Technology

Technology

Microsoft Starts Countdown For IE6

With Internet Explorer 9 nearing launch and developers clamoring for HTML 5, the software maker is hoping the countdown will quicken the browser’s extinction.

Slideshow: Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 Beta Revealed

Microsoft has launched a countdown site to track what the software maker hopes is a sooner-than-later death for the 10-year-old Internet Explorer 6.

With IE 9 near completion, Microsoft said Friday its time for IE 6 fans to say bye bye to the trusted friend that clings to life despite being superseded by three generations of the Web browser. “C’mon IE6, it’s time for a modern Web, so nice knowing you and all that but … buhbye,” Steve Clayton, director of cloud strategy for Microsoft, said in the company’s blog.

Microsoft’s IE 6 Countdown site says 12% of worldwide Web users were surfing with the old brows as of the end of February. Asia is where the browser is used the most. China leads with more than 34% of Internet users still on IE 6.

Microsoft plans to continue with the countdown until IE 6 usage follows below 1%. A year ago, 21% of Web users were on the outdated browser.

Web site developers face the biggest problems in having IE 6 on life support. With so many people still using the browser, they have to continue to support it with older technology, while also programming with new technology for the younger browsers. Microsoft said IE 6 is one of the biggest hurdles developers face while trying to move the rest of the Web to HTML 5, the latest of the core markup language for Web sites. Among the best features of the new technology is the ability to play video on a page without the need for proprietary plug-ins.

Microsoft is also hot to get IE 6 users to upgrade to IE 9. The release candidate of the new browser shipped in February, marking the final milestone before it is officially released this year.

Microsoft is hoping IE 9 will reverse Internet Explorer’s slipping market share. In February 2009, IE’s various versions accounted for a collective 70% of the market. Today, they represent about 56%. The browser’s main rival for years has been Mozilla Firefox. More recently, Google Chrome has been gobbling up share.

Maintaining a dominant position is important to Microsoft because it means greater influence with developers.

Now in its fifth year, Web 2.0 Expo is for the builders of the next-generation Web: designers, developers, entrepreneurs, marketers, and business strategists. It happens March 28-31 in San Francisco. Register now.

The iPad 2

The iPad 2

Apple has just made its second-generation iPad official! It features a 1GHz dual-core A5 chip and, finally, cameras, both on the front and rear. The new CPU is said to be up to twice as fast, with graphics performance up to nine times better than on the original iPad, while power requirements have been kept the same. Battery life is, consequently, unaltered, with Apple promising 10 hours. Pricing, too, has been left unchanged, starting at $499 for a 16GB WiFi-only iPad 2 and stretching up to $829 for a WiFi + 3G SKU with 64GB of storage. The new tablet will come with an HDMI output capable of 1080p — which will set you back $39 for the requisite dongle, called an Apple Digital AV Adapter — but there will sadly be no rumblings of Thunderbolt connectivity here. What you will get is an enlarged speaker grille on the back, as expected, and the same 1024 x 768 resolution and IPS LCD screen technology as on the original iPad.

Update from Engadget: We’ve gotten our first hands-on with the iPad 2 and, boy oh boy, it’s fast! – awesome.

The iPad 2

720p video recording at 30fps will be on tap from the rear-facing camera, which can also do a 5x digital zoom if you’re into that kind of thing, whereas the front-facing imager will record at a more modest VGA resolution, also at 30fps.

There’s a new cover for the device, which is best defined by Steve Jobs himself: “We designed the case right alongside the product. It’s not a case — it’s a cover.” Basically, it’s a magnetic flap that protects the front and automatically wakes and puts the device to sleep according to whether it’s open or closed. Guess we know what that proximity sensor was about now. These Smart Covers will cost $39 in plastic or $69 if you opt for leather.

The iPad 2 is 33 percent thinner than its predecessor, at a mind-melting 8.8mm, and a little lighter at just over 600g, while paintjob options have been expanded: you’ll get a choice between white and black. It’ll be available on both AT&T and Verizon, and all variants start shipping on March 11th. Apple Retail Stores will start sales at the unusual hour of 5PM, which will probably make online pre-orders the fastest way to get yours.

