Thursday, September 30, 2010

Google Street View Now Available in Ireland

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A big bone of contention in many countries, Google's Street View mapping service today goes live in Brazil, Ireland and Antarctica, meaning Street View now has a presence in all seven continents.
Launched in May 2007 in five US cities, the panoramic imaging service has gone on to map cities on every corner of the planet, attracting ire and admiration along the way.
Brian McClendon, vice-president of engineering at Google Earth and Maps, wrote on the company's blog: "We often consider Street View to be the last zoom layer on the map, and a way to show you what a place looks like as if you were there in person – whether you're checking out a coffee shop across town or planning a vacation across the globe. We hope this new imagery will help people in Ireland, Brazil, and even the penguins of Antarctica to navigate nearby, as well as enable people around the world to learn more about these areas." more

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

CCEnhancer Makes CCleaner Even Better

CCleaner is one of the most popular programs for cleaning up the extra files and leftover data on your PC. Although I haven’t had much use for it on my more modern PCs (Windows 7 apparently does its own maintenance regularly) I know I’ve used it in the past to restore friends’ older and somewhat abused PCs to a fresh and clean state, sometimes even dramatically boosting performance in the process.

But I did not know of this: CCEnhancer can add to CCleaner’s capabilities by providing support for hundreds of extra programs beyond those supported by default.

According to FreewareGenius, the add-on app supports 270 extra programs including things like Quicktime and Flash, for example, it works even as a portable app, offers 1-click operation and is simple to use. Nice - who knew? You can try CCenhancer for yourself, just download it from here. It’s free, but donations are accepted.

Panasonic Toughbook S9

Panasonic's Toughbook line hasn't only been impressing in extreme durability lately, but also in extremeweight-loss. Joining the 3.2-pound Tougbook C1, is the newest 12.1-inch Toughbook S9, which weighs just three pounds. And yes, Panny's claiming it's the lightest 12-incher with an optical drive, and our quick research seems to prove that claim right. Even more impressive is the power that's packed into the featherweight chassis -- it's got a Core i5-520M processor, 2GB of RAM, and a shock-mounted 320GB hard drive. Thought that Panasonic gave up the durability for that weightage? You'd be wrong -- the magnesium alloy case can still withstand a 2.5-foot operating drop, meets all the Mil Spec 810-G drop procedures, has a spill-resistant keyboard, and can take more than 220 pounds of pressure on its lid and base. It does sound great for when someone drops it off the airport security belt, but that's until you hear about the physical beating it'll take on your bank account -- it'll retail for $2,499. Yeah, we wish we had better news to end on, but perhaps the press release and pictures below will turn that frown upside down. More

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Netduino Plus

The two new Arduinos should spell good things for the Arduino heads out there, but meanwhile, on the other side of the tracks... Secret Labs is launching its .NET-friendly Netduino Plus, which adds Ethernet and microSD to a regular Netduino board (which in itself is a sort of high powered, Visual Studio-compatible Arduino, with a 32-bit 48MHz ARM7 processor, instead of Arduino's 8-bit number, but pin compatible with Arduino "shields"). Unfortunately, the networking code eats of a good majority of the board's already meager code storage and RAM, but you can always flash the original Netduino's firmware on here if you'd like. Right now the board is in a "public beta" while the firmware gets some extra tweaks, but you should be able to drop $60 on the final model by the holidays.

Buy a Netduino Plus from here...
Download development kit here...
See few sample projects here...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Microsoft Research Lab: Z3 - An Efficient SMT Solver

Z3 is a high-performance theorem prover being developed at Microsoft Research. Z3 supports linear real and integer arithmetic, fixed-size bit-vectors, extensional arrays, uninterpreted functions, and quantifiers. Z3 is integrated with a number of program analysis, testing, and verification tools from Microsoft Research. These include: Spec#/Boogie, Pex, Yogi, Vigilante, SLAM, F7, SAGE, VS3, FORMULA, and HAVOC. It can read problems in SMT-LIB and Simplifyformats.


