Archive for September, 2010

September 30, 2010

India Forces A Billion People to Register for Security Database

Claiming that it is an attempt to ensure everyone receive the welfare and services due them, India today began forcing each of its 1.14 billion people to register with an online database. Using biometric data and personal information to authenticate, this system with assign a 12 digit number to each Indian. The claim that such a system will prevent fraud, increase efficiency and help the Indian on the street strains credulity given the government’s actions over the past several months.In rapid succession, India has threatened RIM if they do not decrypt their Blackberry users’ information; they subsequently expanded the threat to every single company with a site or tool that uses encryption. That, along with the government’s inability to clean a sink, makes their motivations . . . suspect.Although the project is being called elective, the ability of any employer or any government official to demand the ID makes it mandatory. The 12-digit number will be listed on, or embedded in, all major governmental cards, such as driver’s licenses.The project is being assisted by both domestic and diaspora technicians, including officials from the photo-sharing service Snapfish and the search engines Google and Yahoo, Sun and Intel. It is being led by Nandan Nilekani, the former CEO of Infosys. Infosys was the pioneer in off-shoring tech work to India.
September 30, 2010

Google Says Mobile Will Dwarf the Web; Microsoft Could be the Loser

“One day mobile searches and mobile revenue will far outpace those from the Web “
Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
One day mobile searches and mobile revenue will far outpace those from the Web, believes Google CEO Eric Schmidt. He doesn’t expect that to happen any time soon. But if he’s right, the big winner will be Google, and the big loser likely Microsoft.According to Reuters, Schmidt told the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco:”Eventually we think mobile will be the majority of the searches and the majority of the revenue, but it’s a long time.”Key to Google’s success on mobile is its development of Android and giving it away to phone makers, because Google is the default search engine, mapping app, email app, and more on Android. So the lion’s share of ad revenue comes its way.
September 30, 2010

More top execs to depart Yahoo

The executive turmoil at the very top of Yahoo continues, with the company poised to announce the resignations of three top execs, including U.S. head Hilary Schneider, according to sources close to the situation.The other execs also leaving, which Yahoo is planning on revealing Friday: U.S. Audience head David Ko and, as BoomTown previously reported, VP of Media Jimmy Pitaro.
September 30, 2010

StartTalking lets you text with just your voice

Texting while driving is a serious safety problem, so much so that the activity is now banned in 30 states in the United States.How dangerous is it? The U.S. Department of Transportation says that drivers who do anything with a hand-held device increase the risk of getting in an injury crash by four times–a concept that can be easy to ignore if you’ve gotten away with it unscathed.A company called AdelaVoice, based out of East Falmouth, Massachusetts–a state where beginning tomorrow, texting while driving will become up to a $500 offense, has come up with a solution for the problem, called StartTalking. Instead of paying attention to your phone, you’ll just be able to talk to it, and have it send what you say as a text. Likewise, when someone sends you a message, it will read it back.Does it work? Most of the time, yes. And maybe best of all, it’s free of charge.Once installed on your Android phone (the company plans to offer it on other platforms, like the iPhone, and BlackBerry soon), it runs quietly in the background and listens for voice prompts to begin an action. The two prompts that are coming in this first iteration of the product are “computer” and “operator,” though in future versions you’ll be able to program in whatever word you want.After you’ve picked the prompt, it’s as simple as saying “operator: text message for (insert name of your friend here).” It confirms you want to send a message to that person, and then you just begin speaking. When you’re done talking, it runs that speech through conversion, and plays it back for you. You then have the option to re-record, add to it, send, or get rid of the message entirely.When new messages arrive, the app alerts you to the fact, and offers to read them back to you. Other commands also let you listen to other messages in your in-box, clear a conversation log, read the time out loud, and even send out status updates to both Facebook and Twitter. The whole time this is going on, the phone can have its screen off, and be well away from your line of sight.Besides text, the service lets users send and receive audio messages. These can be anywhere from just a few seconds to 10 minutes. Just like text messages, you can begin a voice recording with a voice prompt, and the person who gets that message does not have to have StartTalking installed to listen to them. Instead, that audio file is hosted and will play back in the recipient’s mobile Web browser.To get its database of names from your phone, it can either slurp in your contact list, or you can select the names, and Google contact groups you want it to learn. We tested it with around a dozen names, and the whole process took just a couple of minutes. At any point you can also go in to add or remove people.One thing to keep in mind is that the more people add, the more chances there are for it to mistake your prompts for someone else. This happened several times, not only with names, but with actions. For instance, saying “send message” at the end of an SMS to a contact ended up canceling that action, and causing me to have to re-record the entire thing all over again. That is the sort of thing where if it happens more than once while you’re driving, you’re likely to get frustrated . .
September 29, 2010

