Sunday, March 30, 2008

Webkit Winning in Dromaeo - Mozilla's JavaScript Benchmark

Benchmarking is always an interesting topic of debate and especially when you have a cult-feeling around a product, it fun to watch. With the Race to ACID3 over, there is another hot topic of discussion going on in the world of web browsers. And it's JavaScript that is in question. Dromaeo is Mozilla's JavaScript Benchmark Test and I happen to put all the popular browsers on the burner!

JavaScript is an important component in today's web. It's used all over the web and is de-facto standard for browser-side execution. It's used through a lot of frameworks like YUI, Prototype, Dojo, jQuery etc. And then there is AJAX, which uses JavaScript at its base. Thus, when you compare browsers, checking the JavaScript performance makes some sense.

Dromaeo

There are a few popular ones for testing JavaScript performance. Infact, you could even write a few of your own and test, but I would recommend one of the popular ones that try to replicate real-world experiences. There is the popular JavaScript test from Webkit called SunSpider. You can find a good comparison of the browsers on that test at CyberNet. I found Mozilla's Dromaeo to be another benchmark which seems to do a lot of things like you would do in the real-world. The following are the browser results from the benchmark.

Browser (version + build) Total Time for Test (click on the timings for detail)
Safari nighly (Webkit r31368) 1805.40ms (Total)
Firefox 3 pre-beta 5 (2008032005) 1855.20ms (Total)
Safari 3.1 (525.13) 2000.80ms (Total)
Opera 9 Beta (WinGogi: build 636) 2625.00ms (Total)
Opera 9.26 (build 8835) 4158.80ms (Total)
Firefox 2.0.0.13 (release) 7897.40ms (Total)
Internet Explorer 7 (7.0.6001.18000) Unknown (didn't have the patience)

Note: Your results may vary due to various reasons, but the ranking would nearly (tough one between WebKit & FF3) be the same.

IE7 had a hard time completing the benchmark (I couldn't wait for it to complete) and as the Mozilla Wiki on the test mentions, it is a problem with IE7. I couldn't do the test on Konqueror as my Linux box has some issues booting up.

Among other things, the test goes to show the performance increase in Firefox 3. Thus, it is the right time for Mozilla to publicize the improvement in JavaScript performance and thus, I guess they have released this benchmark. Webkit and Firefox 3 are pretty much on the heels of each other in this test. Firefox 3 has also made some progress on decreasing the memory it uses when lots of tabs are open. This should give the Mozilla team something to cheer about after they said sour grapes with not participating in the ACID3 race.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

TorrentSpy Closes Down

The last time we checked, all the major torrent sites were all charged up to fight the record companies, movie associations and government agencies. But torrentspy.com is the latest tracker/torrent search site that has shut down. They say its on their own that they have shutdown, and not due to any court order or agreement.

If you visit the website now, all you can see is a message that says they have shutdown... and nothing more. Look below to the screen shot of what's left or go to the site directly!! You can read an interview of MPAA Anti-Piracy director at Arstechnica.

TorrentSpy

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Opera Reaches 100/100 ACID3, But Will Webkit Release First

Update: Webkit's latest build has passed ACID3 with 100/100 and is rendering it pixel perfect as well with r31356.

Update 2: Opera has released the WinGogi build that passes the test. The build can be downloaded here: Windows, Linux. (Its really not a browser and has some problems...)

ACID3 was released just a few days back and I had written about the Race to ACID3. And Indeed, it "was" a fast race!! Did I just say "was"?? Yes, we can all start to guess the winner of the race and it seems Opera is the first to announce it has reached 100/100 on the test. But it really isn't about what the devs say, I'm gonna give the cup to them only when they release the working preview to the world.

The good news is that WebKit (aka Safari nightly) isn't behind. It has reached 98/100 on the latest build. This isn't much of a surprise since they have been going fast on the development in winning the race. They have been regularly updating the world on what's the condition of compatibility to ACID3 and giving nightly (compiled every night) builds to download.

And thus we come to conclude that whether it will be the open-source project of WebKit that will release its nightly that reaches 100/100 or Opera which is closed source and may require some effort to put its build out to the world. Opera has it running on a test HTML renderer app for Windows called WinGogi and not on the Opera browser. I bet on Opera winning this one, coz it really shouldn't take much time to package the renderer once the hard part of flushing the bugs have been done... But did I say underestimate the strength of the community ??

