1/4/2006

Microsoft has released a beta of its .Net port to Python.

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

IronPython 1.0 Beta 1, which was released at the end of last week, is “well integrated” with the rest of the .Net programming framework and allows all .Net libraries to be “easily” accessed by Python programmers, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft’s support for Python could help the software giant attract Unix developers to the Windows platform, as it is a commonly used scripting language on the Unix platform, according to Salim Fadhley, who develops Python programs for Unix.

“If Microsoft embraces Python, it could be a big draw for Unix hackers–if our favorite language was supported as a first-tier language by a major software vendor, it would be a major draw to Windows. At the moment, most Python developers hack on Mac and Linux,” Fadhley said. “IronPython could be a massive landgrab by Microsoft into the domain of traditional Unix scripting.”

But Microsoft isn’t the only organization trying to bring .Net support to other platforms–it will have to compete with the open-source Mono project, which aims to bring .Net support to non-Microsoft operating systems, including Unix.

Microsoft has not said whether it will add IronPython support to its Visual Studio tools suite, but it is thought by many that they will. These rumors were further fueled by the news in December that software vendor ActiveState is dropping support for its Visual Python product, a Visual Studio plug-in for the scripting language.

Source: News.com

Gates to exhibit Vista Windows upgrade at CES

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Bill Gates on Wednesday will show an avid tech audience the long-awaited major upgrade to Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system, called Vista, as the electronics industry’s biggest U.S. conference kicks off.

Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder and chief software architect, speaks on Wednesday afternoon and is a veteran keynote speaker at the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, held annually in Las Vegas.

A dozen industries are convening in Las Vegas this week for the industry’s annual confab to show off the latest electronic gadgets as they angle for a bigger share of a $122 billion industry.

On Wednesday, Gates takes the wraps off the operating system’s user interface, and his presentation is expected to focus on the consumer-related features of Vista, such as moving video, music, movies and other digital content easily among PCs and devices.

Source: Reuters

Internet poses political challenge to Asian governments

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Asian governments attempting to control the free flow of information face a struggle as their citizens increasingly turn to the Internet for alternative views.

As Internet penetration rates surge across Asia, governments, including those in China and Vietnam, are finding it harder to deal with political challenges arising from the availability of information through the Web, the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) said.

“Governments that attempt to control the free flow of information are fighting an uphill battle,” the Hong Kong-based PERC said in its latest Asian Intelligence report on Wednesday.

“They might be able to control what is written in their country’s printed media and broadcast over radio and television systems, but the Internet linked with telephone advances poses new challenges.

“It is putting the tools to send and receive information quickly and cheaply into the hands of millions of people who previously had access only to official channels of news.”

It warned that the more governments censor traditional media channels “the more that people are being driven to the Web to get their news information”.

Countries where newspapers and the broadcast media are tightly controlled by the government are likely to be impacted more by the use of the Internet as a forum for dissent than nations that have a free press, it said.

PERC cited a report by industry watchdog Freedom House which named China, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam as countries where the press is “not free”.

Of the four, the most vulnerable to the political impact of the Internet are China, Vietnam and Malaysia where the governments have taken a stronger stance to censor the Web, it said.

Source: AFP

China Launches Site to Report Corruption

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

China is putting its marathon anti-graft crackdown online, launching a Web site for the public to report corrupt officials.

The site adds to efforts to assure China’s public that the ruling Communist Party takes complaints seriously even as many believe they face retaliation for reporting abuses.

The new site is run by the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The Web site offers Chinese villagers and others a way to lodge complaints directly, bypassing local authorities who are sometimes criticized for retaliating against petitioners or refusing to take action on complaints.

Source: AP

Bye-bye hard drive, hello flash

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Manufacturers of NAND flash memory say they will expand the market for their chips over the next few years and colonize devices that now rely on hard drives or other types of memory. In turn, this could mean phones that can record several hours of video, or smaller notebooks with twice or more the battery life.

The NAND noise will be particularly strong at the Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas, with manufacturers showing off the solid-state technology as an increasingly important component in cell phones and talking up how it will find its way into notebook hard drives in 2006.

Source: News.com

H&R Block Mailing Reveals Customers’ SSNs

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Some H&R Block customers who received free copies of the company’s TaxCut software also had their Social Security numbers exposed, according to a company spokesperson.

H&R Block sent a letter to customers in late December saying that a tracking number used on packages containing TaxCut contained the customer’s Social Security number as part of a unique, 47-digit tracking number.

