July 18, 2008
info, News, Stuff, Technology
Blind people generally use computers with the help of screen-reader software, but those products can cost more than US$1,000, so they’re not exactly common on public PCs at libraries or Internet cafes. Now a free new Web-based program for the blind aims to improve the situation.
It’s called ”WebAnywhere,” and it was developed by a computer science graduate student at the University of Washington. Unlike software that has to be installed on PCs, WebAnywhere is an Internet application that can make Web surfing accessible to the blind on most any computer.
The developer , Jeffrey Bigham, hopes it lets blind people check a flight time on a public computer at the airport, plan a bus route at the library or type up a quick e-mail at an Internet cafe.
To get WebAnywhere running, a blind person has to manage to get online, which can be complicated on a computer not already set up to give verbal feedback. However, Bigham’s research found that Web-savvy blind people often know plenty of keyboard tricks and when to ask for help.
Once online, a blind Web surfer can use the WebAnywhere browser, which can link to and then read out loud any page — as long as the computer has speakers or a headphone jack. The program can skip around the section titles, tab through charts or read the page from top to bottom.
WebAnywhere could benefit from some tweaking but it’s a big improvement over a total lack of public access, says Lindsay Yazzolino, a blind Brown University student who has a summer job at the University of Washington.
Yazzolino, 19, would like to see a better search function and fewer keystrokes required for navigation around Web pages, but she loves the fact that the program is free.
Bigham says he hopes others will make improvements to his program, which is open source to invite tinkering. He doesn’t have a personal connection to the issue of computer accessibility — except through his fellow students who are blind — but recognizes the area as wide open for programmers.
His faculty adviser, professor Richard Ladner, hopes a commercial search engine will adopt WebAnywhere as a module. Ladner’s next dream is for Web developers to keep blind people in mind when they design their pages — a change that could make information easier
July 13, 2008
News, Stuff, Technology
While most iPhone users are stuck with an iBrickthis morning as Apple’ servers can’t complete the last step of the upgrade process, those of us smart enough to take the unofficial upgrade route 24 hours ago are happily trying out new App Store Apps. This morning I turned my iPhone into a VoIP phone by installing the new Truphone iPhone app ( Truphone company profile).
One of the iPhone 2.0 restrictions that is unfortunate is the fact that VoIP applications aren’t allowed to use the cell/data connection – all that 3G bandwidth could be put to great use. But VoIP apps are allowed on the phone and can use Wifi when it’s available.
While at first it seems that the fact these apps can’t tap into the 3G stream is a real problem, in fact even the allowed activity, VoIP over Wifi, is extremely useful. For example – AT&T mobile coverage at my house/office is very bad, so I rarely use my iPhone for calls there. Instead I just pick up my landline (which is a Vonage VoIP phone). With VoIP over Wifi I can still use my mobile phone to make calls.
I installed the Truphone app this morning and registered online. Calls to any landline anywhere in the world are just 6 cents per minute, and you get a $4 credit to start when you first download the app. Truphone accesses your contact list to allow for one click calls in the same way as normal calls. The differences you’ll notice v. normal cell calls: you must have a Wifi connection to make calls, you can’t receive calls, if a normal voice call comes in your Truphone call is immediately terminated (this really sucks), you can’t use the speakerphone and your “favorite” numbers aren’t imported.
In fact the sound is Excellent
July 5, 2008
Internet, News, Stuff, Technology
Microsoft is ready to put its popular Microsoft Office suite online, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Called Microsoft Equipt, the suite will join the software giant’s online offerings of Windows Live Mail, Messenger, OneCare and Photo Gallery.Previously code-named Albany, the consumer-oriented Equipt will be available for purchase on July 15 through Circuit City’s 700 outlets nationwide. Each $69.99 one-year subscription will cover up to three home PCs, Microsoft said.
“Certainly the initial move is to capture more consumer eyeballs,” noted AMR Research analyst Jim Murphy. “Though it’s unclear at this point what the next version of Office will look like, it’s likely that it will include a mechanism for Microsoft or its partners to monetize its widespread use — whether that’s through advertising or selling other value-added services.”
Microsoft’s move to make Office a consumer-friendly online service has some long-term implications for the small-business market. Gartner Client Services Vice President Michael Silver thinks we’ll “see more subscription offerings from Microsoft as time goes on” because it would give the software giant a “more reliable” revenue stream.
The software giant’s latest move basically adapts the model of Microsoft Software Assurance for enterprises to the home market, Silver said.