The iPad 2

In terms of new software, Apple’s launching iOS 4.3 alongside the new iPad and bringing with it much improved Safari performance as well as FaceTime, Photo Booth, iMovie and GarageBand (the latter two costing $4.99 a piece) apps specifically for the newly camera-enriched iPad. Personal Hotspot capabilities are also arriving in the latest version of the OS, but they’ll be exclusive to the iPhone 4, so you won’t be able to share your 3G iPad’s connection. The minimum compatible version of iTunes for the new iPad 2 will be the freshly released 10.2.

The iPad 2

Thinking Your Way Through Traffic in a Brain-Control Car

Thinking Your Way Through Traffic in a Brain-Control Car

John Prine wasn’t far off when he sang in “Living In the Future” that “we’re all driving rocket ships and talking with our minds.” We’re still waiting for our rocket ships, but German researchers have developed a car you can drive with your mind.

BrainDriver uses off-the-shelf parts, including an electroencephalography system designed for gaming, to control an autonomous Volkswagen Passat. The car isn’t very fast, and it responds to only rudimentary commands, but it brings us one step closer to the day we’re simply passengers along for the ride in vehicles that drive themselves.

The whole thing was not done as a real application for today, but as a ‘technology push,’ as a proof of concept of what technology can already achieve” says Raul Rojas, a professor of artificial intelligence at the Free University of Berlin. “An intriguing question is how to ‘hybridize’ human and machine, and it was fun to try this with our car.

The thought-controlled car underscores the pace of development since Darpa kick-started autonomous vehicle research in 2004 with the Grand Challenge. In the past six months alone we’ve seen a robotic Audi TTS scale Pikes Peak and students at Virginia Tech University develop a car the blind can drive. Volvo has participated in a successful test of autonomous “road trains,” and Google’s autonomous cars have racked up more than 140,000 miles.

Although we’re still a long way from the day our cars do the driving for us, we’re seeing some of the technology in production cars. Adaptive cruise control is but one example of artificial intelligence on four wheels.

Last year Rojas and his colleagues developed EyeDriver, a car you control with eye movements. That got them thinking about using the human mind to control a vehicle directly.

Thinking Your Way Through Traffic in a Brain-Control Car
BrainDriver uses an electroencephalography headset developed by Emotiv. Sixteen sensors measure the brain’s electromagnetic signals and send them to a computer. The computer translates them into directions — turn left, turn right, accelerate, stop — for the car’s drive-by-wire autonomous system to control the brakes, accelerator and steering.

Of course this is somewhat slow for real driving. since the interpretation-integration of commands takes some time, and therefore you need a big open space to test.” Rojas says.

The technology also doesn’t work with everyone.

There is something people in the brain-computer interface community call ‘BCI literacy,’ that is, that you can really use a BCI and control a computer,” Rojas says. “For unknown reasons a big chunk of the population is BCI-illiterate.

That required testing a handful of students. Only the most “literate” one was turned loose in the Passat.

He is so good that our psychologists at the university are starting now to measure him with much more sensors and even to scan him in an fMRI machine,” Rojas says. “They want to find out why some people are BCI-illiterate and others aren’t.

The team tested the tech two weeks ago at Tempelhof airport to avoid hitting anything, and on campus — albeit with more rigorous control by the human driver. Although the technology works, Rojas says it probably has little application in automobiles.

Since our main goal is that the car drives itself, and we just give commands now and then, probably speech recognition is a better choice,” he says. “But BCI is fascinating, and I cannot really foresee now where all this is going.

Rojas and his team plan to demonstrate their autonomous car with a real-world test in Berlin traffic later this year.

We are about to receive the permission from the city, and we already insured the car for 25 million euros” [$34.5 million], he says. “We don’t think we will need the insurance but the city is not taking any chances!

