Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Microsoft launched free security software

After being criticised time and again for the amount of viruses and malware that affect the Windows operating system, Microsoft has decided to finally do something about it. The Redmond giant is set to make available a free suite of security software, and is calling the Security Essentials.

Offering antivirus and anti-malware protection, Security Essentials will be completely free to download either from the Windows Update program or through its official page. And as with all other free antivirus software, it will receive periodic updates to virus definitions via the Internet.

The download is expected to be about 4.7MB in size, and requires the user to have a legitimate copy of Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 (Beta or RC). It’s as yet unclear whether the launch is going to be worldwide or restricted to a few regions, but all indications are that it should be an international release.

The Security Essentials suite is Microsoft’s new iteration of the Windows Live OneCare paid package, and has been in beta testing for a few months now. Several testers have already reviewed the beta version.

PC World has extensively reviewed the software suite, with Nick Mediati writing: “The Microsoft Security Essentials interface is clear-cut and cleanly designed. You'll likely spend most of your time on the Home tab; ‘set it and forget it’ aptly describes Microsoft Security Essentials. The default settings are appropriate for most users...”

The Security Essentials public beta also took fourth place in PC World’s recent roundup of free antivirus software. Microsoft Security Essentials beta detected 97.8 percent of malware in tests conducted by, which is decent score compared to other, similar free antivirus tools. Malware scans were a bit on the sluggish side, though, taking longer to scan than a number of competing products.

Reviewer Erik Larkin wrote: "If Microsoft can improve the detection rate a bit – and rev up the scan speed more than a bit – before the program's final release, Security Essentials could turn out to be a real contender in the free antivirus arena."

All in all, if you are someone who uses AVG Free, Avira or Avast, then Microsoft Security Essentials might be a very viable alternative.

Dell brings wireless recharging to laptops

Dell is releasing a new laptop for business customers is the opposite of surprising. But the fact that it contains notable features not seen in any other laptops certainly is.

Most everything about the new Latitude Z is expected: It's yet another very thin notebook (a metric which PC manufacturers keep using to try to one-up each other), with a different kind of exterior finish (soft-touch, in this case), and comes in a black cherry. It measures 16 inches across, and is 14 millimeters thin at its most narrow point.

But you probably wouldn't guess that the Latitude Z charges wirelessly. And as far as we can tell, it's the first laptop to do so. Surprised that this is coming from Dell? You're not alone.

The wireless charging is handled elegantly enough. An inductive pad that's built into a laptop stand can accomplish a full recharge in "about the same amount of time" as a standard-issue cabled charger, according to Dell. While smartphone maker Palm has a similar (albeit smaller) wireless charging system for the Pre, and companies like Visteon and Wild Charge have debuted wireless charging accessories for phones, no PC maker has incorporated the idea until now.

Most people aren't used to seeing Dell trying new things like this, some of it actually ahead of competitors. Last year, we wrote about how Dell was starting to be a little more risky about the types of products it was trying out. Not new to the market, just new to Dell, which has traditionally had a habit of waiting, analyzing the market's response to new products, and jumping in later with a more efficient, and less expensive way of making that product.

But that way of doing things is over for Dell now. The company has struggled to find the right mix of products and now has less opportunity to be picky. But it's a good sign that the company is trying out smaller, more innovative, and more practical ideas like wireless charging, docking, instant on, and touch interfaces. Though it's only in the Latitude Z right now, we hear these features are stirring a lot of interest in other product groups at Dell. It's easy to see how, for a cheaper price (the Z starts at $1,999), these new features could find much broader acceptance with retail customers.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Intel planning new 'App Store' for Atom netbooks

Here's another AppStore to add to the Mall, Intel's new developer program for its Atom-based computers.

In a press release, they unveiled plans of a developer program which allows people to target Atom-based devices. Renee James, corporate vice president and general manager, Intel Software and Services Group explains the need for an such as program:

"We want to fuel the growth of Intel Atom-based products designed for the mobile lifestyle. The netbook has become one of the most popular consumer devices in the market today, but its true potential has been limited by applications that are not optimized for its mobility and smaller screen size. The Intel Atom Developer Program provides a great opportunity for developers to create useful and inventive applications that will unlock a netbook's potential while opening a new sales and distribution channel."