Monday, March 24, 2008

AMD Working With Intel

As odd it may seem, the story holds ground and is one of the useful steps for the Centrino 2 platform of notebooks. Fuad Abazovic of Fudzilla claims that AMD is working hard with Intel to develop switchable graphics in future Centrino laptops. AMD is doing this in the notebooks with Puma and wants to have similar technology in notebooks with Intel chips and ATI/AMD graphic cards.

The thing about switchable graphics is that when your laptop is connected to the power unit or had good battery, it will use the graphics card. When the battery is low, it will switch to the onboard graphics. This will save power and make your battery life increase a little. Its generally close to 5-10% improvement, we heard the last time. But for the dying moments of laptop battery, I have experienced that you always remember the important work.

If you look at the image above, you'll see that the plus sign is red, just like red-cross... That's because it's one of the good things being done on the battlefield between Intel and AMD. This news makes you think how bitter rivals AMD and Intel are working together?? But actually its ATI which is working with Intel and I'm sure AMD has told its engineers not to look, talk, have lunch or discuss anything with Intel engineers. They just make faces when they meet and exchange some white documents with each other... Infact, news is that some even show the "middle-finger" to each other :))

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Is KB950627 News For You ??

I was just looking at my favorite news aggregator, Techmeme when I saw a news link ==> Microsoft Security Advisory (950627) for Microsoft Word. And I asked myself, does Techmeme always show every of these vulnerability messages?? Coz I never thought these to be " tech news" in the real sense unless they were really something serious and has already caused havoc around the world.

If you look at the vulnerability being talked about, you'll realize that similar vulnerabilities have existed previously without much wide-spread exploit. And not just for Microsoft products, but a lot of other products and OS. Infact these "zero-day" exploits are pretty much available for someone who can find exploits in every OS, software and quite a few other things in life :))

But the problem I think here is that Microsoft is always the favorite target of journalists and media people. It also happens to be the favorite punch-bag for a lot of tech evangelists. There are lots of other "real news" that can be aggregated or linked by popular sites. Or is it just a flaw with algorithmic aggregators, where links are all that matters and not the content or significance??

Friday, March 21, 2008

Firefox 3 Beta 5 Out. Last One Before the Final

The Mozilla team has code frozen and baked (some irony: frozen-baked) Firefox 3 and according to talks, it as stable as anything out there. Mozilla says Firefox 3 is ready for prime time and the last beta is out for download. Get it from here.

The entire thing from now on can be watched and tracked here for all the interested people. Firefox 3 is really doing pretty well in terms of stability and there are really very few major bugs left to iron out. If everything goes fine then on 27th March we can have the final of Firefox 3 hit the web.

Its still called Minefield, as you can see from the icon I've put up. But I haven't stepped on a mine yet and it seems good to go !!

Download Windows XP SP3 Next Week

Actually you can download XP SP3 today with some leaks online. Searching on a Bittorrent site, will show that Windows XP SP3 5503 is available for download  and this is the build which seems to be the RTM for Service Pack 3 for XP.

After Vista SP1's release, all the people who don't want to leave XP were eagerly waiting for XP SP3. There were a few RC (Release Candidate) released before this one and hence everyone was anticipating a final release (RTM) sometime soon. Microsoft hasn't confirmed that the SP3 build 5503 is the RTM one and maintains the fact that it will be released in the first half of 2008.

And yes, it is the first half of 2008. Just like Vista SP1, this version could well be the RTM. During Vista SP1, Microsoft had released a build about 2 weeks old and given it to a lot of people. After testing when this build (specifically 1840 for Vista), it seemed to be stable enough and Microsoft called this the RTM build. Same could be the thing for XP SP3 and 5503 can be the RTM build, but don't take my word for it... Try it yourself and check back when the actual RTM is out!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

nVidia To Buy Via To Make x86 Processors

Digitimes is reporting that nVidia may be in talks with Via for an acquisition, but no deal was made due to the high price named by Via. The war between nVidia, AMD and Intel is heating up and it seems the future holds a single chip for graphics and general purpose computing. It means very soon your computer will have a CPU or a GPU (graphics card), not both like we have in today's computers.

Intel recently talked about Larabee and its future platforms and made it clear that its moving through paces with its development of graphics in the CPU. AMD with ATI acquisition is also moving there and "Fusion", is AMD's plan for CPU+GPU processors. This leaves nVidia alone in its GPU world and it may well be the time when it wants to start making x86 processors as well. Via on the other hand, already has an x86 license and has been making processors for low-power devices. But Via isn't making enough money by selling these processors... This is what encouraged nVidia to make a bid for Via and sure is a good explanation for nVidia to buy Via.

