Linux on Refrigerators using Enlightenment

It is said that NetBSD is one of the most ported Operating Systems in the world. It runs on almost everything, from massive Servers to even a Toaster.

Well, Linux isn’t far behind !!!

Electrolux, a manufacturer or home and kitchen appliances, have decided to use Linux with Enlightenment, for their latest product, a smart refrigerator called Infinity I-Kitchen.

The Infinity I-Kitchen features a high-resolution touch-panel display and rich, intuitive user interface. Using this panel, it’s possible to visualize basic information like current and external temperature. Besides this, it has several applications like Notes, Calendar, Contacts, Recipes, etc. You can see how this is the modern version of magnets holding up notes on our refrigerators.

Besides these, the Photos application converts the touch-panel into a digital photo-frame. I think this is a really cool feature considering the hardware.

Electrolux Touch Panel Display 1Electrolux Touch Panel Display 2

The hardware used is a Freescale i.MX25 processor running at 400Mhz with 128 MB RAM. The display panel will have a resolution of 480×800.

The awesome thing about this is that the rich user interface is rendered completely in software as there is no hardware accelerator on the device. This feat is achieved using the Enlightenment library suite also known as Enlightenment Foundation Libraries(EFL). The  Enlightenment suit contains libraries like Evas, Edje and Elementary which gives the rich look and feel to the user interface.

This marks as a very important development for Linux since Electrolux is one of the first mainstream consumer electronics companies to have embrace Linux in a high-end product.

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MySpace trying to get back in the Game

Today morning when I started the usual purge of my over-crowded Inbox, I saw an invitation mail from MySpace.com

MySpace Email 1

My first reaction was : Wow !! GMail did not catch this as SPAM ? That itself should be a compliment enough for MySpace.

Admittedly, I have not visited MySpace.com for over , I don’t know, a Century now ! But who has ?

So excuse me for not being sure if the “New” MySpace look and feel is different from the older one.

As can be seen from the Email promos, MySpace has a host of new features like Discovery Tools, Sync tools, Earn badges, Personalised streams, etc.

It’s like the MySpace team decided to take one feature from all the top Social Networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, etc.

Now all I have to do is muster enough “I give a fuck” to actually check what these are all about.

MySpace Email 2

I remember there was this dialogue in the new movie “The Social Network” (psst!! It’s NOT about MySpace) , where Mark Zuckerberg asks Winklevoss’ what’s so different about their proposed project, The Hardvard Connection ? “How is it any different from MySpace or Friendster ?” .

It seems to me that MySpace might have taken than comment way too seriously and decided that they would try and get back in the “game”.

But anyways, all jokes apart, I have to atleast give credit to MySpace for trying to re-invent themselves even after so many years. Their supposed “New look” does look decent. But what I could make out from some screenshots, I hope the User pages are not clones of the “Wall”.

Also, I honestly don’t remember when they changed their logo, but I like the current one.

Here’s wishing luck to MySpace. And just out of curiosity, will you go and revive your MySpace account or sign-up for a new one ?

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Oracle OpenSolaris 11 Express Released

On November 15th, Oracle, the new owner of Solaris, announced the availability of Oracle Solaris  Express 2010.11

This new release has a considerable number of features which were not present in either OpenSolaris (understandably) as well as Oracle Solaris 10.

Some of these key features are :

  • Networking virtualization and resource management capabilities that increase throughput, speed up applications, and reduce network loads and complexity.
  • ZFS enhancements for file and block de-duplication, encryption and provisioning.
  • Fast Reboot, which allows customers to recover systems and databases in tens of seconds verses tens of minutes.
  • Leading edge patching, upgrade and installation capabilities designed to reduce risk and greatly simplify the most common system administrator tasks.
  • A built in snapshot facility that always keeps a backup of the system boot image and allows customers to revert back to the old version with a simple reboot.

For more details on this release, check-out the official Oracle Solaris Express 11 page here

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Android 2.0 : The Eclair Release

With Verizon’s Droid all slated for a release next month, it will be releases with the latest Android Release, “Eclair“.

Going with their tradition of  naming their major Release after pastries, Android 2.0 seems to be feature filled.

Some of the interesting features I feel are as follows :

  • Microsoft Exchange support
  • Digital Zoom and In-build Flash support in the Camera
  • Support for HTML5 in the browser
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • Several new developer APIs.

You read more about the 2.0 SDK and how to sync it with your current SDK here.

A complete  list of features is also present here.