Previewing Google’s New Operating System

Google open-sourced its Chromium OS project, more than a year before the operating system is scheduled for release. Google hopes a variety of developers and companies will become involved in the project, and has pledged to release regular updates as well as a comprehensive log of bug reports and fixes.What we are going to talk about is Google’s design vision for Chromium, the unique benefits it offers, and a bit of why Google is throwing its hat into this particular ring in the first place. Chromium, after all, is a Linux-based OS entering the smartbook/netbook market at a time when said product segment is already being served by a variety of Linux distros (some customized to the hardware, some not), XP, and Windows 7. In the midst of all these options, do we need another operating system? 

Chromium is designed around the premise that computers have largely evolved into boxes from which we access the Internet. If you’ve ever lost Internet service (but not electricity) for a protracted period of time, you’ve probably seen the company’s point. Evaluated in terms of what a modern system is capable of doing, getting online is but one, minor feature. From a user perspective, however, Internet connectivity is a matter of tremendous importance—lose the net, and your system transforms from a communications platform/multimedia hub into a box for writing papers, gaming alone… or something .Chromium simplifies the concept of an application the same way it simplifies the operating system i.e., by throwing most of it away. Chromium apps won’t just interface with the web or contain web-based components, they’ll exist there. The ‘cloud’ in cloud computing thus transforms from an abstract concept of computing resources or storage floating vaguely in space into something much more unique and personal. The cloud has literally become your cloud—your life, online. Checkout the video describing Chromium project below.

Whats Google Chromium Os?

September 29, 2010

OpenIndiana Picks up Where OpenSolaris Left off

For those disappointed by Oracle’s decision to discontinue supporting a free version of its Solaris Unix-like operating system, a new alternative emerged to take its place. OpenIndiana is part of the Illumos Foundation. OpenIndiana will be built on the last available version of OpenSolaris and will contain bits of Solaris 11. OpenIndiana is the new OpenSolaris.OpenIndiana is said to be compatible with Solaris 11 and Solaris 11 Express and should be an easy drop-in replacement for those systems. Initially OpenIndiana will contain some closed-source code since the current code-base is not fully open. These bits will eventually be replaced by fully Open Source code.OpenIndiana was born out of the need of many companies who relied upon Solaris and OpenSolaris for their businesses. When Oracle bought Sun, it changed the license of Solaris 10 (the previous version) so that it was no longer free to use and increased the price of their contracts to $1000 – $2000 per socket per year. For those that that prefer Solaris over other Open Source alternatives – such as the founder of OpenIndiana – an alternative option now exists. With OpenIndiana, former Solaris users can switch and receive free security updates and regular releases.
September 29, 2010

Robots Could Improve Everyday Life at Home or Work (ScienceDaily!)