Via also has good processor designs in the form of Isaiah which holds good future in the UMPC world. nVidia might be interested in acquiring the CPU design labs, Centaur because of some good designs that have come from there.

From Digitimes:

Nvidia and VIA discussed three possible scenarios, including a strategic alliance, acquisition of only VIA's processor division, or the acquisition of the entire company, according to the sources. Though no deal was agreed upon, since VIA continues to see losses, the company is expected to open up negotiations again soon with a lower price, noted the sources.

It'll be an interesting time in the CPU/GPU world in the coming few months... By next year, we would know if "GPU killed the CPUstar or CPU killed the GPUstar"

Monday, March 17, 2008

Blog About netBeans 6.1 Beta And Win !!

The netBeans project is in beta with version 6.1 in the making and in a bid to encourage more people to talk about it they have released a contest. Its called the "NetBeans IDE 6.1 Beta Blogging Contest", where you have to download the beta, write a blog post and submit it. If you are among the chosen 10, then you 61blog-contest-logo-trans win $500 or 100 others win T-Shirts.

The contest is a nice idea to create buzz about the IDE. netBeans is really shaping up to be the all-rounder in terms of IDEs and with so many plugins, it is a good IDE. A nice mouth-to-mouth publicity by announcing this blogging contest. If you are a good blogger, use netBeans, like its features and want to spread the word, then blog about it. You may just win some goodies... But the last date for submitting your URL is April 18, 2008.

I have blogged about netBeans 6 earlier and may be I'll enter this contest as well. Its never enough to talk about things you like and it may just be worth it!!

Flash Not Good Enough For Steve Jobs, But Windows Mobile Wants It

When Steve Jobs said that Flash wasn't good enough for the iPhone, it was kind of odd. Odd because a lot of devices from other handset manufacturer flashlite including Nokia, Sony Ericsson are easily able to display Flash using FlashLite. But here we are, Steve Jobs saying the iPhone needs a better, "special" version of Flash, just like YouTube site for iPhone.

Soon after that, I was speculating that Apple was going to use Silverlight on the iPhone and Microsoft was pitching a good deal to Apple. But today Microsoft's Windows Mobile team has a surprise for us!! Microsoft has licensed the latest version of Flashlite v3 from Adobe to be installed on handsets with Windows Mobile. The most current version of Flash Lite, which is developed on Adobe Flash CS3, can' display pages built using Flash 9, but it works with sites created using older versions of Flash.

The announcement comes as a surprise because Microsoft has been building its own version of a Flash competitor called Silverlight. Silverlight is under heavy development for the mobile devices, but Microsoft still managed to win Nokia to install Silverlight on its devices. I'm not sure how Nokia would be feeling with this development and I guess they must be thinking some delay in the shipping of a Silverlight for Mobiles.

Either ways, how can be Flashlite good enough for Windows Mobile when it isn't good enough for iPhone?? I guess Steve Jobs always needs special treatment!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Google Adds Source Code Browsing

Google Code is one of the popular open-source project hosting places on the web. And since its Google, it gets press coverage, it is stable and fast and gets a lot of quick features with a simple interface. Subversion or SVN (a new world CVS), which is popular for code-sharing and version control system is used on Google Code. Google added a new code browsing feature on the projects SVN to help view code.

GoogleCode

The Google Announcement reads:

In one Dilbert cartoon, Dogbert confronts a long-winded technology "guru" by showing him some actual code, which blows him away. It's funny because it's true: some long, abstract discussions can turn into short, concrete ones when you can point to code.

We hope you find that the details make this tool a joy to use. For example, it's easy to get straight to the source code of a file, yet still see some of its recent history right on the same page. And, you can flip through revisions of a file with just a click. Stay tuned as the tool matures and evolves into something even more exciting in the months ahead.

I don't know about Dogbert, but I find this new feature extremely useful and is what I would normally do offline, after I download anything off the SVN. A look at the Google Gears SVN makes an interesting read. It is really a nice addition to make and its pretty fast with all the AJAX stuff with jQuery. Google congratulates Jason Robbins and Jenan Wise who added this feature and we would like to add to the congratulations!!

Intel Works With 'Water Inside'

If you thought the guys from Intel wearing white astronaut-like suits and dancing was as stupid as Intel marketing could get, then you are for a surprise. Intel TV ads got even worse, when I saw their Centrino advertisement today. Instead of 'Centrino Inside' ...they should call it 'Water Inside'.

