Google Summer of Code results

Google's Summer of Code results have been released. The mails were sent to all the applicants. Here is a breakdown on the mentoring organisations.
I got rejected for my Mambo Project. But I am planning to do something really useful this semester rather than sit idling around.


Introducing GNU/DOS 2005

GNU/DOS version 2005 was released today. GNU/DOS is a FreeDOS distribution for desktops which includes some FreeDOS utilities, much of the DJGPP suite including many GNU utilities, vim, Arachne, and OpenGEM. All code used in GNU/DOS is open-source or public domain with source. ISO images are currently available, and there are plans to produce commercial CDs very soon. Installation is currently difficult due to the lack of an open-source CD-ROM driver. For more information, go here.

Microsoft Office Formats Not Compatible With GPL

The royalty-free license under which Microsoft plans to make its upcoming new Office Open XML Formats widely available is incompatible with the GNU General Public License and will thus prevent many free and open-source software projects from using the formats, community officials say.

Total Conversion HL2 Mod

A comprehensive total conversion of the Half-Life 2 game has been released. Crafted by students from SMU's Guildhall, Eclipse is a beautiful change of pace from the average FPS. From the site: 'You play as a young Sorceress named Violet whose father went missing five years back. After learning the secrets of Telekinesis, you are teleported into Auld-Haven, a lush and fertile land where Violet grew up. Your objective is to return to Violet's home where she last saw her father years ago and dig up any clues to his whereabouts. In the broken down tower of her home you discover a journal left by her father. The journal unlocks a handful of secrets that ultimately leads you on a quest to find the ancient teleportation device - the Standing Stones.

Google to Challenge PayPal

According to a WSJ report (sub), Google is preparing to introduce an electronic payment system later this year, similar to that of PayPal. The service is code named Google Wallet.

Exact details of the search company's planned service are not known, the report said, but quoted people familiar with the matter as saying it could have similarities with PayPal, which allows consumers to pay for purchases on Web sites by funding electronic-payment accounts from their credit cards or checking accounts.

This could put a dent in eBay's revenue, with $233 million (23%) of its revenues in the first quarter, coming from PayPal. The move could also signal Google's desire to diversify its products and reduce its dependency on AdWords revenue, which accounts for 99% of the companies current earnings.

So how likely is Google Wallet to become a reality? Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor, said he believed the payment service would be launched soon.

In an interview, Mr. Wingo said he based his statement on questions from retailers with which his company works. Mr. Wingo said the retailers have asked him whether ChannelAdvisor would support the service, which some believe goes by the code name Google Wallet.

Could Google Auctions be too far behind?

For those of you without a WSJ sub, click here.


Google Trucks

The news may seem strange but this time Google is all ready to create a realistic 3D online version of San Francisco, and eventually some other major US cities.

This all will be done with the help of trucks equipped with lasers and digital photographic equipment. The trucks would drive along every San Francisco street using the lasers to measure the dimensions of buildings, to create a 3D framework onto which digital photos can be mapped..

The service will be much better than Amazon’s A9 service, which offers two-dimensional photos of buildings on US city streets.

One problem is that vehicles and people can block the automated laser and digital photo systems. This could be eliminated with a second pass, but Google wants to achieve results with a single run.

To this some dude suggested that they should use low flying airships instead.

I just hope to see Google Trucks in India soon…

Stanford CityBlock Project


Sun delays "Linux on Solaris" feature

Sun Microsystems had scheduled to release a feature in Solaris 10 - codenamed Project Janus - that would allow consumers to run Linux applications unmodified on Sun's operating system, but the feature is missing in OpenSolaris.

OpenSolarisInstead of bringing attention to the missing feature, Sun is emphasizing a related open-source project - named Xen - as an alternative. Janus - officially called the Linux Application Environment - takes Linux commands and translates them to Solaris so Linux programs can run unchanged on computers using x86 microprocessors, like Intel's Pentium and AMD's Opteron. This feature is part of Sun's strategy to compete against Linux.

