The Nokia Morph: not likely any time soon, sadly
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Chicago (IL) - Riding on the heels of recent market share gains, Mozilla indicated that it will kill Firefox 2 soon, urging Firefox 184.108.40.206 users to upgrade to Firefox 3. The open-source organization hinted that Firefox 2 is approaching end-of-life and confirmed it will cease the development of security and stability updates, which will basically end with version 220.127.116.11. The move is designed to allocate all development resources towards Firefox 3.1 and its mobile counterpart Fennec.
Yes, this one has "forced upgrade" written all over it, but, of course, it is nothing out of ordinary for the software industry. Support for aging and not current applications will vanish at some point and should not come as a surprise.
The time has now come for Firefox 18.104.22.168 users to either upgrade to Firefox 3.x or continue with a browser that may work just fine, but will no longer be maintained and supported. According to a blog post on Mozilla's Dev Center, the open-source organization said it would offer Firefox 22.214.171.124 users a “free” upgrade (well, it is free anyway, no matter how you look at it) to the latest 3.x version of the browser. Firefox 2.x users will start seeing notifications to upgrade to Firefox 3 "in the next couple of days," which will probably lead to a disappearing Firefox 2.x as soon as the final 3.1 build starts shipping.
"It's been four months since the last time Firefox 2 users were offered a 'major update', and in that time we've improved Firefox 3 and seen more and more of our Add-Ons become compatible with that version," wrote Mozilla. "As Firefox 2 is rapidly approaching the point where Mozilla will no longer be actively issuing security and stability updates, we strongly recommend that users consider upgrading to Firefox 3."
There are several reasons why Mozilla pushes Firefox 3 in this particular point in time.
The add-ons ecosystem is a key weapon in Mozilla's arsenal that is unmatched by its rivals. It is no secret that Firefox users like add-ons that let them personalize web browsing environment and extends the capabilities of the browser, with many of them citing add-ons as the sole reason for a switch to Mozilla. But maintaining Firefox 2 and 3 versions of add-ons is becoming increasingly difficult, time consuming and costly. By pushing Firefox 3, Mozilla is doing add-on makers a big favor, especially to developers that are backed by VC capital and whose business model includes making money with their add-ons.
NetApplication's web usage share survey revealed that Firefox sailed past 20% web usage share in November, while IE dropped below 70%. The milestone came at the expense of IE and means Firefox is now installed on one in five network-enabled computers. More precisely, Firefox 3.x grabbed 15.57% of the web usage share, while Firefox 2.x contributed to the remaining 4.8% share.
Firefox 3.1 can translate into more page views and thus higher web usage share as the remaining 2.x users upgrade and learn to appreciate the speed advantage of the updated Gecko and TraceMonkey engines, even without considering interesting new features like Privacy Mode. Transitioning almost 5% of online users who run Firefox 2.x to a speedier version of the browser is a top-priority that will impact Microsoft, which completely overlooked the importance of the browser speed race Mozilla triggered this summer. Last, but not the least, phasing out Firefox 2.x will free Mozilla's development resources to completely focus on Firefox 3.1 and Fennec.
The corporate upgrade perspective
Eagle-eyes readers might note that Mozilla doesn't have to work hard to convince users to upgrade since Firefox is predominantly used by consumers, not business users. This is in sharp contrast to Microsoft, which has been struggling for years to convince corporate IE6 users to make the IE7 move, albeit without much success. IE6 has been entrenched in business environments for years as the de facto standard due to the fact that business web applications were certified for this particular version of the browser when IE was much stronger than it is today.
This fact turns a simple browser upgrade into a major and costly brain transplant for most corporations who rely on IE, as the differences between IE6 and newer versions will require code updates in business applications. As Firefox 3 push brings 2.x users up to date, the benefit of speed may motivate some IT managers and administrators in their companies to re-consider Firefox 3.1 as a possible replacement for IE6 during the next corporate upgrade cycle, especially if IE8 does not close the speed gap. Current browser market share numbers provided by Net Applications suggest that IE6 is losing market share much faster than IE7 or IE8 can pick it up.