Intel is showing an advertisement on Indian television channels which shows that an assembly line equipment sprays colored-water at the back of an Intel chip and fits it into a laptop. The laptop then displays all the colored elements of GUI in a more vivid manner. Actually, the advertisement is meant to celebrate Holi, a festival of color and water in India. But when a chip manufacturer shows spraying water on its processors brings out better colors, its surely a little hard to digest.

And that brings me to the point whether Intel processors are water-proof and water-resistant. To try it out, I poured some colored-water on the pins of the processor and pinned it on my motherboard. I plugged the PC on... and BOOM... I had just burnt and blasted the Centrino!!

I'm still trying to find that TV on Youtube, but no one's uploaded it yet... May be I'll need to record it and upload it... Will do it as soon as they have it showing again!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Google Space - Please Point-out the Aliens??

Google launched a new webpage called Google Sky, to do some space watching (Shouldn't it be called Google Space ?). Earlier Google Sky was part of the desktop application of Google Earth, but now with the efforts of Diego Gavinowich and other Google developers, Google Sky has been brought to the webpages.

GoogleSky

Just like Google Earth and Maps, Google Sky's interface is the same zoom, move around. But Google Sky has got Infrared, Microwave, and Historical viewing options. Nice to look through those different views. Other things include images from Hubble, Chandra, Galex, Spitzer. Really nice images if you like astronomy and sky watching like me. Google Sky can also be used as an educational tool by school professors to explain the Solar system, which is shown through another section of Google Sky.

Now if only some one can make a thing like Wikimapia.org, where users can create there own listings on Google Earth images. Wikimapia really helps find places around a place with users labelling the places. I really want someone to show me where the aliens live. Then, I can keep looking at those planetary bodies and announce whenever an alien ship sets sail for Earth!! And as for other places around Earth, I've tried looking at Mars & Moon, but couldn't find aliens there :(

Can Developers Decide iPhone Vs Android ??

Its exciting to see the amount of work that is going into mobile phone world. Google wants to be at the helm of things in the future of mobile devices and   Android is its bet to conquer the mobile world. Rich Miner, manager for mobile platforms at Google was speaking at the Emerging Communications Conference and said that Android will Outshine iPhone. Only time will tell if Google's belief in Android will be true, but let us analyse how the competitive environment of Android and iPhone will look like.Android Vs iPhone

Apple's iPhone is a phenomenon. It sold about 4 million units in its first seven months of release and is grabbing market share in the US smartphone market unlike any other previous mobile phone. Even with a closed platform, where installing apps was an issue and developing apps for the iPhone was a reverse-engineering experiment, it still managed to make all those sales. Just goes to show what good design and "Apple sleekness" can do!! The latest release of the iPhone SDK brings in a new paradigm to the iPhone, where developers will be making new apps that can be downloaded from the "Apple App Store". Apple said last week that more than 100,000 downloads of the SDK were done and if this is any indication then we can surely expect some interesting apps for the iPhone.

On the other hand we have Google Android which was announced at 3GSM last year. Google Android is a software platform and there isn't any device in the market that currently implements it. The SDK has been downloaded over 750,000 times and Google is offering $10 million in prizes as part of its "Android Developers Challenge" for innovative applications. The response to the competition and design wins from Motorola, HTC, Samsung and others, may be one reason why Google may be confident about its position that Android may outshine iPhone.

But the question to ask here is whether just having good apps decide the winner?? iPhone has made its sale till date only on the pre-installed apps. This goes to show the mobile phone matters. The iPhone User-Interface has been innovative, but the same can't be said about Android at the moment. How it will be implemented by the handset manufacturers will also be another reason to decide the winner in this battle. Google Android being free, open-source will definitely help keep the price of the handset down compared to the expensive iPhone, but will price be enough to win this battle??

Developers may create great apps, but the users are going to decide the winner of this battle. Lets wait and watch the fun!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Google Wants All Your Videos

Google's YouTube has announced today that it will be releasing its API for YouTube for use by web developers. Earlier, users were required to go to the YouTube website and upload videos or read/write comments on videos. With the release of the API by Google, users can upload videos, write and display YouTubelogocomments on their own website.

Today's announcement allows Google to fulfill its goal of Google video, which was to bring all the videos on the web to its servers. With the release of the API, people will host the videos on YouTube's servers and still be able to access the content like their own. Google in return will be able to get a lot of videos and many users to watch the videos. It will allow Google to show its ads to a larger audience as well as improve search results on videos.

