Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mozilla's Rapid Release Schedule for Firefox Comes Under Scrutiny

Mozilla FirefoxMozilla's new rapid release schedule for its Firefox internet browser, which was created as a positive thing for the company, has come under a lot of scrutiny in the past few weeks and even more fuel was added to the fire over the weekend to make things even worse.

The criticism this time came from a former volunteer for the project, Tyler Downer. Downer recently left the project after three years after becoming increasingly frustrated with what he describes as a "broken" triage process for finding and fixing bugs.

According to a blog post from Downer, "Triage as we know it today is NOT ready to handle the Rapid Release process." Under the old model, with which a new major version of the browser would be released once every year, "triage had a bit more time to go through a massive pile of bugs to find regressions and issues, and there was a pretty good chance that most bugs would get caught just because we had time on our side, and we could afford to miss a bug for six weeks, because we would most likely get around to it," Downer added.

However, Downer asserts that with the new, faster process, triage has been caught off guard. "We currently have 2,598 [unconfirmed] bugs in Firefox that haven't been touched in 150 days. That is almost 2,600 bugs that have not been touched since Firefox 4 was released. And how many more bugs have been touched but not really triaged or worked on? Every day this number grows."

Despite his comments, however, Downer did make a point to note that he wasn't criticizing the rapid release process itself. "I love the idea of rapid release. Rapid release is going to be awesome if done properly. I have always been so frustrated by the continual late releases that hold back awesome new features from the web."

In addition to that, Downer also added that he doesn't think the situation is hopeless. "I have been in talks over the past few days, and I see a good possibility that Mozilla means business in improving triage." However, when Downer decided to leave, it was due to a general lack of interest in doing anything substantial to improve the triage process.

Source: PC World - Firefox's Rapid Release Schedule Draws More Blame

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Monday, August 22, 2011

HP Launches New Compaq 8200 Elite All-In-One PC

HP Compaq 8200 EliteJust a few days after announcing that it was planning to shut down its PC business, HP has launched an all new all-in-one desktop aimed specifically at business customers.

Branded the HP Compaq 8200 Elite, this computer comes with a 23-inch HD LED display as well as your choice of either Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate or Home Premium as your operating system.

While all-in-one computers like this aren't really breaking stories, this one is a bit of a surprise given HP's previously reported stance on computers. HP announced last week that it would discontinue its TouchPad tablet and basically shutter its WebOS operation.

In addition to that, HP also stated that it is looking to find a new direction for its PC business, the Personal Systems Group (PSG), as it refocuses the attention of its business around software solutions instead.

According to a statement that was recently released by HP, "HP will consider a broad range of options that may include, among others, a full or partial separation of PSG from HP through spin-off or other transactions."

The HP Compaq 8200 Elite is the first device from the company to use Intel's second generation Core vPro technology in order to boost performance and hard drive access. Moreover, the device comes with a one year license to HP Virtual Rooms which allows you to set up online conference centers for meetings or presentations.

The HP Compaq 8200 Elite will also come with up to 8GB of memory, the option of solid state drives and hardware-based encryption. Employees will also find an integrated webcam as well as integrated speakers with SRS premium sound.

The HP Compaq 8200 Elite all-in-one computer is available now for a starting price of $999. This price nets you an Intel Pentium dual-core G850 processor as well as all the other standard features.

Source: CNET - Sweeping changes don't halt HP all-in-one PC launch is news of, for and by SMBs! The Small & Medium Business Magazine!

Friday, August 19, 2011

IBM Develops Computer Chip That Acts Like a Brain

iRobot NS-5Artificial Intelligence is something that science fiction movie directors love to utilize. Many directors have envisioned a future with robots and things that can act and behave like humans. However, something like that has always been out of reach for us, until now.

IBM recently introduced a new experimental neurosynaptic computer chip that emulates brain function in areas like cognition, perception and action. According to statements from IBM, these new chips will use algorithms and silicon circuitry in order to recreate spiking neurons and synapses in the brain.

These new chips will be embedded into cognitive computers. These computers will not be programmed to do certain actions, like the computers you and I use everyday. Instead, these devices will learn through experiences., create hypotheses and remember outcomes.

According to Project Leader for IBM Research Dharmendra Modha, "These chips are another significant step in the evolution of computers from calculators to learning systems, signaling the beginning of a new generation of computers and their applications in business, science and government."