“Larger small businesses already have offerings like this through Microsoft’s open-licensing program, but the pricing and licensing is more commensurate with prices businesses pay,” Silver said. “Small businesses can probably expect something like this suited to them in the future, but may have difficulty buying this version in particular because it does not contain Outlook.”
The terms of the current consumer license will prevent a small business from using Equipt, Silver noted. “Microsoft says that business use of Equipt is prohibited,” he said.
When Microsoft eventually does offer a similar model to small-business users, it could cannibalize the software giant’s existing subscriber base. However, Murphy said that is largely expected under a SaaS (Software as a Service) model.
“It would indeed represent a disruption in the way Microsoft has typically in the past collected revenue from businesses,” Murphy said. “My sense is that Microsoft will offer subscription-based pricing for small businesses, and then medium businesses and large businesses. But they’ll still offer traditional pricing models for the companies that are accustomed and comfortable buying this way.”
Consumer subscribers to Microsoft Equipt will also get the latest upgrades anytime a new version of Office or Windows Live OneCare is released. “Equipt is targeted at consumers and the annual fee allows up to three PCs in a home to use it, just like the regular Office home and student licenses,” Silver said.
Silver noted that new-version rights have always been included for enterprise Software Assurance subscribers.
July 5, 2008
News, Stuff, Technology
Wait. Scroll. Scroll. Tap-tap. Wait. Wait. For many years, that was the typical experience of someone surfing the Web using a mobile phone or PDA, at least in the U.S. Although some content providers offered stripped-down versions of their sites specially designed for mobile users, most did not, and reading a page designed to be viewed on a PC on the small screen was about as much fun as sitting in a dark room reading a newspaper by flashlight.Today, the mobile Web environment is in a period of rapid change, thanks in no small part to Apple’s iPhone. From the phone’s introduction in June, 2007, through March, 2008, 5.4 million iPhones have sold, and to date developers have created more than 17,000 sites or “Web applications” optimized for the device.
But this isn’t a story about the iPhone, per se; it’s a story about designing for the mobile Web. The iPhone was just a catalyst of sorts, bringing buzz, investors, and new technology to the sector. As a result, the mobile Web design and customer experience bar has been raised.
“Mobile Web used to be WAP,” says Matt Murphy, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, the venture capital firm that has started a $100 million “iFund” to develop applications for the iPhone. “Now you have a real browser and a real device. The iPhone is a game-changer.”
“From a design experience perspective, it’s changing the way people view the Web and the value of the mobile Web,” says Kelly Goto, the founder and CEO of San Francisco-based GotoDesign.
Pre-iPhone, says Cameron Moll, principal interaction designer at LDS Church and author of the influential e-book Mobile Web Design, companies typically took one of four approaches to the mobile Web: 1] do nothing and let mobile users scroll their way around sites designed for PC viewing; 2] streamline sites by removing images and styling, making them more manageable for mobile devices; 3] use stylesheets, a tool that allows developers to create different versions of a Web site for different devices; or 4] create an entirely different second site, optimized for mobile users.
June 30, 2008
News, Stuff, Technology
Martian soil appears to contain sufficient nutrients to support life – or, at least, asparagus – Nasa scientists believe.
Preliminary analysis by the $420m (£210m) Phoenix Mars Lander mission on the planet’s soil found it to be much more alkaline than expected.
Scientists working on the spacecraft project said they were “flabbergasted” by the discovery.
The find has raised hopes conditions on Mars may be favourable for life.
“We basically have found what appears to be the requirements, the nutrients, to support life, whether past, present or future,” said Sam Kounaves, the project’s lead chemist, from the University of Arizona.
Although he said further tests would have to be conducted, Mr Kounaves said the soil seemed “very friendly… there is nothing about it that is toxic,” he said.
As well as being far less acidic than anticipated, the soil was also found to contain traces of magnesium, sodium, potassium and other elements.
“We were all flabbergasted at the data we got back,” said Mr Kounaves. “It is very exciting for us.”
The analysis is based on a cubic centimetre of soil scooped from 2.5cm (one inch) below Mars’ surface by the lander’s robotic arm.
The sample was then tested using the “wet chemistry” technique, which involves mixing the soil with water brought from Earth and heating the sample in one of the lander’s eight ovens.
June 29, 2008
Kyocera Wireless Corp., a leading global manufacturer of wireless handsets, devices and embedded machine-to-machine modules, has been honored with M2M Magazine’s prestigious gold Value Chain Award for its role in a first-of-its-kind agricultural application of wireless machine-to-machine (M2M) technology at Dritz Farms in Lincoln County, Minn. Working with a team of technology partners including Leica Geosystems, Aeris Communications, Resolute Information Technology, Digi International and NovAtel Inc., Kyocera Wireless was recognized for enabling an innovative M2M technology solution that improved agricultural processes and productivity. The gold honor marks the fourth consecutive year Kyocera has received a Value Chain Award.