YouTube already owns a lot of the videos floating on the web. But with other alternatives like Blip.tv, DailyMotion, FlickLife... catching up, this announcement is sure to bring back a lot of web publishers to YouTube and in turn Google. Adsense for Video is also not doing as well as Google might have anticipated. This decision of allowing people to upload to Google's servers will allow Google to bring more targeted ads.

It should be an interesting development with what people will come up with YouTube's API. You can actually come up with an exact clone of YouTube.com without any investment...but I guess Google would be waiting to sue you!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Control Your Computer From the Brain at $159

OCZ had recently shown the NIA (Neural Impulse Actuator) and had told that they have started mass production for the device. The NIA is a special device which EEG (electroencephalograph) signals into keystrokes and simulates the functioning of a mouse. Upon proper configuration, the NIA will allow users to control PC games without the use of a keyboard and minimal use of a mouse.

The TGDaily reports that the NIA may be available in the US for $159 and it seems a very good price to pay for a niche and futuristic device like this. The NIA isn't the first device to use brain sensing. Another device known as the Emotiv's EPOC also has similar functionality, but uses a different technology. The EPOC can understand facial expressions and detect congnitive actions like pushing, pulling etc.

The NIA is definitely going to change the experience of playing games just like the Wii did with its motion controller. But the motion controller is not even half as futuristic as the NIA. Producing enough of these devices will be challenge for OCZ in the coming months, just like Nintendo has with producing Wii. Although the NIA is a little expensive for an input device, its lot more than an input device...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Download Firefox 4 & Give Feedback

While everyone has got into the race for ACID3, the guys from Firefox team have released Firefox 4 (aka MineField) in pre-Alpha stage of development. If you want to have a look at the future of Firefox, then download the pre-alpha from here and give your valuable feedback to the Mozilla Dev Team.

Although the site warns you:

Warning: This is NOT A FINAL OR PRE-RELEASE VERSION. This program is provided without any guarantees of stability, so please use it at your own risk. It is recommended that you back up your profile regularly, as there may be bugs that corrupt your data. If that sounds scary, you'd probably be better off with the latest version of Firefox

Trunk builds change every hour of every day. Some of the major changes in these builds that require feedback are:

  • Changes to the graphics layer
  • New data storage layer for bookmarks and history (using SQLite)
  • Extended search plugin format
  • Updates to the extension system to provide enhanced security and to allow for easier localization of extensions
  • Support for SVG text using svg:textPath
  • To get a list of the most recent additions, check out the Burning Edge weblog.

I like the new Bookmark system that MineField brings. It is more easier to manage when you have a lot of bookmarks. The address bar also has a new feature where it shows a lot of links automatically from the current page. This feature does help you when you can't remember that webpage you recently visited.

With Firefox 3, still not released as a final build, it seems odd that Minefield build has been released. I guess the developers want to start making Firefox 4 complaint with ACID3 and want everyone to look at it. It does score 67% on the ACID3...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Reasons Why Intel Atom Is Getting Press Coverage

Intel Atom, earlier known by its codename Silverthorne, has got a lot of press coverage lately. And the odd thing is that people have talked so much about it although it isn't seen inside any machines, no one knows its performance and Intel hasn't told which UMPCs will end up with this processor. Also its not a killer processor in terms of design or performance. Then why all the press coverage??

According to me, following are 5 reasons why the Intel Atom is getting so much press coverage:

4.) It's CeBIT Time:

The big trade show from Germany, CeBIT is being held and it's that time of the year when all the hardware journos want to write about something. Motherboard and the CeBIT lobby/booth images are the staple from CeBIT, but there is always buzz around one or two special products. Intel got it right and told the world about Intel Atom just before CeBIT. Journalists were just waiting to write about something and a new Intel product is just what the doctor ordered. Throwing in names are enough. So you have Silverthorne as Atom; another variant with higher TDP called Centrino Atom; another chipset name Poulsbo...

3.) Super Low Power:

Although the world does not know the exact performance of Intel Atom, Intel PR told that its a super low power chip. It claims a TDP of 0.6W - 2.5W, which is commendable. Its targeted towards the small devices where battery life is extremely important. But what about performance?? and what about the chipset power?? A new design and package, completely different set of devices - Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs). Its changing a lot of stuff...