According to Net Applications, IE hovered around 69% market share in the first week of December, with about 46-47%% covered by IE7, about 22-23% by IE6 and about 0.8% by IE8 beta. Firefox maintained its 20%+ share, with Firefox 2 holding about 4-5%, Firefox 3.0 15-16%% and Firefox 3.1 beta at about 0.05%.
On Monday, Microsoft launched Oxite, an open-source blogging platform.
However, the software maker was quick to underline that the product is aimed at developers and not intended to directly compete with popular blogging software such as WordPress or Movable Type.
Microsoft posted the Oxite code on its CodePlex Web site on Friday and made an official announcement on Monday. The software, described as an alpha release, is available under the Microsoft Public License, one of Microsoft's OSI-certified open-source licenses.
Oxite is a standards-compliant, extensible content-management system designed to support either blogs or larger Web sites, Microsoft said. The platform includes support for features such as pingbacks, trackbacks, anonymous or authenticated commenting, gravatars (globally recognized avatars), and RSS feeds at any page level, the company said.
Users can create and edit a set of pages on a site, add customized HTML into pages, and support multiple blogs on a single site.
Oxite is also able to integrate with Microsoft developer software such as ASP.Net MVC, Visual Studio Team Suite, and Background Services Architecture. The project began as a way of demonstrating the capabilities of ASP.Net MVC to developers, Microsoft said.
The Web site for Mix Online was built using Oxite, and Microsoft is providing the Mix Online Web site code for developers to learn from. Mix Online is the online community centered on Microsoft's Mix Web developer conference.
Oxite is not a direct competitor to existing, established blogging systems, nor is it intended to challenge Microsoft's own SharePoint, which includes content-management-system capabilities, according to Oxite project coordinator Erik Porter.
The software is intended for developers but could eventually be made suitable for the general public, Porter wrote in an Oxite discussion forum.
"We have no plans to make this anything but a really good developer sample that should be able to run any site you want," he wrote. "That said, this is a community project now and, if the community decides to take it a different direction, we won't stop it."
Matthew Broersma of ZDNet.co.uk reported from London.
By Frank Caron
A few weeks ago, we reported on the news that a programmer was nearing completion on a Linux port of 3D Realms' popular title Prey. Ryan "icculus" Gordon was working to push out the full retail version of the game's binaries. After months of work, he has finally succeeded in bringing the full version of the game to the Linux platform.
In an attempt to keep the entire procedure legal, the full Linux version requires a working CD key and the original CDs or digitally-distributed installation file to get the game up and running. The full single player game is supported and Gordon says that network play is also supported cross-platform with the original PC version. All the information relating to the release and how to install it can be found on icculus' web site.
Prey is a solid shooter, if not an aging one, but it's nevertheless nice to see this port come to fruition. There is no reason that more games can't come to the Linux platform, and if Prey sees a boost in sales... well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. The game does some interested things with perspective and messed with 3D space long before Portal. If you haven't checked it out, get a copy on the cheap.
They say that in a down economy and stock market, one industry that will undoubtedly do well is alcohol. Google apparently gets the message, and has updated their AdWords policies to allow ads for hard liquor. Earlier this year Google updated its policies to allow beer ads, but, apparently things have slipped far enough that it’s time to just go ahead and bring on the good stuff.
There are still some obvious limitations on these ads. For example, Google notes that ads “that directly promote the sale of hard alcohol and liqueurs are still not permissible.” In other words, Google will accept ads promoting drink recipes, but to actually get the stuff, you’ll need to head to your local liquor store. Sorry kids.
The broader story here is that Google is quickly trying to ramp up revenue across the board. Yesterday we saw the company move to make AdWords available specifically for iPhone and G1, while last month YouTube finally got search ads. Essentially, they are trying to counter the downturn in demand for advertising by adding a multitude of new options for advertisers.
