Archive for March, 2010

Gnome 2.30 Released

March 31st, 2010 03:37 admin View Comments

Hypoon writes “The GNOME project is proud to release this new version of the GNOME desktop environment and developer platform. Among the hundreds of bug fixes and user-requested improvements, GNOME 2.30 has several highly visible changes: new features for advanced file management, better remote desktop experience, easier notes synchronization and a generally smoother user experience. Learn more about GNOME 2.30 through the detailed release notes and the press release.”

Source: Gnome 2.30 Released

Fossil of Ant-Eating Dinosaur Discovered In China

March 31st, 2010 03:29 admin View Comments

thomst writes “Charles Q. Choi of LiveScience reports that a farmer in southern Henan Province in China has dug up the first known ant-eating dinosaur, a half-meter-long theropod (the dinosaur family to which T. Rex belongs), whose fossilized remains were described as ‘fairly intact’. The 83- to 89-million-year-old pygmy dinosaur has been named named Xixianykus zhangi by Xig Xu, De-you Wang, Corwin Sullivan, David Hone, Feng-lu Han, Rong-hao Yan, and Fu-ming Du, whose paper on the critter, A basal parvicursorine (Theropoda: Alvarezsauridae) from the Upper Cretaceous of China, was published in the March 29 issue of Zootaxa (the abstract is available in PDF format for free, the full article is paywall-protected.)”

Source: Fossil of Ant-Eating Dinosaur Discovered In China

The End of the Road For Texting Truckers

March 31st, 2010 03:46 admin View Comments

crimeandpunishment writes “The US Transportation Department is calling for a permanent ban on texting while driving, for interstate truck and bus drivers. An interim ban has been in place since January. The government says it is doing everything it can to make roads safer by reducing the threat of distracted drivers. The Transportation Department says nearly 6,000 people were killed and half a million injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2008.”

Source: The End of the Road For Texting Truckers

Office Guardian Angel Worse Than Clippy

March 31st, 2010 03:27 admin View Comments

ZWilder writes “Remember ‘Clippy’, the annoying anthropomorphic paper clip foisted upon unsuspecting users of Office? Well Microsoft has taken the concept behind Clippy and ‘turned the dial up to 11′ with its new, even more intrusive animated life-coach, known as ‘Guardian Angel.’ Patented in 2006, Guardian Angel is ‘an intelligent personalized agent’ that ‘monitors and evaluates a user’s environment to assist in decision-making processes on behalf of the user.’ Like a manlier Fairy Godmother. Or a similarly omniscient HAL from ’2001: A Space Oddysey.’”

Source: Office Guardian Angel Worse Than Clippy

World’s Smallest Superconductor Discovered

March 31st, 2010 03:26 admin View Comments

arcticstoat writes “One of the barriers to the development of nanoscale electronics has potentially been eliminated, as scientists have discovered the world’s smallest superconductor. Made up of four pairs of molecules, and measuring just 0.87nm, the superconductor could potentially be used as a nanoscale interconnect in electronic devices, but without the heat and power dissipation problems associated with standard metal conductors.”

Source: World’s Smallest Superconductor Discovered

Microsoft Claims Google Chrome Steals Your Privacy

March 31st, 2010 03:11 admin View Comments

An anonymous reader writes “Microsoft is going on the offensive against Google, accusing the search giant of creating a browser that does not respect user privacy. The company posted a video, embedded below, on TechNet Edge with the following description: ‘Watch a demo on how Google Chrome collects every keystroke you make and how Internet Explorer 8 keeps your information private through two address bars and In Private browsing.’ Microsoft’s first criticism is Chrome’s combining the address bar and the search box into a single entry box; IE8 keeps those fields separate. ‘By keeping these boxes separate, your privacy is better protected and the addresses of the sites you’re visiting aren’t automatically shared with Microsoft, or anyone else,’ says IE product manager Pete LePage.”

Source: Microsoft Claims Google Chrome Steals Your Privacy

iPhone OS 4.0: Exposé Like Multitasking; Universal Mailbox; Add Contacts To Home Screen

March 31st, 2010 03:05 admin View Comments

iPad and iPhone OS to be unified by iPhone OS 4.0

AppleInsider is reporting that iPhone OS 4.0 will finally allow multitasking so that users can use multiple third party iPhone apps in the background.

According to ‘people familiar with Apple's plans for the new firmware’, users will be able to switch between iPhone apps running in the background using an interface similar to the Exposé function found in Mac OS X.

AppleInsider had reported earlier couple of weeks back that Apple has developed a "full-on solution" to multitasking in the iPhone OS 4.0.

They have now received details on how the multitasking feature will work:

Those familiar with the design of iPhone 4.0 said that the user interface will resemble Apple's desktop Expose feature, in that a key combination — reportedly hitting the Home button twice — will trigger an expose-like interface that brings up a series of icons representing the currently running apps, allowing users to quickly select the one they want to switch to directly. When a selection is made, the iPhone OS zooms out of the Expose task manager and transitions to that app.

Apple Insider is also reporting that iPhone OS 4.0 will also include features such as the universal mailbox and the ability to add individual contacts to the iPhone's home screen.

Apple had introduced the Push Notification service in iPhone OS 3.0 as a workaround to the multitasking feature. But it has limitations, as it doesn’t solve the problem for Radio iPhone apps, which ideally should be able to run in the background. So true multitasking is still one of the most wanted features by iPhone users.

iPhone users who have jailbroken their iPhone can already run third party iPhone apps in the background thanks to jailbreak iPhone apps such as Backgrounder, ProSwitcher, Circuitous etc.

Apple is expected to release iPhone OS 4.0 in June. Last year, Apple had a special event in mid-March to preview iPhone OS 3.0.

We are eagerly waiting for Apple to give us a glimpse of iPhone OS 4.0. Let's hope it is soon after the launch of the iPad.

[via AppleInsider]

Source: iPhone OS 4.0: Exposé Like Multitasking; Universal Mailbox; Add Contacts To Home Screen

Even Antisocial Tortoise Hermits Learn From Each Other

March 31st, 2010 03:19 admin View Comments

WATCH_AND_LEARN_When it comes to picking up clever tricks and learning to do something the way everybody else does it, social animals like humans, birds, and monkeys excel. One individual looks at what others in the group are doing and quickly learns to follow suit—an invaluable skill that scientists previously thought evolved in step with communal living.

But what about an individual that doesn’t live in a group and spends most of its life in solitude–would it still have that ability to watch and learn? Cognitive biologist Anna Wilkinson set out to answer that question by studying the red-footed tortoise, one of the loneliest beasts on the planet. These South American tortoises grow up without parents or siblings, and adults rarely cross paths. If a head-bobbing display determines that a stranger is of the opposite sex, the two will mate perfunctorily–otherwise they just ignore each other [ScienceNOW]. Yet in a new study published in Biology Letters, Wilkinson showed that even these hermits possess the ability to learn by watching others.

In her experiment, Wilkinson set up a V-shaped wire mesh with a bowl of treats placed inside the point of the vee. She then let a tortoise named Wilhelmina try to get to the treats, but the tortoise couldn’t figure out how to get around the mesh and instead tried unsuccessfully to go through it. After weeks of arduous training and about 150 attempts, Wilhelmina finally learned to go around the mesh to get to the treats.

Then the researchers let four other tortoises try the navigation test. Like Wilhelmina initially, they all failed to find a way around the mesh–but when they watched the trained tortoise maneuver her way to the bowl of goodies, they quickly picked up cues. Two tortoises caught on the first time they watched Wilhelmina, and two, including [Wilkinson's pet tortoise] Moses, managed on at least 11 out of 12 days [Science News] (but he could not part the mesh to get to the other side).

The antisocial tortoises’ remarkable accomplishment suggests that social learning, rather than a unique ability that evolved in social animals because it makes them more successful in group living, is simply another dimension of general learning, which depends only on an animal’s cognitive abilities, Wilkinson says [ScienceNOW]. Louis Lefebvre, an animal behaviorist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, added: “Information in the environment is information in the environment, whether it’s given to you by an animal” or not…. “This study confirms it in a nice way” [ScienceNOW].

Image: Martin Krondorfe

Source: Even Antisocial Tortoise Hermits Learn From Each Other

“Supertaskers” Can Safely Use Mobile Phones While Driving

March 31st, 2010 03:56 admin View Comments

nk497 writes “While most of us are dangerous when texting, chatting on a phone or being otherwise distracted while driving, one in 40 are actually just fine with such distractions. In a small study, such ‘supertaskers’ were just as good at driving when carrying on a conversation over a hands-free phone as they were when fully focused. That said, the researchers warned that most people are much worse at driving while chatting and shouldn’t do it, adding: ‘Given the number of individuals who routinely talk on the phone while driving, one would have hoped that there would be a greater percentage of supertaskers.’”

That 1 in 40 aside, reader crimeandpunishment writes “The US Transportation Department is calling for a permanent ban on texting while driving, for interstate truck and bus drivers. An interim ban has been in place since January. The government says it is doing everything it can to make roads safer by reducing the threat of distracted drivers.”

Source: “Supertaskers” Can Safely Use Mobile Phones While Driving

Apple Store Employees Yet To See Or Touch The iPad

March 31st, 2010 03:41 admin View Comments

Secrecy surrounding the iPad

Apple has always been known as a company secretive about its upcoming products. 

When the iPhone was launched back in 2007, the company arranged for guards and decoys for each of the Apple Stores just to ensure that information about the product did not leak out until the moment the device went on sale. 

It then comes as no surprise that employees at the Apple Stores have revealed that they are yet to catch a glimpse of iPad which is set to come to the stores in just a few days from now. In an interesting report on the secrecy that Apple has been maintaining with respect to the iPad, Reuters quotes an unnamed Apple Store employee as saying,

"We haven't seen it; we never do. Every store employee I know, including the managers, they haven't seen it."

Why exactly is the iPad kept under such a veil of secrecy, especially since the device has already been unveiled and pictures and videos of the iPad in action are available on the Apple website itself? The reason as you might have well guessed is to exploit the curiosity among users and thus generate the buzz that has now so well come to be known with new Apple products.

Thanks to the curiosity and the subsequent buzz that the devices generate, there is so much thrust upon customers to be among the first few to lay hands on a device themselves. It is believed that such an anticipation has been the primary reason behind customers lining up in front of Apple Stores overnight to be among the "privileged few" to purchase the device. The subsequent sale and success simply follow the initial momentum generated. A former Apple Store employee agrees. He says,

"I understand why they do it. They give you just a little bit of a peek, just to tease you. It drives people crazy but at the same time it generates all this interest. It's human nature."

What do you think? Are you eager to get your hands on the iPad as much as we are? Do let us know what you think in the comments.

[via Reuters]

Source: Apple Store Employees Yet To See Or Touch The iPad