The chips are being designed and created by IBM, who is working alongside multiple university collaborators. DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has already awarded $21 million in funding to IBM for the research as part of Phase 2 of the Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics, or SyNAPSE (I hope they pay their anagram creators handsomely) project.

SyNAPSE is a project that was designed to create a computer system that will analyze complex information from multiple sensors and adapt itself automatically based on its interaction with the environment. Regardless, this technology is extremely impressive and, albeit, rather scary. If they are already making computer chips that can think, I wonder how long it will be before they make ones that will subsequently take over humanity? I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Source: Government Technology - IBM Computer Chip Mimics Human Brain Function

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Firefox 6 Ready for August 16 Release

Mozilla Firefox 6Mozilla states that it is on track to release Firefox 6 next week according to notes posted on the company's website. Developers have signed off on Firefox 6 and also anticipate no problems that could delay the release date of August 16 for the most recent upgrade to Mozilla's web browser according to meeting notes.

According to the notes, "On track with a few bugs still remaining. No concerns for Tuesday." Mozilla has used a new rapid-release schedule ever since the spring of this year. This new schedule delivers a new version of Firefox every six weeks, a move that many analysts and critics are comparing to the same one Google uses to update its Chrome browser for the last year.

Firefox 5 was released back on June 21, six weeks ago next Tuesday. Mozilla is already working on Firefox 7 and plans on releasing it on September 27. In addition to that, if the rapid-release schedule works like it is supposed to, Firefox 8 will become available on November 8 with Firefox 9 becoming available on December 20.

Firefox 6 includes multiple, noticeable changes to the browser, including highlighting domain names in the address bar. Both Google Chrome and Internet Explorer 9 do a similar thing by making domain names boldfaced. In addition to that, Firefox 6 also reduces start-up time when users rely on Panorama, the multi-tab organizer for Firefox.

Some users, however, are upset by the change of pace for Mozilla and Firefox including corporations like IBM, which have installed the open-source browser on tens of thousands of Windows PCs. However, that has not frightened Mozilla, who has not backed off of the rapid-release schedule at all. Though, in response to enterprise complaints and concerns, Mozilla has established a committee in order to take feedback from users.

As well as releasing Firefox 6 next week, Mozilla also plans on releasing Firefox 3.6.20, an update that will include security patches and other fixes to the 2010 edition retained by nearly 1 in 3 users of Firefox. When Firefox 6 ships, users running Firefox 4 or Firefox 5 will be offered the newest edition via the browser's update mechanism that is triggered when the "About Firefox" dialog is opened.

As of the end of July, only 11% of Firefox users were still running Firefox 4 and 48% were running Firefox 5. What do you think? Are you excited about the release of Firefox 6? What are your thoughts on Mozilla's new rapid-release schedule? Let me know in the comments section below.

Source: Computer World - Mozilla on track to ship Firefox 6 next week

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Monday, August 1, 2011

New Finger and Stylus Gestures Could Be Coming to Windows 8

Windows 8A lot of people are excited about the upcoming operating system from Microsoft known, as of right now, as Windows 8. Windows 8, or whatever it is named upon release, is the highly anticipated successor to the the immensely popular Windows 7 operating system currently out from Microsoft. However, some new developments are leaking their way onto the internet, including the fact that Microsoft has unveiled several patent filings that are pointing to new finger and stylus gestures that could be incorporated into Windows 8 tablets.

These patent filings were actually filed back in 2010 but Microsoft just published them last week. These new patents show that Microsoft believes finger and stylus gestures can work not only separately but together as well in order to offer a user-friendly means of input on new touch screen devices. This new method that would recognize both methods of input would recognize the first method as your finger and the second as your stylus. Using both your finger and your stylus could then create a variety of gestures, a lot of which seem to be geared more toward image editing though could be put to other uses as well.

For example, a copy gesture would allow you to tap on an object with your finger and then move it around with your stylus. A cut gesture would allow you to split an object in half using fingers, a stylus or both at the same time. A brush gesture would assist you in removing part of an image and then storing it somewhere else on the screen. A staple gesture may be used to stack multiple objects or images on top of each other and a stamp gesture would create duplicates of whatever you wanted.

The upcoming Windows 8 operating system for tablets was unveiled by Microsoft at the D9 Conference back in June. Microsoft is expected to release more information and details about the OS at the upcoming Build Conference in September, with a beta possibly ready for developers to test out at that time as well.

Source: CNET - Windows 8 could see new finger and stylus gestures

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