Photos and video: Freie Universität Berlin.

via, Wired

Facebook Photo Theater Killer Gets Rid Of Facebook’s New Photo View Mode

Facebook recently rolled out a new photo viewer which they say “makes it simpler and faster to navigate photos”. The benefit of the new photo viewer is the fact that no new pages are loaded even if the user views multiple photos on Facebook.

Facebook’s new photo viewer has caused quite the controversy among Facebook users with more than 2200 mostly negative comments about it. There are some that like the new style of the photo viewer while the majority does not like its features at all to say it mildly. When there is controversy there is usually a workaround around the next corner.

There are actually a few things that Facebook users can do to get rid of the new photo viewer. From manual workarounds like reloading the web page (hit f5 in the browser) to Ctrl-clicking (or middle-clicking) the photo to open it in a new tab so that the new photo viewer is circumvented to userscripts like the Facebook Photo Theater Killer

he userscript basically replaces the new photo viewer on Facebook with the old viewer that is still accessible. It is however not clear if Facebook will keep the old photo viewer up and running indefinitely. The userscript will break the moment Facebook disables the old photo viewer. For now, it is working perfectly.

The Greasemonkey script for now offers the only automatic solution to prevent the opening of photos in Facebook’s new photo viewer.

The script is compatible with Firefox if the Greasemonkey add-on is installed in the browser and Google Chrome if the Tampermonkey extension has been installed.

Users should see no sign of the new Facebook photo anymore after the script has been installed. Previous versions of the userscript showed the new viewer for a split second before the old photo viewer page was loaded.

Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox users can download and install the userscript from its Userscripts.org page.

via, gHacks

Apple unveils subscription service in App Store

Apple launched a subscription service at the App Store for magazines, newspapers, videos, and music bought through its App Store.

In a move that goes a long way to addressing concerns of many in the magazine and newspaper sectors, Apple said today that publishers will be allowed to set the price and the length of the subscription term. The processing of payments will be Apple’s job and handled within the App Store. Apple will collect 30 percent of the revenue.

Our philosophy is simple,Steve Jobs wrote in a statement. “When Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share. When the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing.

All we require,” Jobs continued, “is that if a publisher is making a subscription offer outside of the app, the same (or better) offer be made inside the app, so that customers can easily subscribe with one-click right in the app.

The Apple iPad has proven to be a popular media-consumption device and magazine and newspaper executives are typically excited about the tablet’s appeal as an e-reader. But to get their content on the iPad, some in the newspaper and magazine sectors are dissatisfied with the money Apple once offered–a 30 percent cut forever. They were also unhappy with the amount of control Apple would exercise over subscriptions and user data.

But this latest offer from Apple Inc is more publisher friendly, said Chuck McCullagh, a former senior vice president with the Magazine Publishers Association of America.

Apple should become a significant channel and this might reduce pain [for publishers],” McCullagh told CNET. “If Apple brings a customer to app it gets 30 percent. When publisher brings new or existing subscriber, Apple gets nothing. That is an advance.

But McCullagh, who is now a consultant and advises magazines on their digital strategies, also still sees some sticking points. Apple’s requirement that publishers must offer the same subscription for the app as it does out of it, could “bump into the common publisher practice of selling subscriptions at different prices across [distribution] channel’s,” McCullagh said. Some of those channels include the publisher’s Web site, direct mail and newsstands.

Apple said this is the same digital-subscription billing service that the company recently launched with The Daily app, created by News Corp. for the Apple iPad, In that case as with the latest announcement, Apple is giving subscribers the option to provide personal information, such as name and e-mail address, to publishers. This won’t meet the needs of the publishers, McCullagh said, adding that publishers don’t want third parties overseeing their relationship with readers.

Apple said that the relationship between the publisher and the App Store isn’t exclusive. Publishers can sell subscriptions on their own site or offer free access to existing customers, Subscriptions can be weekly, monthly, bimonthly, quarterly, biannual, or annual.

Publishers must provide their own authentication process within the app for subscribers who have signed up for service outside the App Store, according to Apple.

Chuck McCullagh is the father of CNET.com reporter Declan McCullagh.

%d bloggers like this: