Microsoft have released on Monday the Windows 10 Technical Preview tools, which offers software developers the first go at designing the much discussed universal applications. The tools are available for download for developers signed up for the Windows Insider Program.
Using them necessitates an installation of the latest Windows 10 technical preview release, while also having the community technology preview for Visual Studio 2015, and the previews version of the tools which include the operating system’s software development kit.
The universal apps are the base on which Microsoft are pushing their „One Windows” ideal, meaning that apps will be built cross-platform on the same runtime version and framework, and will be available for sale on a single unified store. Microsoft also state on their Windows blog that their upcoming system’s device platform will offer tools and techniques that will cut the cost of manufacturing Windows 10 devices, while also making it easier.
Besides this, the software giant has also announced that its new OS will incorporate support for 8k displays, which do not exist commercially at the moment but are expected to emerge in the near future. These will show images at a mind blowing 7620×4230 resolution, and support will be limited to PC’s. Considering the fact that 4k displays are still in the process of being adopted, this marks some extensive long-term planning on the part of Microsoft.
These announcements continue the wave of details that are being released at an automatic fire rate about the upcoming operating system, which is to be released worldwide this summer. In the past week, we’ve learned that Microsoft will offer Windows 10 as a free upgrade for existing Windows 7 and 8 users. Moreover, this will also apply to those that use non-genuine versions of these operating systems, as they curiously have the option to be upgraded to an unlicensed version of Windows 10.
Concerns were also voiced that hardware manufacturers that strive to obtain the “Designed to Windows 10 logo” are now offered by Microsoft the choice of whether to allow users to turn the mandatory Secure Boot function off; not offering this option restricts the system to functioning only on Microsoft’s upcoming OS.
Google continued its tradition of paying homage to important past personalities on Monday by displaying a personalized doodle meant to commemorate 133 years since the birth of German female mathematician Emmy Noether, widely regarded as the most important female contributor to the discipline in history.
The doodle, designed by graphic artist Sophie Diao, is formed out of a number of circles near a representation of Noether, with each circle outside of those containing the letters that spell Google representing mathematical or physics branches and ideas in which the German savant brought her contribution, ranging from topology to group theory and even time.
Amalie Emmy Noether was born on the 23rd of March 1882 in the Bavarian city of Erlangen into a family of Jewish origins. She overcame gender-based obstacles of Germany’s educational system at the time to become only one of the two female students at the University of Erlangen, out of the over 900 individuals in her promotion.
Noether then went on to teach without pay at Erlangen between 1908 and 1915, sometimes substituting for her father Max, an important contributor to algebraic geometry.
In 1915, she left Erlangen to join the mathematics department at the University of Gottingen at the behest of fellow savants David Hilbert and Felix Klein, but again due to gender based restrictions in the academic world of the time she was forced to teach without pay, with her lectures being advertised under Hilbert’s name.
Post World War I social changes eventually got Noether a small salary for her teaching activity during the 1920’s. Her activity in Germany was halted by the emergence of the Nazi regime, which made her ineligible to teach because of her Jewish descendance. She emigrated to the United States in 1933, where she spent her final years researching for the Bryn Mawr college, before succumbing in 1935 to an ovarian disease.
Her contribution to science ranges from abstract algebra to theoretical physics, with her eponymous theory explaining the connection between symmetry and conservation laws, among other. This made a number of savants such as Albert Einstein, Norbert Wiener or Pavel Alexandrov acknowledge her as the most important female contributor in the history of mathematics.
Image Source: Washington Post
Facebook plans to open third party development for its widely used Messenger App, with the announcement stated to come at next week’s F8 conference, with over 20 such modifications expected to be revealed at the event.
This comes as a bid to improve functionality and incorporate varying tasks into the chat’s architecture, with Facebook going down the road that Asian chat apps Line and WeChat already took. The extent to which these modifications might alter the way the Messenger works will be limited at the beginning, with the company closely monitoring initial experiments. Based on their success, Facebook will decide
It is unclear what exactly these modifications will consist of, with none of the involved third parties being leaked as of yet, but a look at Line and WeChat might provide some sense of direction. The two third party-enabled apps can be used for a multitude of task besides base chatting, such as booking hotel rooms, paying phone bills, buying movie tickets and even shop on some online retailers.
The Facebook Messenger was launched in 2011 and underwent a couple of design and architecture changes throughout the years, some of which weren’t too popular with users. Data from statista.com suggests that Facebook Messenger was the third most used messenger app worldwide, with 500 million users as of December 2014, trailing only behind WhatsApp (already acquired by Facebook last year) and QQMobile. Despite this, user ratings on the Apple App Store for example hold it only at a three out of five star rating.