Allowing ads for booze are in-line with this strategy, and all jokes aside, might actually be a significant revenue source – the alcohol companies spend an estimated $2 billion on advertising every year.
A common criticism leveled at most p2p clients is that they just ‘help people steal’, but they are actually a great tool to help promote undiscovered artists. This is exactly what FrostWire is trying to accomplish with their new FrostClick service. The results from their first featured artist are very promising.
One of the most common suggestions for artists to make money is to distribute tracks for free as a sampler, and earn money through value-added services like concerts or CDs with physical bonuses. While this is a potentially viable business model for established artists like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, the small or just-starting artist can find it hard to generate a big enough buzz.
That’s where sites like Jamendo and last.fm come in. Often they work in a relational way - “you like this, so we think you’ll like this…” - and can draw a number of new fans. However, it’s rare for peer-to-peer clients themselves to start promoting artists directly, but that’s what FrostWire has done.
Through their new welcome screen, FrostWire users were offered the 6-track album “Oh My” from Sean Fournier for download via BitTorrent. To make things even easier, streaming versions were also available to play, so the music could be sampled without even using the torrent. The key here is the simplicity. With one click, the songs could be played. With another click, the torrent for the songs was launched in the client, and the tracks downloaded.
FrostWire Promoting Sean Fournier
The question that first comes to mind is: Was it a success? Well, in the first weekend, there were over 25,000 downloads according to the FrostClick site. Now, there are over 32,000 completed, and over 1 terabyte of data transferred via BitTorrent. While it’s no longer being promoted, and due to the limited reach and knowledge of the torrent (to FrostWire users), the growth is still impressive.
The rulings involving peer to peer software over the past few years have directed p2p software companies from trying to build the best network for swapping your Madonna and Metallica mp3s, to ones that actively promote their ’significant non-infringing uses’. It may cost the company a little in bandwidth (for the streaming of the example tracks) but the cost of this is less than lengthy court cases around vicarious infringement. The goodwill generated is also a nice bonus, being known as a p2p client that actively promotes small artists is good publicity.
For artists, FrostClick is a unique opportunity to reach out to an audience of millions of music fans. Sean was impressed with the results of the campaign, stating on his blog “My downloads have spiked tremendously since FrostClick / FrostWire stepped in so I wanted to take time to thank everyone over there and let them know that I appreciate all the support! This is awesome!”
FrostClick’s Kademlia told TorrentFreak they want to promote people that could get signed. “We’ll be constantly looking for more professional independent content creators to give our users more legal alternatives and great media for free.” FrostClick is currently promoting Audra Hardt, and they have several other artists lined up for their free promotion service.
Disclaimer: FrostWire is one of our ’sponsors’. This article is written out of free will though, independent of any sponsorship.Original here
German scientists have discovered a method of hydrogen doping that allows the production of higher-performing LEDs and other semiconductors.
These days, LEDs are all the rage: GE dumps the incandescent bulb for LED development.
The scientists provided evidence that hydrogen disturbs the process of doping with zinc oxide (ZnO). But a controlled concentration of hydrogen atoms might be the key to making use of ZnO in semiconductor production.
Doping is necessary to activate semiconductors. It involves inserting foreign atoms into the crystal lattice of a solid. These foreign atoms either release an electron (n-doping), or absorb an electron, thus creating a “hole” in the solid (p-doping).
Scientists have really struggled with p-doping and hydrogen. hydrogen atoms always result in n-doping. And according to ScienceDaily, this disturbs the process greatly. Stupid hydrogen!
P-doping is necessary to create LEDs and transistors.
By the way, zinc oxide is everywhere – thousands of tons are produced all over the world every year! It is used in everything from food to sunscreen. Okay, that’s kinda gross.
