Monday, February 7, 2011

Sprint Unveils Dual-Screened Phone!

Kyocera Echo

NEW YORK--After weeks of teasing an "industry first," Sprint finally took the wraps off its secret project and unveiled the Kyocera Echo, the first dual touch-screen smartphone, at a special event in New York today.

Available later this spring for $199.99 with a two-year contract, the Kyocera Echo boasts two 3.5-inch WVGA touch screens and a "pivot hinge" that allows you to place the two displays side by side to form a larger 4.7-inch display. In development for more than a year and a half (even longer for the hardware), the Echo runs Android 2.2 and features software that is optimized to take advantage of the two screens.
There are actually four modes in which you can use the Android 2.2 device: standard, tablet, optimized, and simultasking. In standard mode, you can use the Echo as a traditional touch-screen smartphone. The pivot hinge allows you to tuck the second display under the first, so you can navigate and operate the handset like many of today's latest devices. Meanwhile, tablet mode lets you view and interact with an app on both screens.
The optimized and simultask modes are a little more advanced in their capabilities. The former supports a single app and gives you the main view on one screen, and the app's complementary features and functionality on the second screen. For example, if you're checking e-mail, you'll get a view of your full inbox on one side of the screen, and the second will give display the full text of a selected message. Another example is the photo gallery. You can get a full view of a photo on the top screen and a thumbnail photo gallery on the bottom.
However, the simultask mode is where the Echo's true attraction might lie. In this mode, you'll be able to take multitasking to a new level as you'll be able to use two apps concurrently with each displayed on one of the dual touch screens. At launch, there will only be seven main apps that will support simultask mode--browser, contacts, e-mail, messaging, gallery, phone, and VueQue (YouTube app that lets you view video on the top screen and lists related clips below). Each will be marked with a small blue-gray box to indicate simultask support.
Once you select one of those apps, you can tap both screens to select a second app to display on the other screen. There's an onscreen function that will allow you to easily swap the tasks as well.
When we first heard reports of the Kyocera Echo this morning, we weren't sure what to expect but we can definitely say we were impressed by what we saw during our meeting with Sprint and Kyocera earlier in the day, but of course, there are concerns. For one, what is the battery life going to be with two touch screens? The Echo ships with a 1,370mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 5 hours and Sprint says it's been testing on par or better than other smartphones. However, Sprint is including a second battery along with a charging case in the box, so you can easily swap out the battery.
The second concern we had was how smooth the navigation would be between the two screens. Both Sprint and Kyocera realized that minimizing the seam between both displays was a key factor in creating a good user experience, so they did their best to make that happen. We can say it was certainly better than what we expected, but there is still a break in fluidity with some tasks, such as navigating a Web site. We only had a few minutes with the device, however, so perhaps this is something we could grow accustomed to with more time.
Other features of the Kyocera Echo of note include a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, a 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video recording, mobile hot-spot capabilities (up to five devices), and 1GB internal memory and preinstalled 8GB microSD card. As noted earlier, the Echo is running Android 2.2, but there is no custom user interface.
One omission that might disappoint some is the lack of 4G support. However, Sprint said in order to keep costs down and in order to bring the smartphone to market sooner rather than later, there was a bit of trade off.

Read more:

This phone looks pretty cool, too bad I don't have Sprint :/

Thursday, February 3, 2011

India Develops 10 Dollar Laptop?!

NEW DELHI (AFP) — India has unveiled plans to produce a laptop computer costing just 10 dollars in a bid to improve the skills of millions of students across the country.
The laptops will be mass-produced as part of a government-sponsored education scheme launched on Tuesday in the southern city of Tirupati.
Details about the computer remained scarce, but Higher Education Secretary R.P. Agrawal said last week that it would be available within six months.
"Once the testing is over, the computers will be made available on commercial basis," he told the Press Trust of India news agency.
"Its cost will be 10 US dollars. If the parents want to gift something to their kids, they can easily purchase this item."
The laptop will reportedly have a two gigabyte memory and wireless Internet capability, but officials have not publicly demonstrated a prototype -- or yet explained how it can be produced at such a low cost.
The government has earmarked more than 46 billion rupees (939 million dollars) to develop the low-power gadget to work in rural areas with unreliable power supply and poor Internet connectivity.
The planned laptop is part of a push to increase the number of students in higher education and give them the technological skills needed to further boost India's economic growth.
New Delhi rebuffed a previous attempt to bring cheap laptops to India, led by MIT computer scientist Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child programme.
The government cited hidden costs for its rejection of that computer, which was dubbed the 100-dollar laptop.