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WifiDirect for peer-to-peer communication

The Wifi Alliance, the international Wireless LAN standards body has announced work on a specification titles “Wifi Direct”  or “Wifi peer-to-peer“, that will allow devices to connect to each other as a Wifi network without the need of an Access Point (AP).

Traditionally, an AP is used to broadcast the SSID of a Wifi network, which is used by Wireless Clients like Mobile phones, Laptops, etc. to connect to that network (provided they have the required credentials). The AP thus forms an important component in the Wifi network environment.

However, with the new announcement from the Wifi Alliance, the Wifi devices will be able to connect to each other directly using the same Wifi technology. Thus two laptops or mobile phones can be connected to each other wirelessly without the need of an AP in between them.

This is a tremendously advantageous situation as it eliminates the “middle-man” (AP) and lets the devices talk to each other directly. This will be similar to connecting two laptops via a single Ethernet cable, except, there will be NO CABLE !!!

Now, there already existed a couple of ways to do this earlier.

One way was to configure the Wifi driver in “Ad-hoc” mode as opposed to the “Infrastructure” mode. This meant that two laptops could connect to each other wirelessly. However, this mode was not present in all devices. As a result, a laptop and mobile phone , or a network printer could not directly talk to each other. Besides, most people are unaware of such a mode and not all wifi configuration interfaces in all the devices exposed this mode. Finally, this mode allows one two laptops to connect to each other. With Wifi Direct, the number of Wifi devices can connect simultaneously to form a single network.

The second method does not serve the same purpose, i.e., it is not used to connect two devices for data transfer amongst them. It is called Wireless Mesh networks. With Wifi Mesh networks, a client is converted into a partial AP, which is able to connect to a AP on the upstream and able to let other clients connect to it in the downstream. Again, this required a speical Wifi mode to be configured in the driver called Wireless Distributed Systems or WDS. One major drawback of this is reduced bandwidth due to the “sharing” nature of the network. With Wifi Direct, the bandwidth remains intact.

Wifi Direct or peer-to-peer technology would come as a direct competition to other industry standard, viz, Bluetooth 3.0, which utilizes the Bluetooth technology for connecting the devices and the 802.11 protocol for data transfer thereby increasing the bandwidth of bluetooth transfers considerably.

With devices recieving certification for this technology sometime in mid-2010, the Wifi Alliance promises to announce the specification as soon as possible “upon completion”.

Personally I think this was long expected. I would have thought peer-to-peer would have been a part of the original 802.11 standards. Oh well ! Better late than never !!

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Nokia buys Symbian

On 24th June, Nokia made it’s plans clear to buy the remaining 40% in the leader in mobile OS, Symbian.

Since, Nokia handsets have been using Symbian’s S60 (and other previous versions) OS for quite some time now, this seems like a brilliant strategic and a logical move from Nokia.

But the best part is that Nokia plans to go ahead and open the souce for the Symbian OS and “hand it over” to the Symbian Foundation, a non-profit initiative of industry leaders like Texas Instruments, Vodafone, Samsung, LG, etc.

Kudos Nokia !!! Great work !

I think this was an exemplary behaviour from Nokia and one that other industry leaders who are out there on a buying spree, can  learn a lesson from.

An interesting interview with Dr. Jaaksi, Nokia’s director of open source, reveals that this move will in no way hamper Nokia’s indulgence in it’s Linux strategies. Nokia already has four MIDs with Linux on it, viz., the 770, N800, N810 and the new Wimax enabled N810. All these are based on Maemo, an open platform based in Linux, for MIDs which competes with Android and LiMo.

Our goal is to have the same UI on both Linux and Symbian, and the Qt platform lets us move forward toward that, with its cross platform technolgy” says Dr. Jaaksi.

And this is very much possible since Nokia has also earlier acuired  Trolltech, which builds cross-platform UI’s based on the Qt platform. Dr.Jaaksi also goes on to reveal that Nokia has no intentions of having Linux on any of it’s smartphones. Maan !!! Granted that they have ben very successful with their current OSes on the smartphones, but by saying this , Dr.Jaaksi has confirmed my fear that there will NOT be a Linux OS on an Nokia handset, atleast in the near future.

All said and done, other executives within Nokia feel that open sourcing Symbian is not going to be a one day process. In fact, some claim that it will be not before 2010 that we will actually start seeing handsets with the open-sourced Symbian powering them.

I think all this had been great news for the open source community. I think Nokia, like Sun has realised that going the open source way is the best way not only for earning major brownie points with its geek customer-base, but also because they will end with some really good code.