Last year, Sun claimed that "Solaris 10 will be the only OS to run Solaris and native Linux binaries side-by-side with no modifications, providing customers with investment protection and broader access to applications written for both operating systems."

Sun had marketed the Janus feature as a helpful way to let users migrate from Linux in favor of Solaris. Originally seen as a migration tool, Sun seems to be looking towards running Linux side-by-side with their own version of Unix - Solaris.

Director of Solaris marketing for Sun Tom Goguen told News.com, "The interest in doing Linux applications on Solaris has been for migration. But when you talk about running certified data center applications, you're going to run that on the full stack of software that's been certified."

The open-source project "Xen" allows Linux and Solaris to run side-by-side on the same computer. Sun expects that the Xen feature will get wider use and provide more value to customers.

Sun still expects to offer and support Janus. The software was originally slated with a 2005 release date, but has been pushed back to 2006.

Read more posts regarding and here.

Google for Mobile devices

Google recently launched Google search for mobile applications. Here is the excerpt from the Google Blog
Since millions of people across the globe already use mobile phones like there's no tomorrow, we're launching Mobile Web Search in many languages. Try it the next time you visit Google on your mobile phone - you'll see a new option to search the Mobile Web. How different is it than standard web search? There are sites out there that have already been designed for your mobile phone, which makes them more navigable on the small screen. So we've created an index specifically for these sites. And so your phone can now be that much more useful.
Read more posts from other blogs about here.


Microsoft launches Acrylic against Photoshop

Microsoft has launched its first professional graphics tool. Its code name is Acrylic and the beta version, which is free until October 1, is already available for download , here. The software is based on Expression, a graphics application acquired from Creature House in 2003.

According to the program’s description from Microsoft’s site this is an innovative illustration, painting and graphics tool that provides exciting creative capabilities for designers working in print, web, video, and interactive media.

In addition to the Metro proprietary format, Microsoft is releasing another product aimed at competing with Adobe.

It remains to be seen if the giant from Redmond succeeds to outperform Adobe’s Photoshop and Illustrator. Microsoft has to provide innovative tools and advanced algorithms to convince professionals to switch from their current solutions (Photoshop and Illustrator) to Acrylic.

The application has already started on the wrong foot, the developers recommending users to have a Pentium 4 machine, with Windows XP Service Pack 2, 512MB of memory which makes us wonder if this product won’t be another program that requires a lot and does little.

Tabbed browsing in IE

Microsoft's new MSN toolbar implements the tabbed browsing interface for Internet Explorer. But not everyone is happy, as there are some bugs.


Microsoft admits Apache is superior

Tired of playing second fiddle in Web hosting, Microsoft is revamping its server software in an attempt to snatch market share away from the popular Apache-Linux combination.

When the software giant releases Longhorn Server in 2007, it will introduce a re-architected edition of its Internet Information Services Web server, said Bob Muglia, senior vice president in charge of Windows Server development.

The changes will make IIS more modular, which will speed up performance for Web applications, he said.

"We're componentizing IIS so you can load just the pieces of the Web server that you really need," Muglia said. "In the process of doing that, we'll be supercompetitive to Apache."

The open-source Apache Web server, which is often run on Linux, is the most widely used Web server and frequently used to serve Web pages on public Internet sites.

Taking a page from Apache, Microsoft intends to introduce a "plug-in architecture" to run applications inside the Web server, Muglia added.

"Web (hosting), security and high-performance computing are the three areas where Linux has more strength," he said. "Clearly, the one we're weakest in is hosting."

To make Windows Server a more attractive option than Linux for security, Microsoft intends to bolster its software with policy-based administration tools to simplify the task of setting up virtual private networks and authenticating network access across several servers.

The company is also looking to adapt its existing antispyware software to its Windows Server and business customers, Muglia said.

He declined to detail packaging plans, but he said that these enhancements would not be worked into the R2 update of Windows Server 2003, which is due by the end of this year.