In a model similar to that of the iPhone and Palm stores, Intel will get a 30% cut. However, due the the somewhat higher complexity of the ecology surrounding computers as compared to smart phones, Intel's Developer Program will have a slightly more complicated model. Developers can choose to exchange some of their revenue in exchange for promotion, and they can build and charge for components which will earn them percentage revenue share, based on each application using the component. Sounds very much like a pyramid scheme!

The Developer Program supports the Windows and Moblin Linux platforms, and additionally allows developers to use runtime environments such as Adobe AIR and Java. Strangely enough Silverlight is mentioned as a supported platform in the PR, while it is neither an off-line runtime nor cross-platform across the two platforms the program supports! They also plan to extend this range of platforms and runtimes as demand changes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Camera Reviews

PowerShot A590 IS

The A590 IS is somewhat similar in design to the A720 IS. The A590 IS is an 8 MP camera that comes with a 4x optical zoom and is also one of the cheapest cameras in the category at Rs 10,995.

Build quality seems to have taken a hit too. The battery door seems a little wobbly and loose. The rest of the body looks and feels great. The mode selection is done using a really rigid dial. The user interface hasn’t seen a lot of change either.

The quality in general is decent and a little sharp. There is some grain all through the photos. There is no kind of colouration in the images though. The video frame rate at 640 x 480 has been dropped to 20 fps which means you won’t get the smoothest possible video. For 30 fps you need to drop your video resolution to 320 x 240. If you wish to use the camera for video shooting purposes as well, then this is something to keep in mind before buying this camera.

Some of the old features are still there like the manual focus. It works great, is fun to use and is one of the cheapest cameras to feature this. There is also an Easy mode that lets you forget all about the settings you can use with the camera. Like many other manufacturers, features like face detection have been added to the list of features.

Overall, it scores very close to the Samsung i8. It is kind of disappointing to see a camera such as the A590 IS which should have been as good as its predecessor the A570 IS. Fortunately for you, the prices for the A590 IS are much lower too. If optical zoom holds no interest, then the A590 IS is a great photo taking camera to own.

Samsung NV24HD

The Samsung is another unique camera that we got. Much can’t be said about its performance, but what it does have Is features. The biggest impressive features are the touch sensitive buttons lining the sides of the screen. They make operating the menus and all the settings extremely simple.

The NV24HD not only supports HDMI but also HD video recording. It records videos at resolutions of 1280 x 720 at 30fps. Videos are recorded using H.264 so a good amount of video can be stored as compared to some of the uncompressed video formats used in other cameras. We shot a 1280 x 720 resolution video tat was 25 seconds long, and it took up only 20 MB of space. The HDMI support means images can be viewed on large screens without a lot of quality loss.

As usual, there is one dial for selecting the modes and there’s another one that changes the coloration for the images. We fired test shots with all settings turned to Auto.

It was clear that the quality was above average. In a category where all the cameras were so closely matched, the performance and a little bit of design was to blame for its lowered overall score. We awarded it one of the best scores for the video quality. With its great compression, it also makes a good video recorder, and not just a digital camera.

For a camera with so many features, the design could be a lot better. The flash for example is just a simple cube that pops out from the top of the camera.

The build however is solid and great. Sharp edges could leave scratches to its finish though. A camera such as this is ideal for someone who wants to shoot, but doesn’t know how to get all the settings. The touch buttons definitely help in making things accessible.

Kodak Easyshare M1033

The M1033 is a 10.1 MP Kodak camera priced at around Rs 12,000. The camera has an auto feature that changes modes for the user. So if you get too close to an object, it switches to macro mode accordingly. This can be really useful for new users and for those who do not wish to keep changing settings modes manually. All the menus and options are kept as simple as possible. The interface is also designed with that in mind and the minimal amount of buttons are put on the camera.

The camera itself is compact and solid. The joystick planted on the camera is robust and a little hard to use. The camera supports 720p video recording at 30 fps, which is excellent for a camera. There seems to be no image stabilisation during the video recording mode which is a little bit annoying. The video is still very crisp.

