Ronnie05's Blog

Microsoft and Apple ready for war in portable media players

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates, The Technology Ecosystem by Manas Ganguly on August 26, 2009

The war of portable media players has just gotten hotter!


On 24th August 2009, Microsoft anounced the touch screen version of the Zune portable media player which was announced on 26th May, this year was ready for launch and has been christened Zune HD.According to a report on Cnet, Microsoft will launch Zune HD’s  sales campaign on 15th September at a price point of USD219 for 16GB and USD289 for 32G in 2 color options of black and platinum. Amongst others, Zune HD will offer several features that are not found on the iPod Touch, including an OLED display, HD radio, and high-definition video playback (using an optional dock accessory). Other new fetures will also feature Internet Explorer Web browser to work hand in hand with other Wi-Fi features (song sharing, Channel streaming, and Zune Marketplace browsing).Zune HD’s browser is optimized for the touch screen with an onscreen keyboard, but there’s no word on whether it will be capable of streaming Flash media (used by sites such as YouTube and Pandora), a capability that is currently lacking in the Safari browser for the iPhone and iPod Touch.Another interesting feature of the Zune HD will be it’s ability to integrate an HD radio tuner which can also transmit artist and song data, very useful for it’s existing FM radio song-tagging and download feature.Other regular features like a photo viewer, games, podcast management, and Zune Pass music subscription integration. Another significant improvement compared to Zune’s previous models will be it’s battery life. Microsoft said that it can have 33 hours of music playback and 8.5 hours of video (with Wi-Fi deactivated). High battery life will be significant since Zune’s previous models are none other than their poor battery performance.Microsoft also plans to dramatically beef up the video download selection of its Zune Marketplace online store, and use the improved storefront to power the movie and TV downloads available to the Xbox gaming console. The new storefront will support movie rentals that can be transferred to Zune hardware (similar to iTunes movie rentals) playable from either your computer or from the Zune HD.

iPod Nano

If Microsoft was trying to steal the thunder out of Apple’s media event on 9th September, it almost succeeded. Almost! Apple’s reply came barely 48hrs after Microsoft’s declaration. Zune HD would be met with a fight and Apple would launch the newest versions of iPod Nano and iPod Touch to counter Zune HD! The big story would be the addition of Cameras to both the iPods! Also featuring would be the introduction of  iTunes 9 with elements of social networking built into them. Rumours have it that Apple’s iTunes could carry support for Blu-ray discs, visual management and rearrangement capabilities for App Store software.

Google Innovates on Maps to show highway and arterial traffic

Posted in Value added services and applications by Manas Ganguly on August 26, 2009

Google MapsGoogle Maps Will Now Show You Traffic Conditions on Back Roads

Google Maps added another nifty feature that will show live traffic conditions on arterial roads (non-highway roads) in selected cities. Google Maps will also show traffic patterns on main highways as well, helping see the least-trafficked route is for commute between two points.

To enable this feature, the user needs to zoom-in on the city and click the “Traffic” button in the upper-right corner of the map. This will give the traffic conditions of both arterial roads and highways. The colors correspond to the speed of traffic green is little to no traffic, yellow is medium congestion, red is heavy congestion, and red/black is stop-and-go traffic.

Google says that this feature can also be accessed on Google Maps for Mobile, which is particularly useful when trying to figure out the best route on the go. Google also shed a little bit of light as to how they crowdsource traffic info via Google Maps on mobile phones. On enabling Google Maps with My Location, the phone sends anonymous bits of data back to Google describing how fast the user is  moving. When Google combines travelling speed with the speed of other phones on the road, across thousands of phones moving around a city at any given time, they can get an idea of traffic live conditions. They continuously combine this data and send it back to you for free in the Google Maps traffic layers.

Google assures users that they only use anonymous speed and location information to calculate traffic conditions, and only do so when the user has opted to enable location services on his or her phone.

Cloud computing rides on spiralling Energy costs

Posted in The cloud and the open source by Manas Ganguly on August 26, 2009

A report by US researchers has shown the increasing cost of power and cooling in the data centre is a driver towards cloud computing. Rising power and cooling costs makes it more economically viable for companies to hold data in large centralised hubs. Half of the total cost of these facilities [data centres] is cooling and power distribution. This wasn’t true 10 or 15 years ago. The implication is the need to have larger centralised facilities to take this cost.

This gives the advantage to people doing cloud computing, making it more economically viable to do computation within the cloud instead of your own data centre.

There were three benefits associated with the cloud computing model.

  • The first being that cost per computation would be less as it would be spread over more users.
  • Secondly servers would be better utilised, or be able to handle more “diversity”. An example of the diversity effect is geographically load re-distribution/re-location.Companies would have peak demands at different times depending where they were based. This means the servers would be utilised throughout the day [and night] rather than all at the same time.
  • The final benefit is the end to arguing over the budget split between hardware and power within a company’s IT department as that decision was passed onto an external company.

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