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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Is Windows Collapsing?

Gartner analysts Michael Silver and Neil MacDonald told attendees of a Gartner-sponsored conference in Las Vegas that "Most users do not understand the benefits of Windows Vista or do not see Vista as being better enough than Windows XP to make incurring the cost and pain of migration worthwhile.", during their presentation titled "Windows is Collapsing". The trend amongst developers is not to develop for operating systems but rather develop for the web. There is much speculation that this revelation is driving Microsoft's attempts to merge with Yahoo! as the OS market holds little promise for them. The CBC has more here.

Holodeck Like Interface To Second Life

Check out this video from the guys who made Second Life possible. Using a 3d camera and the Segway as their inspiration Mitchell Kapor and Philippe Bossut have developed an interface to the 3d world of Second Life that is driven solely by body movements! It's reminiscent of the holodeck. of Star Trek's Federation starships! Cool! More at

Friday, April 11, 2008

Israeli Army Limits Social Network Usage

In a story reminiscent of a recent post about similar actions taken by the Canadian military, the Israeli defense officials have produced a new set of rules aimed at preventing it's soldiers and Defense Ministry staff from revealing classified information on social networking sites, like Facebook. According to the Globe and Mail "The rules allow soldiers to create pages on networking sites as long as they do not identify themselves as soldiers or reveal any information about what they do." The issue appears to be the posting of sensitive information and images to the sites, government officials are concerned that some soldiers have uploaded pictures of themselves with classified equipment.

Phoenix Mars Lander Adjusts Path Getting Ready For May Landing

The Phoenix Mars Lander is getting ready for a planned landing on the red planet on the 25th of May. The lander's flight path was adjusted by NASA engineers, setting the course for Phoenix to land in an area known as the Green Valley. The Conditional landing spot will be re-evaluated after NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter takes additional images of the area this month. A NASA press release says "The orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera has taken more than three dozen images of the area. Analysis of those images prompted the Phoenix team to shift the center of the landing target 8 miles southeastward, away from slightly rockier patches to the northwest. Navigators used that new center for planning today's maneuver." With all of the successes that NASA has had, landing on Mars is a tricky operation "Landing on Mars is extremely challenging. In fact, not since the 1970's have we had a successful powered landing on this unforgiving planet. There's no guarantee of success, but we are doing everything we can to mitigate the risks," said Doug McCuistion, director of NASA's Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Blockbuster Rumoured To Be On Verge Of Offering Set-Top Box - Streaming Video

The Hollywood Reporter has posted an article that claims Blockbuster is close to launching a streaming video on demand service similar to Apple TV. The company refused to comment but the Hollywood Reporter is quoting a Blockbuster spokeswoman as saying "We're talking to numerous companies and vendors about products, services, alliances and initiatives that can help us achieve our mission to transform Blockbuster into a company that provides access to media content across multiple channels -- from our stores, by mail, through kiosks, through downloading, through portable content-enabled devices-- so it's not surprising that there are rumors out there."

With all of the current options for obtaining movie content, it will be interesting to see if Blockbuster can make this service work. They've not exactly lead the way with innovative delivery methods to date.

Rental Cars Going Green?

There appears to be a growing trend amongst rental car companies towards hybrids, or so says CNN. The growth is definitely slow and cautious, "At the end of the day, it's the consumer that drives rental fleeting," said Neil Abrams, president of Abrams Consulting Group Inc., "Rental car companies can buy a lot of cars their customers don't want to drive, and they'll be sitting in a lot and gathering dust." According to the article, Enterprise Rent-A-Car has opened four new "green branches" in Atlanta where about 60 percent of the vehicles at the branch will be hybrids or other fuel-efficient vehicles. Enterprise has built its hybrid fleet to 4,000 vehicles in its total fleet of 1.1 million, while Hertz Global Holdings Inc. said it's adding 3, 500 Toyota Prius this year, and Avis Budget Group Inc. says it now offers 2,500 hybrid vehicles in it's total fleet of 1.8 million. While it is a drop in the bucket, the trend is positive, and exposes drivers to the gas sipping vehicles.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Flickr Unleashes Video Sharing

Photo sharing site Flickr, has just launched a new video sharing feature to paying "pro members". Unlike Youtube, Flickr's service is limited to 90 seconds of video and is intended as an extension to their photo sharing concept, where videos uploaded are meant to be ones that you yourself have taken... read no posting videos of Ashley Simpson on Saturday Night Live or clips from The Daily Show. More details can be found on the Flickr blog. I've always been a fan of Flickr, and I think those who use the site will respect the "home grown" philosophy. I'm anxious to see what appears.

