. We’ve used the Panasonic Tougbooks in our Virtual Audio Lab at Ryerson and purchased the Toughbooks because we actually hand out the laptops for field recording purposes and we’ve found them to be excellent. Event though the Toughbook versions we purchased are considered semi-rugged, after two years of operation we’ve yet to have one go in for service despite constant use by student.

Like the Toughbook, Dell’s has a 1394 connector which makes it ideal for streming video from the field. The D630 laptop is designed for reliable performance and it meets the strict military standard, MIL-STD 810F, for extreme temperatures, shock/drop, moisture, altitude and more. http://www.ocruggedlaptops.com/milstd810f.html. In looking up the information for this blog I came across www.ocruggedlaptops.com. It has a number of other rugged components including printers and PDA”s.

ASUS Officially Launches Eee PC with Microsoft Windows Operating System

The ASUS Eee PC has made quite an impression since it was launched a few months ago. Originally launched with Linux Asus has announced it now works with the Windows Operating system. http://eeepc.asus.com/global/news03052008.htm. In addition ASUS is building upon the product with its ASUS’ 9-inch Eee PC ( http://www.engadget.com/2008/03/04/asus-9-inch-eee-pc-now-with-living-pixels/ and http://eeepc.asus.com/global/news03042008.htm) that was announced at Cebit 2008 a couple of days ago. These new technologies will bring about a brand new concept for Internet access with 1G of memory, larger storage of up to 12GB.

Between the ASUS Eee PC’s and the One Laptop Per Child computer, there currently is a revolution in smaller lighter computers and I’m not referring to Apple’s MacBook Air. HP might be moving into the arena with an HP Compaq 2133 UMPC Laptop that Gizmotto describes as “a laptop looks like the Asus Eee PC’s cooler cousin.” (http://tinyurl.com/2kst7y). The GeCube Genie small form-factor low-cost system has 10.2” screen (http://tinyurl.com/3c9up8) Elonex is launching a £99 student laptop in the UK http://tinyurl.com/2jsoxe, while the MSI Wind, a subnotebook very much in the style of the Eee. http://tinyurl.com/2staa8

Steve Ballmer and Guy Kawasaki Keynote at MIX08

After mentioning in my last blogpost that I don’t get how Steve Balmer of Microsoft always seems to be the last person to come to the party, I watched his keynote address at MIX08. It’s not really a keynote per-say it’s more like an interview and in watching it I thought his sense of humour was great. In my opinion he didn’t address the Vista rollout even all that well adn wouldn’t talk about the Seattle Supersonics but he did mention “Monkey Boy”. (http://tinyurl.com/2x63xc). And for those who don’t think that a conference can’t survive by putting its content on-line for free, think again. Balmer mentions how conferences have changed during his keynote and you;ll find all MIX08 sessions –actually 07 and 06 as well– online at http://sessions.visitmix.com.

While on the subject of Microsoft this article tilted “Your Windows XP computer is more safe if you don’t set any password at all.” provides some food for thought. http://tinyurl.com/2fwevp . Rumours spread this weekend that Google and Microsoft are bidding for digg.com. http://tinyurl.com/2kdbpg

Blu-ray/Optical Media Watch

Well since I started a rant on Blue-ray a few posts ago it appears Cinram is eying growth in the Blu-ray market after the demise of the HD DVD format. http://tinyurl.com/yw9e4r. This announcement almost coincided with another couple of announcement including Canada’s Future Shop offering and HD DVD deal where they will give current HD-DVD owners a chance to trade in their unit for an upgrade to a dual HD DVD / Blu-ray player (http://tinyurl.com/2b2422), while Amazon cuts the price of Blu-ray titles to $14.95 (http://tinyurl.com/2p63pq)

TB Optical Disk Recording

In other optical media items I came across TeraDisk. It’s a one TB optical disk that employs 200 layer recording to achieve the density. http://tinyurl.com/2jbr7l

Printer Ink Profits

When I was a kid growing up in downtown Toronto in the mid-1960’s a company called Duncan marketed Yo-Yo’s and Spin Tops to children. These toys were marketed primarily by other kids (14ish) who would show up after school and run competitions using the toys in front of the stores that sold the toys as the kids walked home from school. These were the days long before video games and even television had caused the cocooning effect that we see today. It was also still an era where most schoolchildren walked to and from school instead of being driven which seems to be the norm today. Often these tournements would result in an occasional spin top or Yo-Yo given away, usually to children who did not own one of the toys.

It was in those early days that I learned one of the tricks of marketing and it remains to this day. Those old spin-tops required strings and tips that would quickly wear out and even with a free toy one would quickly become a consumer of Duncan’s products. While HP is not the only company who engages in this market philosophy it’s almost bizzare to realize that HP derived 42 percent of its $2.63 billion total operating profit in the latest quarter from printer ink. It did this despite commanding approx. 20 percent of the worldwide PC market –Dell has 15 percent–. http://tinyurl.com/36y2du

While there are some great reports on the Internet about the cost of HP ink, (HP Ink Costs More Than Human Blood, Booze – http://tinyurl.com/y7vaq5 ), (HP finds formula to turn ink to gold – http://tinyurl.com/235kon) , (Ever Wonder Why Ink Costs So Much? http://tinyurl.com/2csvjc) what I cant figure out is why I can’t seem to make my HP printer drivers remain set in “draft print” 0r mono mode. Up until a few years ago I was able to set any HP printers I owned to draft b&w mode at the printer driver level. That way anyone who printed a document from anywhere on the network the default printer setting would be set to black ink only and in “draft” mode that would save on ink. Today, all printers come with colour and black ink cartidges and I have yet to figure out how to set the printer setting permanently to black only so the printer won’t come back with an errror message that it’s out of colour ink. I have an HP 920c printer and if anyone knows the secret to the printers setting(s) please leave me a comment. I’d sure appreciate it.

Random Thoughts

TV Sets In Third Graders Bedrooms One study of third graders put the number of TV sets in their bedroom at 70 percent. http://tinyurl.com/2edsuw

Help In Finding Meteorites

University of Western Ontario Astronomers are asking Parry Sound residents to help find meteorites. http://tinyurl.com/2fthdb

LucidTouch

LucidTouch overcomes ‘fat fingers on the touch screen’ problem. http://tinyurl.com/2n56pq

Orchestrating More Online Profits

A panel of experts at the Canadian Music Week (most American from what I could tell by the article) concluded that file-sharers should get ready to payfor online music, television and movies. I ask with tariff’s on Optical Media in Canada, that’s supposed to artists, money collected by BDU’s to support Canadian media production, and the fact that I have to pay for a basic cable service that covers channels I don’t want and can get for free, how many more way’s are we going to be expected to pay for media in Canada? http://tinyurl.com/3dmgq7 The silence from the “experts” is deafening.