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Wireless connectivity

Google , Comcast, Intel Capital, Time Warner Cable , Bright House Networks and Trilogy Equity partners have entered into an agreement to pool in about $3.2 billion dollars in a new wireless broadbaand company.

The new company, named Clearwire, is joint venture between Clearwire Corporation and Sprint Nextel Corporation. Both these companies have joined forces to combine their next-generation wireless broadband businesses.

This venture will churn out United State’s first nationwide wireless broadband network on the new WiMAX standard. This will be the first time that the consumers will experience a truly high-speed wireless mobile experiencen and will benefit a range of demographics from SME sector to public safety organizations to educational institutions throughout the US.

You can read more about the details and benefits of this venture here

This reminds me of Reliance’s promise of bringing broadband in India by 2008. Well !! It’s 2008 already and we are still waiting. Another forgotten promise (or shall we say a dream), was the one made by Maharashtra State Government and Intel to make Pune, India’s first (or complete) wireless city. I know the project was shelved by Intel after some tax issues with the government (CMIIW), but what really takes the cake is that a smaller ton like Mysore is already :wireless’ed”.

It shouldn’t take this long for IT heavy-weights like Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Gurgaon, Hyderabad and even Mumbai to gear up not only it’s broadband connectivity and speeds, i\but also provide wireless connectivity across the Metros.

Sometimes, from my old office at Deccan Gymkhana in Pune, I could see a SSID named(Unwire Pune) which would give us a fairly decent connectivity. We used to regularly use it for surfing when our local office network was down (don’t even bother asking why ), thinking that this was PMC’s initiative, But soon someone found out that this was just an Open SSID of some private firm and soon we all just stopped using it.

The point is, it’s high time that India is a “mid-bandwidth” nation.

We need to pull our act together …. and fast !!

There’s a need for speed here !! I would like to hear about new hotspots opening up everywhere in India. Why don’t all the big companies like TCS, HCL and Infosys spend this advertising surplus is sponsoring these hotspots ? And why just the IT companies. Pepsi could have a hotspot, in say, MG Road (in all the cities that have it).Maybe there could be an initiative for a collaborative project like FON too

With all the great lead we have in the IT sector, I hope suchinfrastructure problems don’t hold us down for long.

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Microsoft pledges

In what is called as a “bold” move, Microsoft announced strategic changes in Technology and Business practices to expand interoperability.

Microsoft
Microsoft

With this end in view, it plan’s to take serious action on the following four fronts :

1. Ensuring Open Connections : Microsoft will publish on its website documentation for all APIs and communication protocols for it’s high-volume products that are used by other Microsoft products. Developers can access this information freely and thus ensure that their products can connect to Microsoft’s high-volume products (like Windows Vista, Office 2007, Sharepoint, etc.)

2.Support industry standards : Microsoft will work with implementors of standards that it has used in it’s high-volume products , towards achieving robust, consistent and interoperable implementations.These will be documented and published on the their website free of cost , as well.

3. Data Portability : Microsoft will work towards giving users the choice for document formats and have APIs in Office 2007 to set these formats as default for all their applications .

4. Fostering community participation : Microsoft will extend and ongoing dialogue with customers, developers, industry as well as open source communities to promote interoperability.

Windows

Microsoft has already launched the Microsoft Interoperability portal with a view of promoting it’s new pledges.

Quite frankly, I find this whole affair a bit dubious. Microsoft has made similar claims before, only to point fingers later at Linux users for patent violations.

What do you guys think ?

Will Microsoft pull this one off ?

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Yahoo Officially Rejects Microsoft’s bid

I missed blogging about Microsoft’s unsolicited bid to acquire Yahoo. But since it was covered by most of the Tech blogs anyway and more importantly, since Iron Maiden does not start a world tour from a city near you often, I don’t feel too bad for the readers of my blog.

But here’s a post claiming Yahoo’s rejection of Microsoft’s offer, complete with Yang’s mail to “Yahoos” .

I personally thought Yahoo took a bit too long to respond to Microsoft’s offer. Yahoo can clearly make a good come back and redeem themselves in the Internet’s rat race. It has some great engineers and all they have to do is focus on innovation and not concentrate on defeating Microsoft or Google.

But, I think Microsoft will definitely come back with a counter-offer. They will not take NO for an answer this easily. But thats just my 2 cents. What do you feel Microsoft will do ?

More importantly, what do you think  should be Yahoo’s next move ?

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Acquisitions them all !!!

Check out this poster of all the acquisitions made by different Internet giants.

 WhoOwnsWhat

Read more about this madness HERE

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