2.) Intel Marketing Rocks:

Is there any tech company that can beat Intel in marketing? "Intel Inside" was the best one in the tech industry and Intel really sold many chips on the back of that campaign. Centrino is also another great one from Intel. The same has to be said about Intel Atom. Codenames on the processor started coming early and the hype was created. Then came the design goals and the target market for the chip. Then slowly info trickled on its architecture and then the logo and roadmap. Perfect information release timing and just about perfect marketing. 

1.) Who Via ??:

If Via was a slightly bigger name and had the same marketing strength, then I guess the Intel Atom story would have been played down. The VIA Isaiah is a great CPU with excellent performance and good power usage. The Centaur (a Via design-lab) guys have an out-of-order processor which is lot more powerful than the Intel Atom. They are targeted at different power usages, but Via could have waited for an Intel announcement and got back at Intel like AMD used to do at IDF. Via didn't do much to publicize and Intel Atom got the coverage.

Tata Indicom Not Allowed To Sell Blackberry

The Economic Times reports that the Home Ministry has not allowed Tata Teleservices ("TataIndicom" brand) to give Blackberry services to its customers. Tata Teleservices wanted to provide Blackberry services to its customer along with Blackberry devices and hence had sent an application to the Department of Telecom (DOT). But the Home Ministry has rejected the application with an explanation that Blackberry devices do not allow lawful interception of messages.

The Indian Home Ministry has a law where telecom operators can be asked to intercept messages from any mobile phone and the operators have to comply. The push email, data services in RIM's Blackberry devices are encrypted and secure which prevents the operator from understanding the messages (look here). But the question which Tata Teleservices has asked the DOT is that if this is the case, then how come other telecom providers (read BPL-Mobile, Airtel...) can provide Blackberry services. Obviously, the government was sleeping when they allowed those service providers and suddenly caught with its pants down, it ordered other service providers for an explanation.

The situation just goes to show the incompetence of government agencies and it is plain ridiculous to ban the Blackberry. Webmail using gmail, yahoo etc is also encrypted and the ISP has no idea what emails are being sent. Technology is moving towards a point where any data exchange needs to be encrypted. I know atleast 40-50 people around me who are using Blackberry and business email on the Blackberry is their life... The government should come to terms with technology and then make decisions!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Win A Zune, Xbox 360 or Home Server For Evaluating Products

Microsoft has just released a program called Evalu'08, where you can evaluate Microsoft Server products and win a server for your home. All you need to do is download and evaluate any of the 3 products which Microsoft launched recently. Download a free trial of any of the launch products or take a virtual lab and be entered for a chance to win great prizes.

The program is educational in some sense if you consider marketing speak to be informative. You can attend the virtual labs for a host of products and win the prizes. Alas! the rules state that its open only to legal residents of the 50 U.S. (includes D.C.) 18+ employed in an IT or software development role.

The prizes for the lucky draw is either a Zune, if you evaluate 1 product; an Xbox360 if you evaluate 2 products or Windows Home Server if you evaluate 3 products. The contest page requires you to have Silverlight installed and you need a live ID to signin.

Race to ACID3 Just Began

Just when you downloaded the latest beta of IE8 and thought the web was becoming a standard complaint world, the guys from Web Standards Project  just changed the rules of the game. The guys behind the famous ACID tests, called WaSP have just launched the latest version of their test called ACID3 and to no one's surprise, every browser out there fails the test.

Just like previous versions of the ACID2 test, with this version no browser seems to pass the test. About 3 years after the release of ACID2, Microsoft's IE8 passed the test and everyone clapped. But now to their sadness, they have to deal with ACID3 to claim they are standards compliant.

According to WaSP:

Acid3 goes beyond the CSS tests implemented by Acid2 and tests a browser’s DOM Scripting capability, as well as continuing to probe visual rendering of CSS, SVG and webfonts. Further information can be found on the Acid3 page, in the press release, or you can just go ahead and take the test.

Safari was the first web browser to pass the test, with the passing version 2.02 released on October 31, 2005. This time, the race has already begun and everyone from the browser development team wants to be the first to complete the ACID3. You can look at the current state of browser wars on ACID3 here. The latest build of Safari (Webkit) with 87% compliance is already the leader in this race. 100% compliance is really the finish point and you never know which team can suddenly use NOS and win the race.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Microsoft's Next-Gen OS Research is Open-Source Now

Microsoft has been researching on operating systems for sometime now and manufacturers the most popular operating system in the form of Windows. But most of the research that goes into Windows is unknown to the rest of the world. Most people bash Microsoft of being very secretive and people from the open-source world often criticize Microsoft for this. But today Microsoft has done what many people believe is impossible. Microsoft has released their operating system research to be used in future as an open-source project. And the project is called Singularity.