Today, Novatel introduced a portable 3G hotspot router, the sleek and minimalistic MiFi, which transforms 3G internet access into a Wi-Fi hotspot wherever it goes to multiple users.
In addition to being a portable internet hotspot, the MiFi also allows for VPN support, custom landing pages, automatic email-syncing and remote management. The internal battery will supposedly last for four hours of use, or 40 hours on standby with one charge. Novatel says the MiFi will be available the first quarter of 2009 through retail outlets and carrier services, for roughly $200 as reported by Engadget. [Boing Boing and Engagdet]
Concepts are a funny phenomenon.
Car manufacturers use them to make us swoon, and then they remove all the cool bits and send yet another horrible hatchback to the showroom.
Mobile phone concepts can be like that too - but while some of the coolest mobile concepts probably won't end up in your pocket any time soon, the technology they show off just might.
So what's coming down the phone pipe?
Here are our five favourites...
1. Sony Ericsson Greenheart
It might not be as exciting as other firms' designs, but Sony Ericsson's Greenheart concept is likely to have a big impact.
In environmental terms mobile phones are as warm and cuddly as Hitler, so SE's boffins are trying to make phones as green as possible.
Greenheart uses bio-plastic housings, recycled plastic keypads and environmentally friendly packaging.
The firm is currently showing Greenheart to "selected partners in the industry" to identify which features should reach mainstream phones first.
2. Emir Rifat's Packet
Let's get the obvious joke out of the way: most men would be delighted if their packet won a prestigious award.
But Packet is no laughing matter: this fantastically foldable mobile phone concept won first place at Instanbul Design Week 2007 and no doubt ensured that industrial design student Rifat won't be short of job offers.
Like most concepts we doubt we'll ever see this one in the real world, but it's a great bit of design nevertheless.
3. Nokia Morph
There's more chance of John Sergeant joining Girls Aloud than there is of Nokia's Morph coming to a Carphone Warehouse near you, but as an example of gee-whiz we've-drank-lots-of-cider thinking it's hard to beat.
In the far future, Nokia reckons, phones will get their power from the Sun, clean themselves, use integrated sensors to find out about the world around them and bend into new and interesting shapes. Bet they still cut out halfway through important calls, though.
4. T3 01
After years of reviewing less than perfect mobiles, the gadget fiends at T3 decided it was time for action - so they asked their readers what they wanted from a mobile and teamed up with design gurus The Alloy to come up with a concept.
Now in its second incarnation, the 01 takes the best ideas from across the mobile market and sticks them into a single, rather sleek device. Build it! Build it now!
5. Samsung folding OLED phone
Samsung showed off this concept design at Japan's FPD International 2008 technology conference.
While it's a good few years from production the prototype proves that bendy mobiles are definitely on the horizon.
Imagine an iPhone that folds in half and you get the idea - much better than the grainy YouTube grab you see on the left.
In a presentation given at Nokia's Capital Markets Day 2008 last week the company quietly displayed a previously unseen handset, complete with an edge-to-edge touchscreen and subtle, attractive stylings. Perhaps even more interesting is that the screen is sporting an all-new heretofore unseen S60 touchscreen interface, giving hope to folks let down by S60 5th Edition's minor changes to the formula. Unfortunately, Nokia hasn't made any other reference to this phone or the revised OS, and could have very well trotted them out as a proof of concept of the company's direction -- particularly likely due to the fact that they were trying hard to butter up investors at the meeting. Still, the "Tube" started off as little more than a presentation (complete with hints at interface improvements that have yet to emerge), and look how that ended up.
This mystery phone has appeared on the internet with absolutely no info about it available. We don't know what it is, but we do know that's it's ugly as sin.