“Assistant professor of computer science Ashutosh Saxena is working to bring such robots into homes and offices. He leads Cornell’s Personal Robotics Lab, which develops software for complex, high-level robotics. Among the lab’s goals are programming robots that can clean up a disheveled room, assemble an Ikea bookshelf and load and unload a dishwasher — all without human intervention.
Saxena, who joined the Cornell faculty in 2009, believes robots can make people’s lives better and more productive.”Just like people buy a car, I envision that in five to 10 years, people will buy an assistive robot that will be cheaper or about the same cost as a car,” Saxena said.
One of the biggest technical challenges is endowing robots with the ability to learn in uncertain environments. It’s one thing to make a robot do simple tasks: Pick up this pen. Move to the left. Do a 360. It’s quite another to make a robot understand how to pick up an object it’s never encountered or navigate a room it’s never seen.
Saxena, who led the manipulation group in the STAIR project (Stanford Artificial Intelligence Robot) at Stanford University, has researched how to make robots perceive information in cluttered and unknown environments. His work has also enabled robots to estimate depth from a single image.
“For example, if you look at a new object, how would you pick it up? If you are in a new environment, how do you figure out how far away things are?” he said.
On a typical afternoon in Upson Hall’s Personal Robotics Lab, Saxena and his students can be found huddled around a computer perfecting the coding to make their robots come alive.
One of their research platforms is a robotic arm with a gripper. Using a camera, the robot evaluates an object — say, a cup or plate — and figures out how best to grab it. This technology will eventually integrate into the full-fledged dishwasher-loading robot.
Graduate student Yun Jiang has worked on a fast, efficient algorithm to make the robotic arm identify what she calls “grasping points,” or the parts of an object that would be best to grab onto. Her main contribution has been to simultaneously find both the location and orientation of the arm when it is picking up an object.
Writing such programs involves finding the balance between the specific features of an object — from the stem of a wine glass to the handle of a brush — and the general geometric patterns that can serve as guidelines for the robot to identify.
September 29, 2010

Sony Ericsson LiveView – Wireless Micro Display for your Android Phone

Sony Ericsson has announced a cool new accessory for Android phones called the LiveView which is a wireless micro display for your phone or in other words a custom remote control. The device connects to your phone via Bluetooth and displays information on it’s 1.3 inch color OLED display. You can also control your music player on the phone and mute the ringer using the device.It is compatible with Sony Eriscsson’s XPERIA X10 range  and the HTC Desire and Samsung Galaxy S, yes the last two devices are mentioned on SE’s site.It can display incoming messages ,  phone number for calls , facebook updates , twitter updates, rss feeds.It does remind us of the new iPod nano but sadly this accessory is not a touchscreen device but has buttons for it’s operation. It charges via microUSB and it comes with a clip and wristband in the sales pack.rice is not revealed but if its sensibly priced , we are going to grab one for sure !

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September 29, 2010

Apple said to have approved official Google Voice app

“We haven’t gotten the chance to use the official Google application, but it’s possible that it will include functionality that the others don’t. Namely, push notifications for inbound SMS and voicemail messages (Google doesn’t provide an API for these, so third parties would have to route these messages through their own servers to offer push notifications). ” — TechCrunch
Google’s app for Google Voice is going to be coming to the App Store for iPhone. Apple’s previously heavy handed approach to app approval appears to be something of the past.Unofficial Google Voice apps have been cropping up in the app store for a couple weeks now — and it was just a matter of time before Apple agreed to approve the official one.TechCrunch says it will happen within a few weeks, which is surely going to make an insane number of iPhone users happy. Even though there are already similar apps in the app store, they all cost money, and are provided by third parties. The official app will likely be free, and contain extra functionality that users will find useful.
September 29, 2010

Is Google building a Serendipity Engine?

Will Google’s search engine eventually evolve into a serendipitous, omnipotent entity?Well, Google CEO Eric Schmidt believes that his company remains on track to build an “augmented version” of humanity.”[We envision] a future where you don’t forget anything. In this new future you’re never lost. We will know your position down to the foot and down to the inch over time,” Schmidt said during a keynote speech at TechCrunch Disrupt transcribed by Technology Review.
”[For example, say] I’m interested in history [and] as I’m walking down the street in San Francisco I want my mobile device to tell me about the history here…Just think of it as a Serendipity Engine.”
Schmidt also noted that smartphones, which he referred to as “defining iconic devices,” were already capable of operating as real-time translators for speech.”We can now demonstrate and are getting ready to ship products that let you speak in English and have it come out of a phone at the other end in German.”[Yes], for me this is [certainly] the stuff of science fiction.”Finally, Schmidt sketched out a near-utopian vision of the future, in which cars drive themselves and people are never lonely, bored, or out of ideas.”[And] this is a future for the average person, not just the elite. Because of technology, because of Internet access, this is a market for one billion now, two billion soon and in our lifetime – five-to-six billion altogether.”