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Submission + - Why the New iPhone Sucks

Ponca City, We love you writes: "Retrevo writes on Bspcn.Com about the deficiencies in the original iPhone that the new iPhone still doesn't address: at over $1,000 a year, the new iPhone is still too expensive to own; you can't use the GPS like a GPS with real-time route guidance; you can't tether the iPhone to your laptop so you can add the cost of a 3G card for your laptop at $720 a year to your total cost of ownership.; still no cut and paste if you want to capture some text or a URL; a wimpy 2 MP camera in a world of 5 MP Smartphones; no stereo Bluetooth; still no Flash player for rich media content; can't send pictures in MMS messages; still no native voice dialing; no mobile TV; no replaceable battery; and no flash memory card. "Okay, now that I got that off my chest, I feel better and what the heck, so it's not perfect but it's still the coolest smartphone out there and I still want one," adds Retrevo."

Submission + - OOXML: Brazil Says NO. Again. (alkalay.net)

An anonymous reader writes: It is now official. Brazilian vote was decided by consensus of the entire technical team, including Microsoft crew's: OOXML does not deserve to be an international ISO standard. Our first vote, in august, was also NO, due to the same reasons: OOXML is an awful specification. That outcome was expected because we simply followed the process: technically analyze the OOXML specification, make comments, wait for responses, analyze them and see if all problems were fixed. Is there any single remaining unresolved problem? Vote NO. And in fact there were many many unresolved problems. If every country followed this simple process, OOXML would receive a NO from 100% of them.

Submission + - Ray tracing for gaming explored (pcper.com) 3

Vigile writes: "Ray tracing is still thought of as the 'holy grail' for real-time imagery but because of the intense amount of calculations required it has been plagued with long frame render times. This might soon change, at least according to an article from Daniel Pohl, a researcher at Intel. With upcoming many-core processors like Intel's Larrabee he believes that real-time ray tracing for games is much closer than originally thought thanks in large part to the efficiency it allows with spatial partitioning and reflections when compared to current rasterization techniques. Titles like Valve's Portal are analyzed to see how they could benefit from ray tracing technology and the article on PC Perspective concludes with the difficulties combing the two rendering techniques as well as a video of the technology in action."

Submission + - Is the HD DVD Format Dead?

Reservoir Hill writes: "Warner Brothers announced that it will release high-definition DVDs exclusively in Sony's Blu-ray format, dealing a big blow to Toshiba's rival HD DVD technology. Warner Brothers is Hollywood's biggest seller of DVDs, representing about 18 to 20 percent of sales in the United States and was one of the few studios backing both formats. "A two-format landscape has led to consumer confusion and indifference toward high definition, which has kept the technology from reaching mass adoption and becoming the important revenue stream that it can be for the industry," said Kevin Tsujihara, President of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. Saul Hansell at the NY Times says he wouldn't spend money on an HD DVD player until this all sorts out and expects many consumers to return their Christmas HD DVD players and exchange them for Blu-ray devices."

Submission + - XO Laptops Perform Quantum Key Distribution (lwn.net)

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes: "At the National University of Singapore, two XO Laptops were hooked together to do some entanglement based quantum key distribution over a free space channel. It took some tinkering, and they had to write some custom software for the XO, but it worked. The only bad news is that you can't really do this at home without a rather complex, USB-accessible device to do the entangling — you can't do many quantum operations in software just yet."

Submission + - Book Review: Windows Vista Annoyances (amazon.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Author: David A. Karp
Format: Paperback, 641 pages
Publisher: O'Reilly Media, Inc. (January 4, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0596527624
ISBN-13: 978-0596527624

Review by James Pyles
December 27, 2007

To read all the buzz on the Internet, there are a lot of people who are annoyed with Windows Vista just now. My son is a Marine serving in Iraq and the last day he was home, we bought him a laptop with Windows Vista installed so he could have a means of communication once he was deployed. Since then, he's been calling periodically asking what he can do to "fix" it. His latest outcry was to ask for a copy of Windows XP so he could "repair" his problems. I thought about that this morning as I picked up my review copy of Karp's book and wondered if the answer to these sorts of problems, (and my son isn't the only one complaining) could be found between the covers of Windows Vista Annoyances. Let's find out.