The name Singularity does sound like some path-breaking theory in physics. In the world of operating systems, Microsoft's Singularity is sort of path-breaking. Microsoft announced Singularity about 2 years back and had started thinking about it 3 years before the announcement. After 5 years of research, today Microsoft released Singularity with source-code to codeplex, which is Microsoft's open-source community repository.

Singularity in theory looks to be very promising. It uses a microkernel architecture, which means the kernel is really very small and contains only very few services/managers. There was much long debate between Minix Vs Linux on microkernel Vs monolithic kernel without result. I side with Minix and this with PCs getting faster we need more stability than performance. But I guess that is part of a different discussion altogether. The following image shows the architecture of Singularity OS.

 

I have just finished downloading the Singularity RDK (Research Development Kit) from here, and will be installing it on Virtual PC.

Microsoft launches Visual Studio 2008, Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 in Mumbai

Microsoft has been running a campaign called "Heroes happen here" as part of the launch of 3 major products from the 27th February all over the world. The HeroesHappenHere launch of Visual Studio 2008, Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 is supposed to be the largest software product launch from Microsoft ever and covers  the most important tools which Microsoft sells to developers and businesses. The campaign reached Indian shores yesterday at Bangalore and today the launch party reached Mumbai. The Mumbai launch about which I had blogged earlier was held today at Regal Theatre from 10am.

gaurav Microsoft's odd selection of a movie theatre for the launch of its product was explained VJ Gaurav Kapoor, who played the host to today's Microsoft party. Microsoft explains that developers who use Microsoft products create technology that can help change lives and play heroes in today's world of technology. "Like film heroes, this party is to celebrate their success story and what better place than a movie theatre to showcase heroes", said Gaurav Kapoor.

Microsoft has also created a song for the event, which was quite peppy I may add and definitely better than the "Vista Wow Song"!! A group of young dancers came up to the stage and performed on the song..DSC01347.

S.Somasegar, Senior VP at Microsoft started the keynote and mentioned all the new things that Microsoft brings with these new products. He talked about the upcoming Dynamic IT (read here) and how these products launched today are going to help reach that goal. He also talked about Virtualization being one of the primary goals and future technology in the IT world. A small demo on virtualization was also shown. I would have loved to ask why Hyper-V is still in beta (won't be out-of-the-box feature) and why understanding that the market needed virtualization took so much time for Microsoft. Alas! they didn't have a Q&A session.

 

Then there was a presentation on new features of SQL Server 2008. With SQL Server 2008, Microsoft brings a lot features that it lacked in previous versions. New Large User DataTypes, Data/Time Datatype, Spatial Data are some new things for SQL Server 2008, but have existed in other database systems like Oracle for sometime now. SQL Server 2008 didn't seem to me as a revolutionary product compared to the competition, but adds much needed features to this product line. A few SQL Server 2008 benchmarks do tell us that performance has improved considerably. SQL Server 2008 is actually not going to be released now. Microsoft is still testing it and adding last few touches. It will RC sometime in Q2 '08 and will be released in Q3 '08

DSC01348Visual Studio 2008 was the next product that Microsoft talked about. Microsoft has done some hard work with Visual Studio 2008 and from the audience reaction at the product demo and technical presentations, it seems they have a winner. A lot of new features from ASP.NET were shown and out-of-the-box AJAX controls were shown. Time was running out and everyone was waiting for lunch... but I added to everyone's pain by requesting Harish (the speaker) to demo how to create an app with Silverlight. He obliged by explaining to the audience about Silverlight and its CLR and demo'd a small button animation. The audience loved it and everyone clapped. Silverlight seems to be an interesting proposition and Expression Blend 2 is turning out to be a good product so early in the game. Flash tools still are better, but Silverlight v2.0 with C# is more powerful compared to ActionScript or Flex.

Windows Server 2008 was the last to be introduced. It has a host of new features and IIS 7.0 was the main part which Microsoft highlighted. A few other things like WMS, failsafe clustering, Sharepoint services were also mentioned. Large part of the demo featured on how easy it was to manage the different services and talked about the small "core" of services that were enabled by default. Improved Security was also discussed to some extent and Microsoft said it was one of the main priorities in Windows Server 2008.