The F8 Developer’s Conference will be held Wednesday and Thursday next week at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. The company is also poised to make some important announcements regarding the future of Oculus VR and its Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, which the social media giant surprisingly bought last year for over $2 billion, but has generally kept quiet on future intentions. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey declined to comment on the headset’s future at the recent SXSW 2015, where the company had a panel.
Image Source: Endgadget
Silicon Valley giant Google has intentionally used content from competitors and threatened them with exclusion from the search engine’s range when asked to stop doing, if a recently leaked 2012 U.S. Federal Trade Commission report is to be believed. The antitrust report was mistakenly leaked after being sent to the Wall Street Journal instead of another unrelated document the publication requested.
The 2012 report details how Google used content and data from rival companies such as Yelp, Amazon or Trip Advisor illegally to improve its own sites – such as copying the Amazon ratings system for example – and it also favored its own sites within its widely used search engine.
The FTC paper also suggests that when confronted by these companies about the illegal use of their content, Google threatened them with exclusion of their sites from the search engine, an attitude that the report considered as harmful towards consumers and innovation. It also stated that Google imposed restrictions on sites using its own search engine directly related to the possibility of using rival engines – such as Yahoo Search or Microsoft’s Bing – a practice considered to represent an unfair use of monopoly.
This bring into question the reason for which FTC commissioners chose to drop the investigation in 2013 in a unanimous vote, in exchange for Google committing to changes regarding use of content. The report clearly suggests Google using unfair business practices and even bullying to undermine and subdue competition.
But since its U.S. acquittal, trade regulators from all over the world – Argentina, Canada, India or Taiwan – have openly started to investigate the company’s approach to competition, with maybe the most vehement opposition coming from within the European Union. Investigation of Google business practices by the EU is underway for more than five years, with the promises of change from the American giant being considered insufficient; however, no measures were taken as of yet against it.
Catalonian lawmaker and EU Parliament member Ramon Tremosa i Balcells – an outspoken opponent of Google – snubbed the idea of EU opposition to Google being just a case of protectionism against a successful US company. The conflict continues as investigation has been transitioned to new European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestaeger.
Image Source: CapitalOTC
We’ve seen parental control technology in a lot of different circumstances, with video games and TV providing possibilities for controlling the children’s experience, but the future iteration of the Chevrolet Malibu will put this into one of its weirdest contexts.
A video launched Friday on the Chevrolet YouTube channel presents a new feature called Teen Driver that the General Motors brand will incorporate in the 2016 version of the Malibu. And it is essentially the same thing as TV control system applied to an automobile.
Parents lending their vehicle to their freshly driving licensed children will now be able to control a wide range of options regarding the vehicle’s performance and more when their teens are driving it. After activating a PIN code on the car’s electronic system and linking it with their sixteen years old’s set of keys, the parent is able to set up some parameters regarding the teen’s driving.
For example, they can set a maximum speed limit, which when surpassed will knock off a loud alarm inside the car. The system will also generate a report card accessible by the parent which leaks on the distance driven by the teen, the number of times maximum speed alarms were set up, average speed or the frequency if stability control kicking in.
In addition to this, activating Teen Driver will also lock most of the vehicle’s security features, such as Collision Alert, Traction Control or Parking Assist, so that they cannot be turned off.
“We developed this system so parents could use it as a teaching tool with their kids – they can discuss and reinforce safe driving habits. As a mother of two, I know anything that has the potential of keeping one’s family safer is of great value to parents” said MaryAnn Beebe, safety engineer for GM, who presented the Teen Driver system in the video.
The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu is set to officially debut in April, with it being available to purchase starting with December this year. It remains to be seen whether this system will actually be a breakthrough in providing better safety for teens while driving, or if its use will ultimately be the one of a joke between two partners sharing the same car.
Image Source: Carscoops
Taiwanese smartphone giant HTC has announced on Thursday that Cher Wang will be appointed as chairwoman of the company, with former long-time CEO Peter Chou being transferred to a role concerning development of future products.
The appointment of Wang as CEO was voted by HTC’s board of directors and will come into full effect immediately. Wang was one of the company’s co-founders in 1997 – together with Chou – and became chairwoman of the board of directors in 2007. Chou will instead oversee the development and direction of new HTC products – which seems more than a symbolic role, with the company trying to broaden its device and gadget range.