Kodak continues to add many scene modes to choose from. The M1033 is no different. It too comes with countless number of scenario modes. Overall, it seems like a better camera than the M1063. It is just Rs 1,000 more than the M1063, but it does a lot more...and it does it better.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ubuntu Capturing Market

Ubuntu version of the Linux OS is the world’s most popular free desktop OS, and it’s popularity is growing up - from the bottom. Going over the role that Linux plays on the desktop and where its future lies, Shuttleworth specifically commented on a question issued about Wine – which as many of you may know, is the most popular way of running Windows-based programs on Linux. It's a very useful tool when migrating from Windows to Linux, and often is a mainstay of any desktop Linux distribution; as often there are cases when a program is more easily available under Windows.
Ubuntu has been selected by readers of as the most popular Linux distribution for the desktop, claiming approximately 30% of Linux desktop installations in both 2006 and 2007. Some people usually feel burden of the drivers in other operating systems, but in most of the Linux based operating systems, you will not face this problem. As if we take the case of Ubuntu only, it will provide you almost all the drivers preinstalled like audio, video, LAN card, blue-tooth, wifi etc. In the older versions of Ubuntu, people were required to install the drivers manually but now you need not to install them anymore in latest version(9.04). Also Ubuntu is spread worldwide in such a manner that you will get lot of forums for all sort of issues related to Ubuntu as it comes with full commercial support from Canonical and hundreds of companies around the world. As others have pointed out, attempting to emulate Windows won't do much good to capture market share. What would help is to focus on what people want or need to do, at its core. There may be difficulty in luring people away from apps they are loyal too, but software changes and is replaced as time goes on. The future of Linux on desktop doesn't lie within Windows app compatibility, but rather making the Linux desktop something people want to use due to its own merit.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

ROBO Week: The Best Robots

There is greater advancement seen in robotics now a days. In this post I would like to showcase some of the favourite robots and their videos, for this particular week. Robots in movies has always been a fascinating subject. On the one hand Robots carry that machine like mystique that enables them to do things that we humans can’t. And that factor alone leads us to curiosity and amazement. On the other, when we see human qualities in these robots, it makes them that much more interesting.


With the slogan of "Makes life fun, makes you happy!", QRIO entered the market in 2003. Bipedal robots that can walk up stairs seem flatfooted compared with the running, jumping, and traditional-Japanese-fan-dancing Qrio. Officially, Sony uses its state-of-the-art androids, debuted in 2003, as corporate ambassadors. But the company may one day sell them for entertainment.

QRIO is capable of voice and face recognition, making it able to remember people as well as their likes and dislikes.Four fourth-generation QRIO prototype robots were featured dancing in the Hell Yes music video by recording artist Beck.


Humanoid robot is a robot which looks like a human. its an autonomous robot which can adapt to changes in its environment or itself and continue to reach its goal. I-Sobot is the world’s smallest mass produced humanoid robot. Although it is fully functional, and features 17 degrees of freedom, the i-SOBOT is so small that the developers carry it around in a small plastic toolbox. It's target price is small also, about one third of the price of its nearest larger competition. It does pack a tremendous amount of performance, and a huge personality into that tiny package.

I-Sobot can be controlled in proper fashion for robot soccer tournaments, races, and other friendly competitions via it’s powerful infrared remote control. The remote control also allows you to create scripts, which are user defined chains of robot movements. The i-Sobot comes fully assembled and ready to play right out of the box.

RiSE: The Amazing Climbing Robot

RiSE is a small six-legged robot that climbs vertical terrain such as walls, trees and fences. RiSE’s feet have claws, micro-claws or sticky material, depending on the climbing surface. RiSE changes posture to conform to the curvature of the climbing surface and a fixed tail helps RiSE balance on steep ascents. RiSE is about 0.25 m long, weighs 2 kg, and travels 0.3 m/s.

Each of RiSE’s six legs is powered by two electric motors. An onboard computer controls leg motion, manages communications, and services a variety of sensors. The sensors include an inertial measurement unit, joint position sensors for each leg, leg strain sensors and foot contact sensors.