16 Nov 2011

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Google has now officially opened up their music (buying) service for business.  Since last May it had been in beta and allowed users to upload (and stream) up to 20,000 tracks at any bitrate (MP3, AAC, WMA, FLAC), there was no ability to purchase, until now.  Google music will emphasize "discovering, purchasing, sharing and enjoying digital music in new, innovative and personalized ways", writes Andy Rubin, Senior Vice President of Mobile at Google.  Google music will sync to the cloud both purchased and uploaded music from your entire library and across all types of devices, while maintaining playlists.

They have added a new music store in Android Market, fully integrated with Google Music.  Google Music will ultimately offer 13 million tracks from the major record labels (8 million today):  Universal, Sony, EMI, and global independent rights agency Merlin, as well as others like 1,000 prominent independent labels. They will offer an "Artist Hub" where the artist without a record label can distribute and sell their own music.  There will be an interface for building the hub interface.  This feature, the Artist Hub, may become one of the most talked about new features out there.

A rundown of how using Google Music will work and video from Google after the break

15 Nov 2011

As of November 11th, Microsoft has been rolling out its Xbox 360 fall dashboard update to its public program (beta) members, though as of last month registration into the program is closed.  The new dashboard features the Windows Phone 7's Metro style interface with a number of new enhancements.  Microsoft has added cloud storage for profiles and saves, as well as Kinect driven voice recognition and gesture support, particularly for the new Bing Search app that will be part of the dashboard.  They have also added live TV programming and social tools that will let your friends know what you are doing in 360 land.

15 Nov 2011

Australian physicists have created a new artificial material that changes its structure, in response to light and other forms of radiation.

Unlike natural substances, it doesn’t have fixed physical properties. Under one set of circumstances it may be transparent, but then apply an electromagnetic force, it would compress and become less transparent.  They are calling this material, “Magnetoelastic metamaterial” and it will respond to various levels of electromagnetic radiation, such as visible light or microwaves.

The material works by using a series of "split ring resonators" embedded in the material.  Those resonators become attracted to each other compressing the material itself, after exposure to certain electromagnetic waves.

One example they say, is shining light on glass, it will allow most of the light through, then this mater can allow lower power light through, but high power light (brighter light) and the light passing through becomes diminished.  We are bound to see many commercial applications of this technology in the future.

 Source: Abcscience


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15 Nov 2011

Adobe announced eliminating its mobile flash plugin and laying off 750 staff as part of a broader restructure.

The focus is now geared towards HTML5, as globally things are shifting towards more open standards, less proprietary web design that work over all platforms.  With the death of mobile flash, the desktop flash future is in question.  Especially in light of recent Flash vulnerabilities on the desktop in the past 1+ years.  Adobe has cut 750 staff in North America and Europe.  This is a complete reversal by Adobe to shift focus to HTML5 on mobile. 

This ends the long debate over flash and mobile particularly with Apple, since the iPhones release in 2007 without flash ability and then again in 2010 with the iPad.  Steve Jobs once quoted Flash as a “battery hog” that introduced security issues and flaws.  Jobs also convinced Google to get YouTube to make videos with the H.264 format without a Flash interface.


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15 Nov 2011

The Higgs boson is a particle which has been theorized, but yet to be observed in the   lab.  This particle is thought to give all other particles their mass and is often referred to as the "God Particle".  Scientists have been searching for it via the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) in Switzerland since 2008.  Future attempts to observe the particle using the LHC have will have to wait until 2012, as they have wrapped up their work for 2011 in relation to Higgs.

15 Nov 2011

Google's new "Google Location Server" is to map out locations of wireless networks as part of their data collection. 

The trick to not showing up in their service is to add the "_nomap" to the end of your wireless network name (SSID).  So, as an example, if you are one of the many Netgear users who have the name as the default, "netgear" you would need to use the admin interface on your router or access point and rename it to "netgear_nomap" (without the quotes).  Now your access point will not show up in Google's Wi-Fi network mapping.

This task of renaming an access point may not be a big deal for the experienced user, but for the common user, who often doesn't even have security set on their access point, may prove a challenge.

15 Nov 2011

Microsoft is stating that Windows 8 will have fewer annoying restarts after windows updates occur via their new update feature.  It will consolidate all restarts for the month to coordinate with the usual Patch Tuesday, meaning any updates that need a restart will simply wait until the second Tuesday of the the month, prompting you to restart once a month, with the exception of critical updates.

They will have an update notification system letting you know of any upcoming restarts, visible via a Windows 8 log-in screen and remain there for 3 days, instead of nagging you like the default ones currently do.  After the three day period, it will display a reminder but only if the PC is locked or there are no running applications/open files or if you are in the middle of a game or similar activity, these notifications will be hidden and less intrusive.

So for those of us hoping they would re-tool the under-workings of how locked files and processes are handled by Windows 8, making restarts obsolete, we will have to wait a bit longer (yet again).  However, these changes in Windows 8 should make the process less of a burden, though Windows 7 users already know of the hacks available to make things less intrusive with the existing operating system.

Source: Microsoft


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15 Nov 2011

While Apple has their iPads at anywhere from $499 to $699, Kindle Fire is set to be $199.  Not to mention there is also the $249 Nook tablet.  Apple is unlikely to drop their prices for some time, given past history which such things as the MacBook Air, which began at $1800 to $3000 and stayed there for several years.  If you are just want the web, videos, books and apps, then the Fire will likely do all this, which I think the majority of users do.

Cnet has their own review on the Kindle Fire here.  From a tech perspective it has a 7” screen.  It integrates with Amazon's lineup of music, video, magazine and book services.  It has a web browser and an Android app store with big titles like Netflix, Pandora and Hulu.  The "bad" on the device is there is no 3G, camera, microphone, gps etc.  Only 8GB of storage with no expansion slot, no Bluetooth and minimal parental controls.  App selection as of now is not as good as Google's.  You need an Amazon Prime subscription for full advantage on unique features.

But even though it lacks some of the things found in pricier Apple and Android devices at $199 it still packs a lot of value for $199, now that they are going to be making their way to consumers, time will tell how well they truely stack up to the competion such as the Nook or even an iPad.
How does the Kindle Fire compare to the Nook on paper?

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