I have my doubts as to whether or not this will work, and if will function well or hardly at all, but I wish India the best in creating this piece of junk.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Is Bing Copying Google?

After noticing curious search results at Bing, then running a sting operation to investigate further, Google has
concluded that Microsoft is copying Google search results into its own search engine.

That's the report from Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan today, who talked to both companies about it and presented Google's evidence. According to the report, a mechanism could be the Suggested Sites feature of Internet Explorer and the Bing Toolbar for browsers, both of which can gather data about what links people click when running searches.

The story began with Google's team for correcting typographical errors in search terms, which monitors its own and rivals' performance closely. Typos that Google could correct would lead to search results based on the correction, but the team noticed Bing would also lead to those search results without saying it had corrected the typo.

Next came the sting, setting up a "honeypot" to catch the operation in action. Google created "one-time code that would allow it to manually rank a page for a certain term," then wired those results for particular, highly obscure search terms such as "hiybbprqag" and "ndoswiftjobinproduction," Sullivan said. With the hand coding, typing those search terms would produce recognizable Web pages in Google results that wouldn't show in search results otherwise.

Next, Google had employees type in those search terms from home using Internet Explorer with both Suggested Sites and the Bing Toolbar enabled, clicking the top results as they went. Before the experiment, neither Bing nor Google returned the hand-coded results, but two weeks later, Bing showed the Google results that had been hand-coded.

Microsoft didn't say today whether it plans to continue the practice, but evidently it doesn't consider it "cheating," as Google does.

In a comment to ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft said, flatly, "We do not copy Google's results." However, that denial turns out to be more a matter of interpretation.
We use over 1,000 different signals and features in our ranking algorithm. A small piece of that is clickstream data we get from some of our customers, who opt-in to sharing anonymous data as they navigate the web in order to help us improve the experience for all users.

To be clear, we learn from all of our customers. What we saw in today's story was a spy-novelesque stunt to generate extreme outliers in tail query [rare search query] ranking. It was a creative tactic by a competitor, and we'll take it as a back-handed compliment. But it doesn't accurately portray how we use opt-in customer data as one of many inputs to help improve our user experience.
The history of the web and the improvement of a broad array of consumer and business experiences is actually the story of collective intelligence, from sharing HTML documents to hypertext links to click data and beyond. Many companies across the Internet use this collective intelligence to make their products better every day.

Google made it clear it isn't happy about it.
"I've got no problem with a competitor developing an innovative algorithm. But copying is not innovation, in my book," Sullivan quotes Google Fellow and search expert Amit Singhal as saying. "It's cheating to me because we work incredibly hard and have done so for years but they just get there based on our hard work...Another analogy is that it's like running a marathon and carrying someone else on your back, who jumps off just before the finish line."

At Google we strongly believe in innovation and are proud of our search quality. We look forward to competing with genuinely new search algorithms out there, from Bing and others--algorithms built on core innovation and not on recycled search results copied from a competitor.
Google didn't respond to CNET questions about whether it plans any actions beyond publicizing the honeypot.

Google brought its concerns to Sullivan shortly before a Bing search event today. Coincidentally or not, Google just shifted that event's agenda significantly. Indeed, the search-copying issue become the focus of a debate between Microsoft and Google representatives at the conference.

Stefan Weitz, director of Microsoft's Bing search engine, shared this response with Sullivan: "Opt-in programs like the [Bing] toolbar help us with clickstream data [information that shows Microsoft what links people click on], one of many input signals we and other search engines use to help rank sites. This 'Google experiment' seems like a hack to confuse and manipulate some of these signals."

