October, 2019

Saturday .NET links in action

There's nothing like a batch of programming links to help push down that third sausage gravy biscuit. HangZhou Night Net

Mike Zintel's blog has some really awesome screenshots of .NET code running on the Xbox 360. I hope that this whole .NET/Xbox attempt comes to fruition. In case you didn't hear, Microsoft is bringing C# programming to the Mac with WPF/E, which stands for Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere. On Tuesday, the company announced that it would be shipping the first version of WPF/E at the beginning of next year, and it would be shipping the device version in the latter half of 2007.Embedded.com has an overview of the B# language. B# is "a tiny, object-oriented, and multi-threaded programming language that is specially dedicated for small footprint embedded systems." It supports delegates, namespaces, abstract and concrete classes, and interfaces. On the embedded side of things, it supports boxing/unboxing conversions, multi-threading statements, field properties, device addressing registers, interrupt handlers, and deterministic memory defragmenter.At MIX06, the Internet Explorer team showed that IE 7 could indeed display standards-based designs. Using the CSSZenGarden site as a demo, the browser flawlessly displayed the website. Besides the demo, it was also announced that IE 7's layout is complete.Microsoft has released MSBee Beta 2. MSBee allows developers to write code in Visual Studio 2005 but still target the .NET 1.1 Framework.If you are looking for something similar to LINQ, check out Karmencita. It's a subset of the object query language and allows for querying structured data that resides in memory.If you are a developer, you know there are times when you get that huge feeling of relief because something you did actually works. Pingmag has tried to identify eight possible good feelings , at least in the case of web design. When you're writing code, what makes you let out a big sigh of relief?

Skratch Saturday: Denon’s new flagship digi-deck

It's still Saturday somewhere right? LOL. New digi-DJ gear this week. The DN-S3500, apparently the new flagship deck from Denon, is a tabletop CD player that also plays MP3 tracks. HangZhou Night Net

The player borrows it's spinning active platter design (translation: it actually moves just like a vinyl turntable) from it's older brother, the DN-S5000 and is equipped with a 12-pole Direct Drive motor. To put it into perspective, the S3500 can start up within 0.5 seconds with a 2.5 kg/cm of start-up torque, where as the industry-standard Technics SL-1200 MK2 vinyl turntable can start within 0.7 seconds with a 1.5 kg/cm torque. Not that much of a noticeable difference, which is a good thing, but a definite improvement from the DN-S5000's almost too powerful 0.2 start-up time.

The button, switch and fader layouts for many new CD tabletops can be a bit overwhelming for someone new to the digi-deck scene, but Denon does a good job of keeping things tidy and well organized. The usual suspects, such as the pitch fader, a reverse switch, and cue and play buttons are present along with flanger, filter, echo and echo/loop effects. The DN-S3500 also has a built-in sampler that can extend tracks indefinitely and is compatible with other cue points saved from other branded CD decks.

Looks pretty solid. For a flagship model, I don't see anything else that I'd want from a tabletop deck. I haven't seen it in the wild just yet, but T3 in the UK has it retailing for £700 (around US$1,200).

Take a sneak peek at Google’s new interface

A new search results interface is in the works at Google. Originally the domain of rumor sites, it’s now possible for almost anyone to get a glimpse of the new look. The existence of a simple trick that enables the interface for nearly any browser makes it all possible. HangZhou Night Net

The steps are as follows. First, navigate to google.com (or whatever Google search server you use, e.g., google.co.uk). Second, paste this string into your address bar, and hit enter (and ignore whatever message it spits back at you):

javascript:alert(document.cookie="PREF=ID=fb7740f107311e46:TM=1142683332:
LM=1142683332:S=fNSw6ljXTzvL3dWu;path=/;domain=.google.com")

Note: the string must be a continuous, single-line entry. Additionally, the portion "domain=.google.com" should be modified to whatever Google search server you are using (e.g., google.co.uk; we have verified that this works with the UK and US servers… it may work with others). Third, search away. You should now see the interface.

The tweaked layout.

And there you have it. As you can see, the changes are minimal, but they give some insight into Google’s plans. The biggest change is the relocation of Google’s search categories. Originally on top of the page in a horizontal layout, Google has now placed them on the left alongside visual representations of the search query’s relevance in these other categories.