The shift of power seems to have been prepared for some time within the company, as Peter Chou started directing his focus increasingly onto possible new products since a couple of years back, while also repeatedly delegating Mrs. Wang with more CEO-like attributions.
This change in leadership comes after an extended period of financial disappointment for the Taiwanese corporation, which recorded a continuous drop in sales over the past four years. HTC reported only a 500 million Taiwanese dollars (about 15 million in US dollars) profit in its fourth quarter of 2014, with number expected to drop in Q1 2015. This is quite a far cry away from main smartphone competitor Apple – that reported an $8.2 billion dollar profit in 2014’s last fiscal quarter.
To get itself back on track, HTC has unveiled its new projects at the Mobile World Congress held earlier this month in Barcelona, including a new One smartphone – criticized for being too similar to earlier versions -, a curiously designed camera and an electronic bracelet for fitness enthusiasts. The Taiwanese manufacturer also announced a partnership with Valve to produce a new allegedly groundbreaking virtual reality headset, called the HTC Vive.
HTC was founded back in 1997 by a trio consisting of Peter Chou, Cher Wang and H.T. Cho. It quickly rose to prominence at the beginning of the smartphone era, with it leading at one point the US market, over competitors Samsung and Apple. But the Taiwanese company has been dragging more and more behind the two giants in recent years, and changes to their strategy are needed to still maintain a share of relevance on the smartphone market.
Image Source: Bloomberg
On Thursday, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket was fired up from Cape Canaveral. It carried four immense octagonal slice-shaped capsules, which were set into orbit at a five minutes distance from each other. They are now gravitating around the Earth with increased speed, preparing to be grouped into a pyramid formation. The goal of this mission is to study magnetic reconnection, a natural process that poses a threat to communication systems on our planet.
According to a NASA report about the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission, magnetic reconnection is a phenomenon provoked by the connection, disconnection and reconfiguration of magnetic fields, which leads to large explosions (whose energy release is the equivalent of billions of megatons of TNT and whose propelling force can speed particles through space nearly light-fast).
The study of magnetic reconnection could lead to a better comprehension of its effects on communications (internet, mobile phones, electrical grids, and GPS systems). Furthermore, it could deepen scholars’ understanding of the functioning of magnetic fields in space, at far distances in the outer solar system or beyond.
The first phase of the mission involves orbiting the earth following an elliptical trajectory. Each of the four spacecraft will reach a distance of 43,000 miles from the Earth while in orbit. In the second phase, this distance will increase to 95,000 miles. The space capsules will cover both the bright side of our planet, where the Sun’s magnetic field meets the Earth’s, and the dark side of the planet, where magnetic reconnection is more frequent, producing the aurora borealis and aurora australis.
Each spacecraft has arm-like appendages that extend up to 200 feet on each of its eight sides. These carry measurement instruments. The Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission program manager Craig Tooley described the limbs of the spacecraft as having, each, “a footprint about the size of a football field”. Due to the mobile instruments, they will record magnetic activity over 100 times faster than any mission has done so far. The gigantic octagonal devices weight around 3,000 pounds when completely fuelled.
Scholars are very enthusiastic about the discoveries this mission might trigger. Jim Burch from the Southwest Research Institute, the principal investigator for the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission, explained that “everything to do with space weather starts with reconnection”, which is why it is crucial to understand why and how it takes place. The current mission will study precisely that area around the Earth where magnetic reconnection phenomena take place. Burch is confident that this will help solve the mystery.
image source: NASA
A Reuters report suggests that Microsoft could release its Cortana – a planned artificial intelligence personal assistance in the likes of the popular Siri – as a stand-alone application that could be available for use on competing Google and Apple operating systems.
Currently available in a beta state for Windows Phone 8.1 users, Cortana is expected to have a full worldwide release together with Microsoft’s Windows 10 OS, for both smartphones and desktops. The report states that a stand-alone release is planned a couple of months later, which would see the personal assistant available for purchase on iOS and Android app stores.
An interview with Microsoft Research director Eric Horvitz also shed some lights on planned functionality details for Cortana, which would see the A.I. assistant completing more complex tasks than Apple’s Siri.
Cortana is being developed using research from a program called Project Einstein, and some of its stated groundbreaking features revolve over the A.I. being able to plan the user’s activities according to information taken from e-mails. Using a plane flight example, Horvitz explained how Cortana can announce the user when to leave for the airport to arrive exactly on time by analyzing traffic conditions, his distance to the airport and delays of scheduled flights.