The Ultimate In Geek Culture

It's probably safe for me to assume that you are a geek, since you are reading this blog. Then it's probably also safe for me to assume that you will appreciate this ASCII version of the original Star Wars movie! I can only imagine how much time must have gone into producing this tribute flick. You've got to check it out...

Windows XP and earlier:
  1. Go to Start > Run.
  2. In the Run box, type “cmd” ( without the quotes ) and hit OK to open the command prompt windows.
  3. Within command prompt, type “telnet” ( without the quotes ) and hit ENTER.
  4. Enjoy!

MAC users, go to Terminal and type “telnet” (without the quotes).

Found at's Web Junkie

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Military Gives Praise To Robots In The Field

The U.S. Army's civilian director of ground combat systems, Kevin Fahey kicked off the fifth annual RoboBusiness conference in Pittsburgh, PA. The gathering of robotics company insiders heard praise during Fahey's keynote address. "Any time you can get out of harm's way, you're interested," he said. "Even though I'm trained to go into that cave, I'd much rather have that robot go in." In 2004 the army was using 162 robots, the number grew to 5,000 in 2007 and will be up to 6,000 in total this year. iRobot's Chief Executive says "We really don't have the killer application yet to drive things," he said. "There is obviously the opportunity here to do more." As a very satisfied owner of an iRobot Roomba I'll add that "Even though I'm trained to vacuum the living room floor, I'd much rather have the robot go in" Now when is iRobot going to release a lawn mowing robot? CBC story here.

Facebook Quietly Rolls Out Chat Feature

PCWorld is reporting that Facebook has added an instant messaging service, though it is in limited release so you may not see it on your profile page. Facebook Chat is an instant messaging service that is tied to your facebook user name. According to the official Facebook blog "We'll be rolling this out slowly going forward, but fairly soon you'll notice our new Chat bar at the bottom of your browser—no installation or assembly required. From this bar you can view your list of online friends and open conversations with any or all of them." Chat is certainly not new but the feature is definitely a natural fit for the social networking site, it will definitely increase the sites stickyness!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Facebook Putting Lawsuit To Rest With Settlement

The NY Times Bits Blog is reporting that Facebook is finalizing a settlement with Mark Zuckerberg's former classmates and ConnectU founders Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and their colleague, Divya Narendra. The trio have said that Zuckerberg had stolen their idea after they had hired him to work on their own project. Facebook counter sued for unfair business practices but now appears to have come to a settlement agreement with ConnectU, no doubt hoping to make the whole thing go away.

Yahoo! Said To Be Poised For A Response... Not Intimidated By Microsoft Ultimatum

Yahoo! is believed to be ready to shoot back at Steve Ballmer's letter of ultimatum issued on the weekend. The board considers Microsoft's offer to undervalue the company's worth. The offer of $31 per share of Yahoo!, on February 1st, has actually gone down to about $29 a share as Microsoft's shares have fell during the time since and the offer contains a share swap. The New York Times is reporting "Yahoo’s response is expected to reject negotiations and explain why Yahoo’s board believes the current offer price is too low." We'll just have to wait and see who forms the more compelling argument in the shareholders eyes.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

ISP's Take On Bell Over Traffic-Shaping Policy

In mid-March, Canadian telecom giant Bell extended its "traffic-shaping" policy to the smaller independent companies that rent its network. Under traffic shaping, Bell identifies certain Internet applications, like BitTorrent, and throttles bandwidth to customers using these protocols during peak traffic periods. The Canadian Association of Internet Providers, which has 55 members that represent about 100,000 customers across Canada, has asked the CRTC (Canadian Radio Telecommunication Commission) to issue a cease-and-desist order on Bell's throttling of their Internet speeds. The companies are arguing that Bell has an unfair advantage against them, particularly because it sells its own competing Internet services under the Sympatico brand. In a filing to the CRTC, the association says Bell's action has "caused serious degradation of the performance and service speeds of the retail internet access and other services offered by independent ISPs," In it's defense Bell representative Mirko Bibic says "We're taking reasonable steps in a very objective fashion to manage the issue. Wholesale and retail operations are being treated exactly the same so there is no issue about undue preference or discrimination."

It will be interesting to see how the CRTC rules on this, but even if it rules in the favour of the independent companies, has Bell already caused them irreparable harm?