The accepted educated guess about this thing is that it's the upcoming Palm Roteo, based on the keyboard looking like the keyboard on the Centro and the fact that the screen, you know, rotates. It's got smudges on the screen indicating a touchscreen, and there's a camera on the front that might mean videoconferencing support. As for that comically tiny trackpad, I don't know what the deal is with that. And it looks big and awkward. No, no thank you. [Treo Central via Boy Genius Report]
Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs)— high-quality, energy-efficient displays — are already used in some flat screen TVs. But they’re about to become common in everything from electronic paper to adaptive clothing thanks to researchers at the VTT Technical Centre in Finland.
The ROLLED project has found a way to print OLEDs on flexible protective films. The films use a technique called roll-to-roll processing that allows OLEDs to be printed in a fast, cost-effective manner.
In comparison, current OLEDs are produced in a glass substrate.
Since the devices require minimal energy, they can be powered by solar cells, small watch batteries, and even radio waves.
Once the ROLLED research makes OLEDS affordable, they may be embedded in clothing, used in “smart” product packaging, used as paper billboard replacements, and more.Original here
With smoldering wreckage still being collected from the crash site, the Navy said it is too early to determine the cause of the crash. According to Marine Corps spokesperson Corporal Francis Goch, the plane, an F/A-18D Hornet, was returning from training when the pilot radioed air traffic control about a problem, ejecting shortly thereafter.
"He radioed into air traffic control, he said he didn't know what the problem was," said Goch. "Right now they do not have enough information to determine a reason for the crash. They could still pull a piece of the wreckage out and say 'oh, it was this.'"
Many news reports, including the Associated Press story, focused on an aviation inspection bulletin issued by the Navy on October 23rd. The bulletin noted that some older-generation Hornets had stress fractures on the flaps on the front end of the wings. The bulletin led to 10 planes being grounded, and another 20 restricted to limited flight time, out of the 1,047 old-generation F-18s in the Navy fleet.
However, John Pike, Director of GlobalSecurity.org, believes that blaming the crash on a stress fracture of the sort highlighted in the inspection bulletin is premature and misleading. He compared it to the crash of the Concord in 2000, saying that a similar stress fracture warning had been issued about that plane, leading experts to blame the fractures for the crash, and not the metal debris that actually caused the problems.
"The plane has the routine aches and pains that come with combat aircraft," said Pike. "Unusual problems? No, this plane has normal problems."
Pike went on to say that given the amount of wear and tear on these planes, a couple of crashes a year would be expected. In fact, according to data provided by the Navy, including yesterday's crash, there were only four incidents in 2008 resulting in loss of a plane, loss of life, or over a million dollars in damages, below the yearly average of six for F/A-18s. But Pike stressed that the failure rate of the F/A-18 is no greater than the crash rate of other similar fighter planes.
The F/A-18D is a two-seat plane first produced for the Navy and Marine Corps in 1987. The planes are manufactured by Boeing Integrated Defense Systems and cost around $57 million apiece. F/18s models A through D are known as "legacy" models, as the Navy began replacing many of them with new F/A-18 E and F models in 1999.
"They're the workhorses of the fleet," said Navy spokesman Lieutenant Clayton Doss. Doss went on to add that legacy Hornets have flown for almost 6 million hours since entering service in 1980, with only 181 crashes. But the fleet is aging, and over half of the legacy F/A-18s have flown more than the 6,000 hours projected as their total use-life.
This is the first F/A-18 crash at Camp Kearny since 2006, when a plane went down on the east side of the base. In that crash, the pilot ejected safely and the plane crashed harmlessly into the desert below.
"Losing a couple of F-18s a year is normal," said Pike, "It's clearly the family that's the newsworthy component of it, unfortunately."
Since the introduction of Windows Vista, Dell has been offering a downgrade option to Windows XP for its customers. The deadline for the downgrade option has been extended twice, and at this point costs more than a brand new copy of OS X Leopard.
Tgdaily points out that the Windows XP downgrade option is listed on Dell’s website with the Inspiron 1525 notebook and 530 desktops with a $150 price-tag. Dell however, did not hike up the downgrade option pricing on its Vostro desktops and notebooks. The price for the XP downgrade on those was raised in October and remains at $99.