After lunch Microsoft showed the movie, "Transformers" to the audience and everyone attending the event left smiling with some goodies in a bag. The goodie bag contained lots of PR material and partner information. A 90-day evaluation DVD for Visual Studio Team System 2008 and Windows Server 2008 RC were part of the goodies. Having already played with Windows Server 2008 during the beta testing, these weren't exactly goodies for me. But all in all the event was fun, but I didn't wait to watch the movie!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Nokia To Ship Silverlight on Mobiles

Nokia announced today that it will be installing Silverlight on S60, S40 and Nokia internet tablets. Silverlight is Microsoft's technology to create rich internet applications (RIA) similar to Adobe's Flash. By adding Silverlight to its phones, Nokia thinks that it can get a lot of developers to start off on its S60 & S40 platforms. Nokia already ships Flashlite with its mobile phones which is used to run applications made in Flash and Silverlight will be a direct competition to Flashlite.

Microsoft is pushing Silverlight as the next generation platform for developing rich internet applications and has promised it to be completely cross-platform and available on a host of different platforms including Linux and Mac. Today's announcement from Nokia proves that Microsoft is truly committed to make Silverlight applications usable from a host of devices.

Earlier, when Microsoft created the .NET framework it had mentioned platform-independence as one of its feature. Although this was true from a programming language point of view, Microsoft does not release the full .NET Framework Runtime on all platforms. Other projects like Mono help run .NET apps on Linux. On the other hand, although Silverlight is based on .NET it uses a different CLR (Common Runtime Environment). Silverlight CLR is like a browser plugin and is showing progress on becoming true cross-platform technology.

Silverlight is based on C#, which makes it easy for developers with knowledge of C# to move to programming mobile RIAs. Also, Microsoft is ready with Silverlight v2.0. All of this just goes to show that Microsoft is moving really fast to capture the mobile phone market. It still has a lot to do with Silverlight and one of its current missions would be to get other handset manufacturers on the Silverlight bandwagon.

The mobile internet world is really hotting up with Google also bringing Gears to mobile phones. I'm sure Adobe will add new features to Flashlite in the coming months. If you are a web developer and want to get your apps into mobile phones, this is your time!!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Scrapkut Worm Running Loose on Orkut

I'm sure a lot of Orkut users have seen the image shown below in their scrapbooks or their friend's scrap book. If you have seen it, then hold your temptation. Do not click on it because although it may seem to you like a YouTube video, its actually link that downloads a worm. The worm now known as the W32.Scrapkut by Symantec has created that scrap and wants to spread itself through your friendly orkut network.

Scrapkut

Symantec's website dug deeper into the worm and explains on how the worm intends to spread itself.

When a victim clicks on the link, they are redirected to an external site which prompts them to download the file “flashx_player_9.8.0.exe”. When executed, flashx_player_9.8.0.exe retrieves the files windosremote.exe, logservicess.exe and win32chekupdate.exe from http://[REMOVED].ifastnet.com. These files download additional files that perform a variety of malicious actions, but logservicess.exe is the main executable for further propagation. Logservicess.exe first copies itself as maindwxp.exe to four different locations on the system to ensure it is executed on startup.... [read more]

Hopefully you have not yet succumbed to the temptation and clicked the image. The problem is not just for you, but for all your friends on the orkut network. And if you have already experienced the worm, pass on the info to your friends so that they don't get infected. Social networks is going to be the next big target for hackers and worm writers. Tread with caution is the best advice at the moment!!

List of Programs That Don't Work With Vista SP1

Microsoft has done a lot of work with Vista SP1, so much so that a lot of security programs don't work properly with SP1 although they used to work with Vista RTM. Kernel changes and some networking tweaks are basically the reasons why these programs aren't working. The list may not be completely exhaustive, but Microsoft's Support Center lists these programs.

Programs that are blocked from starting after you install Windows Vista SP1

  • BitDefender AV or Internet Security 10
  • Fujitsu Shock Sensor 2.1.0.0
  • Jiangmin KV Antivirus 2008 or v10
  • Zone Alarm Security Suite 7.1.078

Programs that do not run after you install Windows Vista SP1

  • Iron Speed Designer 5.0.1
  • Xheo Licensing 3.1
  • Free Allegiance 2.1

Programs that have a loss of functionality after you install Windows Vista SP1

  • NYT Reader v1
  • Rising Personal Firewall 2007
  • Novell ZCM Agent 10.01

There may be other programs that Microsoft has not identified and still have problems with Vista SP1. A few programs may also not display the incompatibility dialogs, but may contain potential issues with Vista SP1. If you are using any of the above products and have problems then, Microsoft's list with explanation and solutions can be found here.