"Right now we've got an antispyware beta that's out and we're looking at how we can deliver that technology to the enterprise on a broader basis," he said. "The big difference is that enterprises need to manage things, whereas consumers manage themselves."

To combat Linux in the high-performance computing market, Microsoft next year will release its first product in that area, called Windows Server 2003 Compute Cluster Edition, Muglia said.


Knoppix 3.9 Released

The Debian-based live-cd Linux distribution Knoppix has been updated to version 3.9. Among the most notable changes are the update to kernel 2.6.11 and the inclusion of OpenOffice 2.0 BETA and KDE 3.4. This is likely the last single-CD version of Knoppix before the split into 'Light' and 'Maxi' versions. Torrent links here.

Linux Kernel Gets Fully Automated Test

An anonymous reader writes "The Linux Kernel is now getting automatically tested within 15 minutes of a new version being released, across a variety of hardware and the results are being published for all to see. Martin Bligh announced this yesterday, running on top of IBM's internal test automation system. Maybe this will enable the kernel developers to keep up with the 2.6 kernel's rapid pace of change. Looks like it caught one new problem with last night's build already ..."


MSN Korea Hacked

Hackers planted a password stealer on the news page of South Korea’s MSN which went undetected for many days.
Our alarms went off (Sunday). We noticed it was infected, said Dan Hubbard, its senior security director.
The company finally learned about it and removed the nasty code. Microsoft confessed it removed the password-stealing software from the MSN site hours later. The hackers could have harvested stolen passwords from visitors to the MSN site for up to three days.

Thats the situation in South Korea, a leader in high-speed Internet users worldwide. On the otherside company was confident its English-language Web sites were not vulnerable to the same type of attack.

Apple Switching To Intel Chips In 2006

According to C|Net, Apple has officially decided to drop IBM, and will use Intel processors starting in their '06 line of systems. This change was rumored last month. The announcement is expected Monday at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco, at which Chief Executive Steve Jobs is giving the keynote speech." From the article: "Apple successfully navigated a switch in the 1990s from Motorola's 680x0 line of processors to the Power line jointly made by Motorola and IBM. That switch also required software to be revamped to take advantage of the new processors' performance, but emulation software permitted older programs to run on the new machines.


Yahoo - Safari2.0 friendly

As of yesterday, Yahoo!'s front page is freshly compatible with Safari 2.0. Before the update, the search tabs at the top of the main page failed to display.

Google Sitemap

Today, Google has unveiled a new Google Sitemaps program allowing webmasters and site owners to feed it pages they'd like to have included in Google's web index. Participation is free. Inclusion isn't guaranteed, but Google's hoping the new system will help it better gather pages than traditional crawling alone allows. Feeds also let site owners indicate how often pages change or should be revisited. Below, a Q&A on the new program with Shiva Shivakumar, engineering director and the technical lead for Google Sitemaps.
This helps the Google crawlers to be notified of what pages are present and which have changed recently, and to crawl the site accordingly. Google is releasing the Sitemap project under the Attribution/Share Alike Creative Commons license so that other search engines can do a better job as well. Eventually this will be supported natively in webservers (e.g. Apache, Lotus Notes, IIS).
There is also a Sitemap generator which automatically generates the XML file which contains the details about the URLs. But you would require Python2.2 to get the script runing on the server.

Read more about Google Sitemap and also read the Sitemap FAQ

Find Linux Torrents Quickly

If you're on the hunt for Linux ISO Torrents you might want to check out the long list of recently released distro torrents over at LinuxISOtorrent.com. They've got frequently updated torrents from A (Arch) to Z (Zen). The site only does one thing, but does it well - helps you get the latest Linux distros downloaded via BitTorrent, quickly.

Wikipedia uses Mono on Ubuntu/Debian

It has been announced that Wikipedia is using Mono and dotLucene (the same search backend used by Beagle) to enable indexing and search for their large content base. It is also seen that Mono 1.1.x has been integrated into Ubuntu and Debian.