Analysts are unable to determine whether this shows a declining or increasing demand for the operating system. Some believe that netbook demand (sub-$500, Linux based notebook) has taken the load off of downgraded PC options with Windows XP. According to Devil Mountain Software, a market research firm that collects “real-world” metrics from Windows computers, nearly one third (35%) of PC users that purchased a PC between February and August 2008, downgraded to Windows XP from Windows Vista.
Perhaps most interesting is that Apple sells brand new versions of Mac OS X Leopard for $129
Microsoft is promising a lot with Windows 7, and the industry is waiting anxiously for anything to move it along after Vista. They are keeping strong with the focus of being fully compatible with as many existing device drivers, applications, and hardware configurations as possible. Unfortunately, early developer builds and statements from Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer himself lead us to believe Windows 7 may just be more of the same.
As Apple remains focused on delivering an increasingly refined version of OS X with Snow Leopard, healthy competition between the two operating systems has been rather difficult given Vista’s failures. For the sake of the industry, let’s hope Microsoft delivers something heavy with Windows 7.
After discovering the hidden MPTVOutWindow class in the iPhone SDK last month, ArsTechnica's Erica Sadun got in touch with Freeverse, makers of Moto Chaser, and encouraged them to experiment with the APIs. A few hours later, the TV version of the iPhone game was born (video below).
Though largely demonstrative, the game uses the iPhone's accelerometer for input and steering while routing the game's video through a video-out cable to the TV. Freeverse noted that the program ran best on the second-generation iPod touch, which includes a 532MHz processor compared to the iPhone and iPhone 3G's 412MHz chip.
Even so, Moto Chaser maxed out at around 20 frames per second, making it "nearly playable," according Freeverse, whose producer Bruce Morrison noted that the "norm for commercial games is 30fps, a point at which motion becomes as smooth and watchable as normal TV video." Sound quality, however, was said to be greatly improved when pumped through a respectable sound system.
"When Morrison approached senior programmer Mark Levin, he had basically one set of instructions. 'Make it work before lunch.'," Ars reported. "Freeverse had very little time to allocate to putting together the demo. In the end, the entire development effort took about three hours."
Obviously one could imagine the possibilities of faster iPhones paired wirelessly with Apple TV to serve as a video game controller. In the meantime, you can read more about Apple's plan to muscle advanced gaming graphics into iPhones.
While he said Apple [AAPL] had some "interesting ideas" about netbooks, Steve Jobs squashed thinking that his company would be entering the netbook market when he spoke at Apple's last quarterly earnings call, saying there are "not a lot of them getting sold". But the Internet never runs quiet, and speculation is increasing that a netbook-like Apple product may be on the way as soon as early next year.
And the rumored product may have an ARM processor purring under its covers rather than a chip from Apple's current CPU supplier Intel. ARM chips already power the iPhone, come in at a low unit price, and are significantly more power-efficient than Intel's low-power netbook Atom CPUs. Add in the recent acquistion of PA Semi--already chip manufacturers, and Apple's hiring of Mark Papermaster--IBM's developer of the PowerPC chips formerly used in Apple machines--and you've got a rich soup of data ready for the rumors.
Jobs' careful stepping around the netbook issue is easy to understand: Apple's MacBook laptop range is increasingly successful, even if it carries the famous "Apple tax" expense. The iPhone is a unique device in the smartphone market, essentially acting as a very limited pocket PC. And a mid-range and, above all, cheap netbook would run the risk of cannibalizing sales of either machine. Perhaps that's why during his version of this rumor Seth Weintraub at ComputerWorld is speculating the device will be a tablet machine, versus the mini-notebook styling of netbooks like Asus' Eee PC. Apple will have to power-up its innovative thinking design machine if it is to make this product a success, while keeping both the iPhone and MacBooks in the game--and an all-touchscreen mini-tablet computer certainly fits into this thinking.