Google’s intentions aren’t clear, but in the last day of using this interface, I’ve noticed myself repeatedly looking directly at the leftmost column. It’s where the results used to be, and perhaps more importantly, it’s a natural place to start scanning the page for left-to-right language types. Since the relocation surely serves a purpose, I’ll take a stab at what that purpose is.

First, the position is privileged for the reasons outlined above. Furthermore, by displaying a visual representation of your query’s success in these categories, Google is enticing users to explore. In short, the move is meant to draw more attention to Google’s niche search areas.

Two other side-effects can be noted. First, the relocation allows for the actual search results to start higher up on the page. This is good because it means that users can expect to see more per "window." It’s also "good" because this means that Google’s text ads can start higher on the page as well. Second, by displaying the categories in a column, Google has plenty of vertical space to play with when it comes to adding additional categories. Its previous placement was limited by horizontal space, and was pushing the page down. With this layout, Google has room to grow.

In all, the changes aren’t dramatic. Will they ever see the light of day?

Yet another missing link found

The popular press is abuzz with reports of a missing link in the evolution of modern humans. The find, coming out of the ethiopian region made famous for the discovery of australopithecus afarensis, dates to a critical time in human evolution: the period when modern humans developed from their more primitive precursor, Homo erectucs. The find appears to date from 500,000 to 250,000 years ago, while modern humans appear to have existed by around 200,000 years ago, so it may capture a critical period in this transition. DNA evidence suggests that the transition to modern humans took place in Africa but until now, all fossils dating from this era come from elsewhere. HangZhou Night Net

Unfortunately, at this point, details are extremely scarce. Most stories appear to be derived from the initial press release, and a full scientific report is currently unavailable. The details that this find can provide will be somewhat limited, since the bones are all from the cranium. Some indication of brain capacity, however, should be easy to obtain. The release simply states that the skull appears "intermediate", but gives no indication of how or why. As a big plus, there appear to be tools associated with the find, which may help scientists to evaluate the social sophistication of the population this individual belonged to.

Overall, given the lack of detail about the sample itself, it's hard to get too excited by this announcement. Given time for a thorough analysis, however, it has great potential for clarifying one of the major transitions during the evolution of modern humans. Hopefully, it also represents what is often the case at these sites: the first of many finds from a specific era.

Reading the patent tea leaves: PSP keyboard and cell phone attachments

A pair of newly uncovered patents have some people wondering what is next for Sony’s popular handheld console, the PSP. Filed in November 2004, and approved in the last month, the patents are both for PSP add-ons: one is a keyboard attachment and the other is for a cell phone. We originally saw the keyboard attachment back in 2004 at E3, when Sony lifted the curtain on the PSP for the first time in North America, but it hasn’t made an appearance since.HangZhou Night Net

Beginning with its launch in 2005, the PSP has gradually added on new functionality. Of particular interest given the two patents is the 2.0 firmware, which gave PSP owners a built-in web browser to go with support for MPEG-4 AAC and WAV files long with WPA-PSK wireless security. Browsing the web on the PSP, while cool, can be an arduous process given the lack of an easy-to-use text entry system.

The cell phone (top) and keyboard (bottom)

The add-on keyboard would go a long way towards solving the problem, and if paired with a decent e-mail client, could make the PSP a respectable portable web device.

When looking at the cell phone attachment patent, the first thing I thought of was Nokia’s ill-fated NGage. The cell phone/gaming console combination never caught on, due in no small part to some unfortunate design considerations on the part of Nokia. Obviously, the PSP is a different device altogether, as its primary purpose is gaming; the phone would be a secondary use.

At this point in time, the keyboard seems to be a logical add-on for the PSP. It would easily extend the handheld’s functionality, making it easier to take advantage of the built-in 802.11b functionality for surfing and possibly e-mailing. With the PSP slated to get another update with support for Flash and RSS, the keyboard is almost a no-brainer. The cell phone attachment, by contrast, may never see the light of day as there would likely be little demand for it. What would make perfect sense with the PSP is VoIP functionality similar to that which is planned in an upcoming software update to the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet. That could be accomplished with a mere firmware update and a microphone attachment.

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