The back cover's summary seems to indicate that the book is designed more to "enhance" the Vista experience than to actually fix any of its (perceived) flaws. Still, I proceeded hopefully. I think the problem might be Redmond's attempt at making an operating system that "solves" all of the usability problems the average end user has complained about over the years. I suspect that the effort has gone horribly wrong, but then I use Ubuntu as my home desktop and Windows XP Pro at work and I'm used to and like both of them.

The "annoying" side of Vista (at least from the writer's and probably Microsoft's point of view) might be just that too much about the interface has changed and people can't leverage their Windows XP (or horrors, Windows 98) skill sets to get around the UI and do what they want to do. Also, with millions of lines of code, despite Redmond's best efforts, I don't doubt that bugs exist in the first edition and have continued to persist after the first service pack (see Chapter 6, the "Green Ribbon of Death"...just when you thought that blue screens were bad enough).

The entire purpose of this book isn't to declare Windows Vista a ghastly failure, but to offer solutions to the many difficulties that users seem to experience when trying to use Vista. I tried to shake the sense of impending doom and take at least a neutral if not optimistic stance about this review and Vista, but the first sentence of the first chapter seemed to seal my fate: "Windows Vista is like a papaya: sleek on the outside, but a big mess on the inside." Oh well, there goes the neighborhood.

The author goes on to say (in so many words) that the book exists because Vista is the current operating system being offered by the world's largest software company and like it or not, we'll all (or almost all) end up using it (once Microsoft pulls support for XP as it has for previous versions of Windows). Karp isn't a total naysayer, though and does outline the pluses of Vista as well as the minuses.

Chapter 1 goes into how to perform a clean install of Vista as well as creating a dual-boot system. That's probably helpful for some of us but the vast majority of people who find Vista annoying are people who either bought their PCs with Vista "pre-installed" or people using Vista in a work environment (for or against their will). Time to move on to actually using the thing.

True to the book's subtitle "Tips, Secrets, and Solutions", this book is a collection of tasks designed to try and correct the pain-in-the-neck operations of an out-of-the-box Vista. I tried to temper my view of Vista as I was reading by making sure that O'Reilly actually has an "annoyances" series of books and that the title wasn't unique to Windows Vista. I did indeed find a series of "annoyances" published by O'Reilly including books addressing Windows XP, Access, PowerPoint, Excel, Word, and so on. I began to feel like another victim of the "negative hype" focused on Vista. On the other hand, I remember that all the "negative buzz" about Windows XP died down after the first service pack was released. That hasn't happened with Vista.

The good news is that David Karp does list a wide variety of Vista annoyances and their solutions and workarounds so that you, as the owner or user of Windows Vista, can tweak your system and try to get it to go more effectively. While the book is reasonably technical, I can only hope that a companion book called "Windows Vista Annoyances for Geeks" will soon be available for IT administrators and technicians that will need to support these systems in the work environment where end users won't be willing or able to touch the system configurations (there is such a book for Windows XP).

The bad news is that there just seems to be so many "annoyances" associated with Vista, that those people who have elected to use it and the many more who will eventually be compelled to use it will have their work cut out for them to make Windows Vista more usable. How ironic that the Microsoft operating system that was designed to make computing easier and more usable has had the opposite effect. If Windows Vista is in your present or future, I'd suggest getting Karp's book along with David Pogue's Windows Vista: The Missing Manual to augment your Vista experience and hopefully develop it into something positive. I think I'll mail my son these books and if need be, a copy of Windows XP should Karp and Pogue fail to solve my son's "annoyances".


Submission + - Microsoft deprecating some OOXML functionality (fanaticattack.com)

christian.einfeldt writes: "According to open standards advocate Russell Ossendryver, Microsoft will be deprecating certain functionality in its Microsoft Office Open XML specification. Ossendryver says the move is an attempt to quiet critics of the specification in the run up to the crucial February vote as to whether Microsoft OOXML will be included as a second standard for e-documents, along with the existing ODF ISO standard. ECMA, the Microsoft-led industry standards group formally offering OOXML to ISO, confirms in a 21 December 2007 announcement that issues related to the "leap year bug", VML, compatibility settings such as "AutoSpaceLikeWord95" and others will be "extracted from the main specification and relocated to an independent annex in DIS 29500 for deprecated functionality." Ossendryver is not convinced that deprecation will work, calling the deprecation proposal a 'smoke screen' and a 'bomb disguised as a standard' because 'every application will need to support the deprecated features in order to read files with the deprecated features.' Ossendryver also points out that legacy formatted Microsoft Office documents will still remain non-standard under the new proposal for deprecation."