The groundbreaking Dritz Farms application uses wireless communication and GPS technology to improve farming productivity and efficiency, ultimately improving precious crop yields. Using GPS location information powered by Digi International, the Leica mojoRTK auto-steer platform guides field cultivating equipment with accuracy inside of 2 inches. At the same time, Leica’s Virtual Wrench solution uses a Kyocera M2M module and the Aeris CDMA network for real-time communications. Via the Virtual Wrench Web-based portal, designed by Resolute IT, Leica-approved technicians perform remote diagnostics to help farmers fine-tune equipment and fix problems while field work is underway. An antenna from NovAtel Inc. boosts the CDMA signal so the system operates in even the most remote fields. According to Tim Dritz, owner of Dritz Farms, the entire implementation paid for itself in less than a year.
“Small equipment adjustments can have a large effect on crop yield and even a small deviation can have devastating effects,” said Dritz. “With mojoRTK and Virtual Wrench a tractor is able to steer itself, which allows the operator to closely watch and monitor equipment performance. Without the system in place, it is very easy to deviate and steer farming equipment slightly off planted rows.”
“The power of wireless communication extends far beyond the corporate enterprise, and agriculture is yet another example of an industry where this technology can enhance productivity and deliver bottom-line results,” said Dean Fledderjohn, general manager of the M2M product line at Kyocera Wireless Corp. “This Value Chain award highlights Kyocera’s leadership in the M2M marketplace and demonstrates a growing portfolio of innovative Kyocera-enabled solutions that are flexible and easy to integrate with other leading technology providers.”
Value Chain Awards honor the most successful adopters of M2M technology along with the team of solution suppliers and providers that made their success possible. The awards highlight the process of combining multiple technologies – including device-connectivity hardware, radio modules, network services and application software – and showcase how all elements of the M2M value chain work together to create winning solutions for customers.
“We chose Dritz Farms for a Value Chain Award because it implemented a sophisticated M2M solution that demonstrates how the cooperation of multiple technology providers enables creative solutions that increase performance and in this case, crop yield, while containing costs,” said Peggy Smedley, editorial director and publisher of M2M Magazine. “The M2M market is thriving because teams of technology providers are working collaboratively, for the good of all, to combine telemetry and next-generation wireless applications that increase business value as well as drive M2M adoption.”
The M2M solution implemented by Dritz Farms offers the agricultural industry a compelling new tool to stay profitable in today’s challenging economic environment. In an industry well known for tight margins, the costs of inputs such as seed, fertilizer and fuel have skyrocketed in the last several years while commodity sales have remained relatively flat until recently. Today’s farmers are hard pressed to find new ways to maximize crop yield while reducing production costs. The Leica mojoRTK and Virtual Wrench solution, connected to the Aeris CDMA network by Kyocera’s M2M module, gives farmers that competitive advantage.
“The new mojoRTK product platform is built around Leica’s new ‘MObile Job Console’ and Leica Geosystems’ proven dual-frequency RTK technology,” said Darren Herstedt, Virtual Wrench service and support manager for Leica Geosystems. “Combined with our Virtual Wrench remote service and diagnostics system, we can truly provide outstanding field application performance and unparalleled field support.”
For spec sheets and more information on Kyocera modules, developer kits and case studies, please visit www.kyocera-wireless.com/m2m-business. For more information on Leica Geosystems agricultural solutions, please visit www.leica-geosystems.com. For more information about Aeris, please visit www.aeris.net.
June 29, 2008
Internet, News, Technology
One Voice Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB:ONEV) Chairman and CEO Dean Weber, today issued the following corporate update:
“We are pleased to provide our shareholders with the following corporate update:
In the telecom sector our carrier customer in Mexico has indicated their desire to launch MobileVoice services nationally and we are currently defining business models, features and pricing. We are very confident a national launch will happen given several factors including the large revenue opportunities for our customer, the competitive nature of the service offering and as a powerful customer retention tool given number portability beginning July 2008 throughout Mexico. In India, One Voice has installed MobileVoice in our customer’s data center and we are waiting for Internet and telephone lines to be installed and connected to our platform, after which our customer will begin their testing and subsequent launch. We see tremendous opportunities in both Mexico and India with these national carriers.