H&R Block blamed user error for the slip and said the number would be impossible to spot, and that no customer data has been lost or stolen as a result of the mistake, according to Denise Sposato, a spokesperson for H&R Block.

H&R Block learned of the slip-up in late December, after a customer informed the company that a unique ID that appeared on the package, above the mailing label, contained his or her Social Security number.

The number is used by H&R Block’s marketing department, Sposato said.

After learning of the mishap, H&R Block moved quickly to identify the source of the error and customers who were affected by it, Sposato said.

Source: eWeek

Toshiba Introduces First HD DVD Players for the U.S.

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Toshiba America Consumer Products, L.L.C. (”Toshiba”) unveiled today the market launch details for its line-up of the first High Definition DVD players for the U.S. market. The new HD DVD players, models HD-XA1 and HD-A1, will take advantage of the superior capabilities of the HD DVD format, including outstanding visual quality supported by leading-edge video compression technologies, the high resolution audio specifications and the capability for enhanced functionality including, Advanced Navigation, also referred to as “iHD.”
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Portable OpenOffice.org 2.01 Released

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Portableapps.com has released Portable OpenOffice.org 2.01 — the complete office suite you can run from a USB drive for complete access to both your files and your office apps — anywhere you go.

More than just a neat idea, some say it’s a perfect example of “the kind of innovation developers can make when they don’t have to worry about selling as many licenses of their work as possible.” I don’t imagine we’ll see a portable Microsoft Office suite any time soon.

Source: Slashdot

Nintendo Sells 10M Handheld Game Systems

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Nintendo Co. said Tuesday that it has sold about 10 million of its Nintendo DS handheld game systems worldwide, including about 4 million in North America and more than 5 million in Japan.

Perrin Kaplan, vice president for marketing at Nintendo’s U.S. headquarters in Redmond, said the company sold about 3 million of the handheld gaming gadgets to North American consumers in 2005. That’s on top of 1.2 million sold to North American consumers in 2004, following the system’s late November launch.

Rival Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE - news). said it has sold 3.2 million of its handheld game system, the PlayStation Portable, in North America between its March launch and mid-December. The company did not yet have sales figures through the end of 2005.

Source: AP

Studios announce next-generation DVD titles

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Film studios on Wednesday will release slates of next-generation DVDs due later this year in a move to jump start a multibillion dollar industry that risks being bogged down by a standards war.

Failure of two technology camps, called Blu-ray and HD DVD, to reach a unified technological front has set the stage this year for a formats war like the costly VHS/Betamax battle of 25 years ago.

Both Blu-ray, led by Sony Corp. and HD DVD, championed by Toshiba Corp., are expected this spring to launch new high-definition DVD players, offering greater capacity and interactive features, hoping to breathe new life into the sagging home video market.

News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox said it will release 20 Blu-ray films in a first wave this year that will include hits like “Fantastic Four” and “Ice Age.”

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment said it will release 20 titles on Blu-ray beginning this spring, including “The Fifth Element,” and “Hitch“.

Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. said it will announce products tied to both formats at the Consumer Electronics Show this week. Some electronics makers have said they plan announcements related to the formats at the show.

Sony’s Blu-ray appears to have amassed more allies, including Apple Computer Inc. Panasonic and the greater share of movie studios, although some industry watchers believe HD-DVD’s enlistment of Microsoft, has turned the whole dispute into a battle with personal computers at the center.

Hewlett-Packard, which has long sat on the board of the Blu-ray Disc Association, only recently decided to also join HD-DVD after Blu-ray failed to comply with certain technology requests it proposed to make Blu-ray more appealing to computer users.

Source: Reuters

DirecTV unveils portable media player service

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Directv Group Inc. on Tuesday said it planned to roll out various new products in 2006, including its new DIRECTV 2Go service for portable media players and a new HD DVR.

Starting in the first quarter, DIRECTV will offer customers top programs from NBC and cable networks, USA, SCI FI and Bravo, within hours after they air, commercial free, for 99 cents, through the new DIRECTV Plus interactive DVR.

The DIRECTV 2Go service will allow DIRECTV customers to transfer programming content from their DIRECTV Plus DVR to a wide variety of portable media players.

Source: Reuters

Google denies Google PC reports

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Google has denied reports that it is working on a low-price personal computer or a “Google Cube” that would link up a user’s PC, TV, set-top box and cell phone.

“We have many PC partners who serve their markets exceedingly well and we see no need to enter that market; we would rather partner with great companies,” Google said in a statement.

Source: News.com

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