Submission + - Technology in 2008 (economist.com)

mrcgran writes: "The Economist has an article with technology predictions for 2008: " 1. Surfing will slow: The internet is not about to grind to a halt, but as more and more users clamber aboard to download music, video clips and games, ... surfing the web is going to be more like travelling the highways at holiday time. You'll get there, eventually, but the going won't be great. 2. Surfing will detach: Internet will doubtless be as popular among mobile-internet surfers as among their sedentary cousins. 3. Surfing — and everything else computer-related — will open: Rejoice: the embrace of "openness" by firms that have grown fat on closed, proprietary technology is something we'll see more of in 2008. The trend toward openness has been given added impetus by the recent collapse of the legal battles brought by SCO. The verdict removed, once and for all, the burden that had been inhibiting Linux's broader acceptance. Since the verdict against SCO, Linux has swiftly become popular in small businesses and the home, largely the doing of Ubuntu 7.10. And because it is free, Linux become the operating system of choice for low-end PCs. Neither Microsoft nor Apple can compete at the new price points being plumbed by companies looking to cut costs.""

Submission + - Serious Data Corruption Bug in Windows Home Server

FREE Windows Upgrade writes: "Users are reporting a bug in Windows Home Server that can result in data corruption when you edit files that are shared with certain programs. According to Paul Thurrott, the Microsoft KB entry indicates that the bug is probably due to improper handling of NTFS alternate data streams in shared folders, because all the programs reported as affected use those streams. Microsoft has not provided a fix or workaround at this time."
The Internet

Submission + - Only 2 in 500 College Students Believe in IP (nytimes.com) 1

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes: "David Pogue of the New York Times has an interesting story about how fewer and fewer people believe that infringement is wrong. He mentions talks he gave back in 2005 where people were willing to believe that making backups of DVDs you own is wrong. Today, however, at his talks, he was only able to get two people out of a crowd of five hundred college students to say that downloading a movie or album is wrong. He goes on, like many before him, to bemoan the immorality of young people today, saying: "I do know, though, that the TV, movie and record companies' problems have only just begun. Right now, the customers who can't even *see* why file sharing might be wrong are still young. But 10, 20, 30 years from now, that crowd will be *everybody*. What will happen then?""

Submission + - OLPC a hit in remote Peruvian village (chicagotribune.com)

mrcgran writes: "Chicago Tribune is running a story about the effects of OLPC on a remote village in Peru: "Doubts about whether poor, rural children really can benefit from quirky little computers evaporate as quickly as the morning dew in this hilltop Andean village, where 50 primary school children got machines from the One Laptop Per Child project six months ago. At breakfast, they're already powering up the combination library/videocam/audio recorder/music maker/drawing kits. At night, they're dozing off in front of them — if they've managed to keep older siblings from waylaying the coveted machines. Peru made the single biggest order to date — more than 272,000 machines — in its quest to turn around a primary education system that the World Economic Forum recently ranked last among 131 countries surveyed." A detailed log has been kept and a youtube video is also available."

Submission + - As Go Document Formats, So Goes Video (consortiuminfo.org)

Andy Updegrove writes: "For a few years now we've been reading about the urgency of adopting open document formats to preserve written records. Now, a 74 page report from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences warns that digital films are as vulnerable to loss as digitized documents, but vastly more expensive to preserve — as much as $208,569 per year. The reasons are the same for video as for documents: magnetic media degrade quickly, and formats continue to be created and abandoned. If this sounds familiar and worrisome, it should. We are rushing pell mell into a future where we only focus on the exciting benefits of new technologies without considering the qualities of older technologies that are equally important — such as ease of preservation — that may be lost or fatally compromised when we migrate to a new whiz-bang technology."

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