Hack, experiment, or honeypot, it's very revealing. Google created about 100 such hand-coded results, Sullivan said, so it's hard to imagine the act distorting search results in any significant way. The next relevant question will be to see whether Microsoft concludes it's time to update its own search algorithm so that a Bing search for "hiybbprqag" won't lead to ticket information for the Wiltern theater anymore.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lego Stop-Motion Camera

This isn't exactly technology "news" but I thought it was kind of cool, so here.

Here is something fun for all the Lego fans out there, the Lego Stop Animation Video Camera, which is capable of recording both regular video and also stop animations.
This fun Lego video camera features a Macro lens, and there is also an SD card slot so you be able to record hours of video and stop animations.
Lego Stop Animation Video Camera
The Lego stop animation video camera features a 1.5 inch rotating LCD display, and it measures 3.6 inches, by 1.6 inches by 2.6 inches and weighs in at just 13.6 ounces.
If you want one this fun Lego video camera is available for $79.99 

Monday, January 31, 2011

Super Death Ray?!

What you are seeing here is a “death-ray” made by gluing 5,800 tiny mirror tiles to a fiberglass satellite dish.
According to my Source, it is powerful enough to “melt steel, vaporize aluminum, boil concrete, turn dirt into lava, and obliterate any organic material in an instant”. Believe it or not, it was built by a 19-year-old named Eric Jacqmain who wanted to prove how powerful the sun’s energy is.
Okay, point taken! Unfortunately, Jacqmain’s invention failed because it was destroyed by a shed fire that was started by its own energy. Jacqmain says he want so build a more powerful version with 32,000 mirrors in the future. Will that be more powerful than the sun?2

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Huge Hard Drive For iPods!

Toshiba has this week unveiled its latest 1.8 inch hard drive that could lead the way for a new range of media devices capable of helping you store up to 55,000 songs, 275 hours of video or even 34,000 photos in your pocket.

Toshiba MKxx39GSL
With Apples Classic iPod now looking a little dated with its 60GB of storage the new Toshiba MKxx39GSL could easily increase this up to a more satisfying 220GB, with a little help from Apple.
These single platter drives would be a perfect fit for the iPod form factor, and with their new connectors and offering a higher 16MB memory buffer the drive are less likely to skip when you’re moving about.
The MKxx39GSL series of 1.8-inch hard drives will be available in capacities of 160 GB, 200 GB and 220 GB running at 4200 rpm.
More information about the new range of Toshiba MKxx39GSL drives is available from Toshibas website.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kindle Outselling Paperback Books!

 Barely six months after crowing that itsKindle e-books were outselling its selection of hardcover books, Amazon has announced that sales of Kindle titles are now outpacing paperbacks, as well.
The news came as Amazon announced its (disappointing, for Wall Street) earnings Thursday, with online retailing giant noting that since January 1, U.S. customers have bought 115 Kindle editions for every 100 paperbacks sold.
Meanwhile, Kindle e-book sales opened up an even bigger lead over hardcover sales, with Kindle titles outselling hardbacks by an eye-opening three-to-one margin.
Amazon noted that it didn't count free Kindle volumes in its statistics, which would have bumped up the Kindle e-book figures even higher. On the other hand, the tally includes hardcover and paperback books that don't have Kindle editions, Amazon said.
Amazon continues to keep sales figures for its Kindle e-reader hardware close to its vest, saying only that it had sold "million" of its third-generation Kindle device.
The latest Kindle was unveiled last summer and went on sale in August, with the cheaper Wi-Fi-only version selling for $139. The 3G-enabled model goes for $189.
About 810,000 Kindle e-books are currently available on Amazon, the company said, versus 630,000 volumes last July.
Amazon crowed that more than 670,000 Kindle books are selling for $9.99 or less; that said, many e-books on the New York Times bestseller list are priced closer to the $15 mark.
Ben Patterson, Yahoo! News

I'm not that thrilled with this, because even as a teenager obsessed with electronics, I still prefer actual books. The feel of a paper book is more comforting, in my opinion, than a piece of plastic/metal/whatever the Kindle is. I don't think i'll be buying one of these.