Microsoft had already announced in November last year that it will not make Cortana restricted to its Windows operating system, but no reports at the time suggested that this would include its main competitors in the smartphone and tablet markets.
This strategy might be meant to combat its inferiority to Google and Apple in the tablet and smartphone market share, with a recent report showing that just 5% of shipped tablets in 2015 ran on Windows. The company has also made its Office suite available on iOS and Android.
Cortana itself takes its name from a virtual artificial intelligence character from the popular Halo video game series, with character voice actress Jen Taylor also providing the voice for the personal assistant. This represented a smart move for Microsoft’s personal assistant application to gain instant popularity, with the video games series having sold over 60 million units in its more than 10 year history and the character being widely popular amongst its fans
Image Source: The Verge
A new study has revealed that the Milky Way galaxy is actually much bigger than humans previously thought. According to new measurements, the Milky Way galaxy is 50% bigger than it was thought and our own solar system occupies a smaller space in this enormous galaxy.
Past studies have estimated that our Milky Way galaxy is around 100,000 light years, where one light year is around 6 trillion miles. Scientists from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New Jersey, United States have done new research that suggests the Milky Way galaxy is 50 % bigger than that, which puts it at around 50,000 light years bigger.
Lead author of the study, Professor Yan Xu from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said that after extensive research, astronomers observed that the number of the stars in the Milky Way diminishes rapidly at around 50,000 light years from the center of our galaxy. After that, a ring of stars appears at around 60,000 light years from the center of the Milky Way.
This ring first discovered in 2002 is a band of stars called the Monoceros Ring and it surrounds the outer corners of the Miley Way. At first, scientists believed that these stars were just a tidal debris steam left over from a neighboring dwarf galaxy, but a new debate has recently sparked that questions the initial belief. Some scientists now believe that the stars are actually part of our own galaxy, which would make the Milk Way 50% bigger than originally thought.
Heidi Newberg, an astronomer involved in the study said that the Monoceros Ring and the Milky Way may be related because the ring is following the same spiral structure of the galaxy. Newberg was involved in the discovery of the Monoceros Ring back in 2002 and it is very much surprised by the new measurements and studies that show the Milky Way galaxy is 50% bigger than former estimates.
Professor Xu stated:
We identified an asymmetry in disk stars that oscillates from the north to the south, to the north to the south across the galactic plane in the anticenter direction. What we see now is that this apparent ring is actually a ripple in the disk. And it may well be that there are more ripples further out which we have not yet seen.
The scientists are hoping that high resolution 3D images of the Monoceros Ring are helpful in revealing even more details about the size of our galaxy. The next step for the researchers is to use the Gaia telescope in Europe to continue their investigations.
Image Source: ThinkInc
Chemists at the University of Illinois, under the supervision of chemistry professor and medical doctor Martin D. Burke, built a molecule-making machine, which functions on the principles of a 3D-printer, but uses knowledge we gained from plants. The aim of their research was to speed up the process of generating molecules, in order to make it available to non-specialists. To achieve this, Professor Burke said, a complicated process like chemical synthesis had to be made simple, so that it could be automatized.
Most drugs available today for various medical conditions are based on small molecules – a category of complex but compact chemical structures, which are also used in solar cells and LEDs and which play an essential role in the functioning of living cells. Because these molecules are difficult to synthetize, the progress of pharmaceutical companies has been significantly slowed down so far.
To generate molecules mechanically, you have to first create their “building blocks” – smaller components that aggregate into molecules through a simple reaction, once their identical connector pieces are stitched together. In order to make the device work, Burke’s group constructed a method that adds one piece at a time and wipes away the excess before adding the next building block. Using this technique, the molecular 3D-printer can make up 14 different kinds of small molecules, some of which are very difficult to obtain by traditional methods. Now, a simple click of the mouse can set off the process, once the printer has been created.
Miles Fabian, a member of the Institute of General Medical Sciences within the National Institute of Health (which funded part of Burke’s research), declared his enthusiasm for the impact he foresees the new molecule-making machine will have on the synthetic chemistry market, as well as on research in bio sciences.
So far, the new technology has been licensed only to REVOLUTION Medicines, Inc., a company which produces anti-fungal medications, but Burke hopes that his results will be used in other therapeutic fields as well. He believes that the industrialization of the molecule-making technology will help improve the invention. The new discovery is featured on the cover of the March 13 issue of Science Magazine.
image source: Science