Azure Throughput Analyzer

The Microsoft Research eXtreme Computing Group cloud-research engagement team supports researchers in the field who use Windows Azure to conduct their research. As part of this effort, we have built a desktop utility that measures the upload and download throughput achievable from your on-premise client machine to Azure cloud storage (blobs, tables and queue). The download contains the desktop utility and an accompanying user guide. You simply install this tool on your on-premise machine, select a data center for the evaluation, and enter the account details of any storage service created within it. The utility will perform a series of data-upload and -download tests using sample data and collect measurements of throughput, which are displayed at the end of the test, along with other statistics.

Currently rated

Thursday, September 23, 2010

U1 With Sunlight Viewable Screen

Remember Panasonic's Toughbook CF-U1? Yeah, so it's been a while (2008, in fact) since it was unveiledand then reviewed, which is exactly why Panny thought the time had come to update the rugged UMPC. Its Toughbook U1 has the same magnesium alloy chassis -- we're told it's still the most rugged Toughbook of them all -- but has been updated with "enhanced sunlight viewability." It's no PixelQi display, but the TransflectivePlus screen can be cranked up to 6000 nits for checking e-mails and other pertinent information in the bright light of day. Internally, the U1 has acquired a newer 1.6GHz Atom Z530 processor, 2GB of RAM, and a larger 64GB SSD with Windows 7. The optional two megapixel front-facing camera has also been tweaked with better auto-focus and white balance features. However, the updates aren't just hardware-based: screen icons have been enlarged, and there's a new virtual right click button and larger virtual keyboard with a zoom mode. Of course, military grade doesn't come cheap -- the street price has been set at whopping $2,799. That still makes it one of the most expensive Atom device out there, but then again can you really put a price on something that's Rammer-resistant? We didn't think so.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Microsoft Visual Programming Language: Kodu

Kodu is a new visual programming language made specifically for creating games. It is designed to be accessible for children and enjoyable for anyone. The programming environment runs on the Xbox, allowing rapid design iteration using only a game controller for input. Download

Programming as a Creative Medium

The core of the Kodu project is the programming user interface. The language is simple and entirely icon-based. Programs are composed of pages, which are broken down into rules, which are further divided into conditions and actions. Conditions are evaluated simultaneously.

The Kodu language is designed specifically for game development and provides specialized primitives derived from gaming scenarios. Programs are expressed in physical terms, using concepts like vision, hearing, and time to control character behavior. While not as general-purpose as classical programming languages, Kodu can express advanced game design concepts in a simple, direct, and intuitive manner. mor

Microsoft Research Labs: Joulemeter

Joulemeter is a software based mechanism to measure the energy usage of virtual machines (VMs), servers, desktops, laptops, and even individual softwares running on a computer.

Joulemeter estimates the energy usage of a VM, computer, or software by measuring the hardware resources (CPU, disk, memory, screen etc) being used and converting the resource usage to actual power usage based on automatically learned realistic power models.

Joulemeter can be used for gaining visibility into energy use and for making several power management and provisioning decisions in data centers, client computing, and software design.

The technology is especially helpful for IT leaders managing power management settings, PC users who wish to get fine grained visibility into their computing energy use, and enthusaist developers who wish to leverage power measurement for optimizing their software and hosted service design for power usage. The fundamental concepts behind how the technology works are available in this paper.

Download: A research preview, that allows advanced users to try out some of the features of the above technology is available for download. Please see the download page. This version supports only system energy metering (with break-downs for CPU, monitor, and disk), on Windows 7 machines.

A WattsUp power meter (WattsUp Pro with USB connection) is recommended for learning an accurate power model for your machine. The power meter can be shared among multiple machines and users as it is needed for only a few minutes per machine. The software will work without a power meter as well.

.NET Gadgeteer

Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer is a rapid prototyping platform for small electronic gadgets and embedded hardware devices. It combines the advantages of object-oriented programming, solderless assembly of electronics using a kit of hardware modules, and quick physical enclosure fabrication using computer-aided design.

Individual .NET Gadgeteer modules can be easily connected together to construct both simple and sophisticated devices. Each module adds some extra capabilities, such as the ability to display images, playback sounds, take pictures, sense the environment, communicate with other devices or enable user interaction.

The platform is built on the .NET Micro Framework, which allows small devices to be programmed in the C# language and make use of Visual Studio’s programming and debugging tools.