Microsoft Office 12 has new file formats

On Thursday the company will announce that it plans to make XML-based file formats the default in the version of Office due to ship in the latter half of 2006.

Microsoft is introducing the new formats as part of Office 12, officials said, and will share more details about them at next week's Tech Ed 2005 conference in Orlando, Fla.

The new Word, Excel and PowerPoint formats will be designated as .docx, .xlsx and .pptx , respectively. Microsoft is referring to the family of new formats as "Microsoft Office Open XML Formats."

Microsoft is committing to publish the forthcoming XML formats and make them available under the same royalty-free license under which the current Office 2003 file formats are.

Licensees will be able to integrate these formats into their servers, applications and business processes "without financial consideration to Microsoft," according to the Redmond software vendor.

For users of older versions of Office — specifically Office 2000, Office 2003 and Office XP — Microsoft will make available software downloads that will allow them to read, edit and save using the new file formats.

Microsoft also plans to release a conversion tool that will allow users to point to files in an older format and convert them en masse to the new Office 12 XML format.

And for users who want no part of the new formats, Microsoft also will provide as an option in Office 12 the ability to continue to use the existing Office 2003 file formats as their defaults, officials said.

"We wanted to make sure we didn't repeat the errors we made with Office 97," explained Jean Paoli, senior director of XML architecture for Microsoft. "

A big part of our thinking was to make sure everything would be backwards-compatible."

(Microsoft's decision to change the default Office 97 file formats caused chaos for many users and software-vendor partners.)

While industry watchers acknowledged there could be some hidden "gotchas" that will become evident once partners and users get their hands on Office 12 code (Beta 1 is due out this fall), they were upbeat about Microsoft's file-format plans.

Making XML the file-format default "was the right thing for Microsoft to do," said Peter O'Kelly, a senior analyst with The Burton Group.

"Invariably, there will be disruption for some people, but Microsoft is providing mechanisms to minimize that disruption."

"This is the direction Microsoft had to go in to take Office the next step forward," concurred Jim Murphy, research director with AMR Research. "

It will enable Office to integrate better with other systems, as well as improve the ability to integrate between desktops and enterprise applications."


Linux Powers Airborne Bots

British researchers are turning to Linux and embedded processors to build a fleet of tiny, robotic helicopters capable of swarming like angry bees and evaluating their surroundings with a single hive mind.

The University of Essex's UltraSwarm project is an experiment in swarm intelligence and wireless cluster computing that might one day spawn military surveillance applications. In one scenario, a flock of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, with video cameras could take in a hostile landscape from a variety of angles and process the image locally, in the sky.
For their proof of concept, the researchers are using lightweight $69 Proxflyer Bladerunner toy helicopters equipped with gumstix processors -- tiny self-contained computers weighing 8 grams (0.28 ounces), but packing enough power to run the Linux 2.6 kernel and communicate over a built-in Bluetooth module.

The coaxial Bladerunner weighs only 50 grams (1.8 ounces) and is held aloft by two rotors, one atop the other, spinning in opposite directions to achieve a stable, insect-like flight. It's sold as a remote-control toy, but after adding the gumstix and a downward-facing video camera, the Essex University researchers have already turned one of the choppers into what they describe as the world's smallest flying web server.

If all goes according to plan, the helicopters will communicate with one another over Bluetooth, allowing them to move as one entity, and even to carry out sophisticated computation-heavy tasks using distributed computing techniques.
Read more about these robots here

Microsoft drops 'My' in Longhorn

Microsoft has announced that it will drop the 'My' prefix in the upcoming OS Longhorn. This was a custom to have the prefix 'My' attached to some folders like My Documents, My Pictures, etc. This was just to make the user more comfortable in using the computer. Nowadays technology is very much integrated into the user, that such stupid prefixes are not needed. In Longhorn, the folders will be called Documents, Pictures, etc.