In the retail sector One Voice just delivered several thousand copies of Media Center Communicator for national distribution in OfficeMax stores throughout the U.S. Next week One Voice will launch beta versions of our new Say2Play and MobileVoice StreetDeck software for download. We look forward to consumer feedback during our beta period to help One Voice continue to deliver quality products and to continue to grow our retail offerings. Visitwww.onev.com/products for product information and beta availability coming next week.
In the embedded sector One Voice is working closely with a large OEM for including voice control on their Mobile Internet Device (MID). Voice control has been stated as the top priority for their MID and One Voice has been selected as their partner.
One Voice is currently securing additional funding to grow our company to meet the demands for our products and technology. Voice control is a rapidly growing sector and One Voice is well positioned to capture market share with powerful products and patented technology.
As always, I appreciate your ongoing support and look forward to a very successful 2008.”
About One Voice Technologies, Inc.
One Voice Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB:ONEV) is the world’s first developer of 4th Generation voice solutions for the Telecom and Interactive Multimedia markets. Our Intelligent Voice solutions employ revolutionary, patented technology that allows people to send messages (E-mail, SMS, Instant Messaging and paging), purchase products, get information and control devices – all by using their voice. The company is headquartered in La Jolla, California. For more information, please visit www.onev.com
June 29, 2008
Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) new hypervisor-based server virtualization software, Hyper-V, is now available for download, and it’s several weeks ahead of “schedule” — though it’s also months late. Microsoft previously wanted to deliver Hyper-V with Windows Server 2008. In any event, Hyper-V is here, and it’s real.
Hyper-V is a feature of some versions of Windows Server 2008, and while it’s available for download now, it will hit Microsoft’s Windows Update on July 8. It will also be available as a standalone solution that will sell for about US$28 later this year.
Virtualization software lets organizations that are running multiple, separate physical servers combine those servers virtually onto a single physical machine. By running several virtual servers on a single hardware system, organizations typically increase energy efficiency, reduce hardware footprints in crowded data centers, and save on administration and maintenance costs.
The current market leader for x86-based virtualization solutions isVMware with its ESX Server and related lineup of solutions.
Microsoft reported that more than 250 customers participated in its early adopter program, including firms such as Land O’Lakes, HotSchedules and The Scooter Store, though more than 1 million downloaded the solution during beta testing.
“By virtualizing everything, we have been able to increase our server utilization by a factor of 10, providing dramatic opportunities in consolidation and power savings,” noted Ray Pawlikowski of HotSchedules, an Austin, Texas-based company that provides online labor scheduling and handles 4 million logins per month.
In terms of competing with VMware and other Xen-based hypervisors on the market, Microsoft is betting that some customers will use it because of its integration with Windows Server 2008.
“It’s been designed as a Windows feature, which our customers know, so those with Windows Server certification will be familiar with it — the people who have all the in-house skills on Windows Server will know how to use it,” noted Bill Hilf, general manager of Windows Server marketing and platform strategy at Microsoft.
That integration, it turns out, may lead to widespread adoption.
June 28, 2008
Internet, News, Stuff, Technology, Videos
Terri Rossman considers herself a visual learner. So when the 52-year-old marketing professional wanted to learn a new knitting stitch, she turned to the Web.
“I searched for ‘knit bobble stitch’ on Google and I found a video of someone doing it,” said Rossman, who lives in the Detroit area. “It was perfect for me.”
The Web has become the place where people go to learn new tricks. Traffic to sites likeeHow.com and WikiHow.com have doubled over the past year, according to figures from ComScore Networks, while start-ups such as Howcast.com and Findhow.com, a search engine to find “how-to” content, are entering the field.
Want to learn how to count cards at a blackjack table? Go to eHow. Interested in dating a flight attendant? Howcast has a video with some advice. Want to create the cat-eye look favored by singer Amy Winehouse? Several videos on YouTube can help.
“I saw with Google and then YouTube that people are really searching for this stuff,” said Jason Liebman, cofounder and chief executive of Howcast, which has been in development for a year and recently opened for visitors. “But no one was showing you to flirt with a girl or swaddle a baby.”
Liebman, who worked at Google Video and then YouTube, has raised US$9 million in funding for Howcast. The site produces its own videos and also pays people to create videos. Like other sites of its kind, it plans to generate revenue through.
The variety and quality of how-to content can vary across the Web. Howcast offers only videos, while WikiHow, a site where anyone can contribute, largely offers text-based guides. At eHow, which encourages community through its social networking tools, the content is a mix of professionally produced material and user-created items.