This powerful combination allows fully functional devices to be prototyped in a matter of hours rather than days or weeks. more

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Project Gustav: Immersive Digital Painting

Project Gustav is a realistic painting-system prototype that enables artists to become immersed in the digital painting experience. It achieves interactivity and realism by leveraging the computing power of modern GPUs, taking full advantage of multitouch and tablet input technology and our novel natural media-modeling and brush-simulation algorithms. Project Gustav is a great example of how Microsoft's research efforts are leading to exciting new technologies to support creativity.


Typically the experience of painting on a computer is nothing like painting in the real world. Real painting is actually a very complex phenomenon – a 3D brush consisting of thousands of individually deforming bristles, interacting with viscous fluid paint and a rough-surfaced canvas to create rich, complex strokes. Until fairly recently, the amount of computing power available on a typical home computer simply hasn't been sufficient to attempt simulating such a real-world painting experience in any detail. Project Gustav aims to leverage the increasing power of the PC and ever faster graphics processors and combine that with a natural user interface, to bring a rich painting experience to a wide audience including hobbyists and professionals alike. The result is a prototype system that contains some of the world’s most advanced algorithms for natural painting. more

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spyware and viruses: What's the difference?

Spyware and viruses: What is the difference?

Spyware and viruses are both malicious software, but they're different.Learn how, and how Microsoft Security Essentials can help protect you from both. Then find answers to these common questions about Microsoft Security Essentials:

Suspect you have a virus? Get help fast at our newVirus and Security Solution Center, and learnsteps that you can take to help remove it.

Microsoft Research Labs: Pex for fun


Pex for fun brings programming in C#, Visual Basic, and F# to your web browser. I found this today on Microsoft research Lab website and its very interesting. You should try this.

If you have never visited Pex for fun before, we suggest you follow the tutorial.

Is it just for fun? The full version of Pex integrates into Visual Studio, and can be launched from the command line as well. (Download, Documentation) Pex can explore an entire project at once and can automatically generate a comprehensive test suite of traditional unit tests.

What is a puzzle? Each puzzle is either a small program with a statement that is tricky to reach, or it is a Coding Duel, which is an interactive programming challenge. You can use Code Contracts and even write Parameterized Unit Tests.

What puzzles are there? Can I write my own? Pex for fun already has many puzzles; you can write your own puzzle starting from a puzzle template, and even turn it into a new Coding Duel (tutorial).

How does Pex work? Pex finds interesting input values by analyzing the behavior of the code, combining dynamic and static analysis, and using a constraint solver.

Can I use Pex for fun for teaching? Yes! Please follow our teaching tutorial.

Who created Pex for fun? Pex for fun was brought to you by the Pex Team, part of the Research in Software Engineering (RiSE) group at Microsoft Research.

I have more questions. You can discuss Pex for fun on our MSDN Forums for Pex, where you can also post your Permalinks to share them with other people.

I want to provide feedback. If you have found a bug, you can send a bug report directly to the Pex developers at You can also get in touch with the Pex developers for any other reason at

Friday, September 10, 2010

Get a Free Cyber-Security Book from MicrosofT

Parents and teens now have access to a free downloadable e-book from Microsoft called “Own Your Space,” which aims to instruct teens and other new internet users how to stay safe while online. Specifically, the book addresses common security threats like phishing scams as well as modern-day social issues like cyber-bullying and cyber-stalking.

LifeHacker recently reviewed the book and found it worth recommending, saying “it's difficult to write books for teenagers that don't fall into the ‘trying too hard to be cool’ trap, but Microsoft has done an admirable job.” Glowing praise indeed!

You can grab a free copy for yourself from here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Channel 9 App for Windows Phone 7

For all Channel 9 fans out there, here is an APP for Windows Mobile 7.
An independent Windows Phone developer, Sigurd Snørteland, has created an application for accessing news from Channel 9 on your Windows Phone 7 device. The app, “myChannel9,” will display news and videos from the site and will offers features like the ability to favorite a show, browse by tags or search by keyword. You’ll also be able to use the app to watch videos right on your device, whether in portrait or landscape mode. Screenshots and demo videos of the app are available now on Snørteland’s personal blog. He has also created an app called Wall Street, which, as the name implies, will focus on delivering stock-related information.