The study used an MRI to measure the brain activity of a group of seniors while they performed simulated internet search tasks, and also as they read a book. According to Dr. Gary Small, the tests showed that “when older people read a simulated book page, we see areas of the brain activated… When they search on the Internet, they use the same areas, but there was much greater activation particularly in the front part, which controls decision-making and complex reasoning.”
Of course, greater brain activity is good for keeping sharp (hence the popularity of Nintendo’s Brain Age series of games) so this study means that searching the net could help keep you firing on all cognitive cylinders as you age. However, the increased activity was only found in those who had experience with searching the internet, so if you have any older relatives who are still net-illiterate, it might be time to give them a few lessons in the fine art of Googling.
Full-blown instant-on technology is considered by some to be the holy grail of computing, whereby once you hit the power button, your PC's ready to go. It's safe to assume we won't see this implemented in its entirety anytime soon, but steps have already been taken in that direction. Asus' SplashTop OS makes it possible to fire up Pidgin, Skype, or a browser all before booting into the main operating system, and similar functionality can be found on some Dell Latitude notebooks and even Voodoo's Envy. These Linux-based systems on a chip are all the rage and appear to have drawn the attention of Microsoft.
In a recent Microsoft survey sent out to select users, the software giant pinged consumer interest in "Instant On" technology. The survey notes that "Instant On takes your computer from being completely powered down or 'turned off' to being usable for a few specific activities in a very short amount of time." The survey goes on to ask participants a series of related questions, such as what value they place on Instant On technology and what types of applications would they expect to be able to use.
So what exactly does Microsoft have planned? It could be nothing, or it could be feature to pop up in Windows 7. Or maybe the next iteration of Centrino will come standard with Instant On. The list of possibilities goes on and on, but at the very least, the company's exploring user interest and is aware of the trend.
Hit the jump and tell us what you think Microsoft is up to, and whether or not you care.
Two days ago, Microsoft announced that the code name “Windows 7” was in fact more than a code name, and that the OS would actually be released under the moniker. Since then, there’s been some head-scratching about what exactly Windows 7 will be the seventh of. Today, Mike Nash posted again to clear up the confusion, and explain exactly how Microsoft arrived at the name.
In brief, Nash explained that the up through Windows 3.0, each release got its own number. Then, they started getting a little more conservative with release numbers, with NT still being part of version 3, and all the 9x platforms making up 4.0. 2000 and XP comprised number 5, and Vista is 6.0.
So, naturally it’s called Windows 7 because it’s Windows 7.0, right?
Err, no. Windows 7 is actually Windows 6.1. He explains the reasoning for this as follows:
“We learned a lot about using 5.1 for XP and how that helped developers with version checking for API compatibility. We also had the lesson reinforced when we applied the version number in the Windows Vista code as Windows 6.0-- that changing basic version numbers can cause application compatibility issues.”
So Windows 7 is certainly not the seventh Windows release, and it’s not Windows 7.0, either. It’s just… Windows 7. What do you think of the name? Hit the jump and let us know.
The open source productivity suite Open Office 3.0 moved from beta form into a final release on Monday but was ill prepared for the demand that would follow. Enough users flocked to OpenOffice.org to crash the website, and two days later the site still remains semi-operational. The main page - the only one that's functioning - is adorned with several download links and the following message:
"Apologies - our website is struggling to cope with the unprecedented demand for the new release 3.0 of OpenOffice.org. The technical teams are trying to come up with a solution. Thank you for your patience."
The free alternative (retail version runs $70 and includes technical support and intellectual property indemnification) to Microsoft's Office suite is now more compatible with Office, including letting users immediately read documents saved in the .docx, .xlsx, or .pptx formats.
Have you kicked the tires on Open Office 3.0 yet? Hit the jump and give us your impression.
Yahoo just can’t seem to catch a break. The search site’s prospects are looking dimmer and dimmer as Yahoo and Google negotiate with the Justice department to try and head off a potential antitrust lawsuit stemming from their proposed advertising partnership. Several compromises are being discussed which would lessen the strategic value of the partnership for Yahoo.
The currently proposed concessions, according to the Wall Street Journal, “include capping the volume of Google ads Yahoo would use, assurances that Yahoo would continue to compete in search ads, and a reporting mechanism to ensure compliance… U.S. officials hope to impose measures that will ensure the prices advertisers must pay don’t rise significantly after the deal.”
According to Silicon Valley Insider, these compromises would leave the already down-in-the-mouth Yahoo in an even weaker position, cutting out much of the benefit they had hoped to gain from the ad partnership. They also suggest that Microsoft’s lobbyists are responsible for the Justice Department’s scrutiny of the deal, writing that “even if [Microsoft] doesn’t buy Yahoo, it gets the quiet pleasure of poking another stick at the carcass of a company that spurned it’s now extraordinarily generous buyout offer.”
Having apparently run out of actual people to talk to, New Scientist has posted an interview with Elbot, the chatbot that won this year’s Loebner Prize for artificial intelligence. Structured after the Turing Test, the prize is awarded to whichever bot can fool the most of the 12 judges into thinking that it’s a real person.
Elbot successfully convinced three judges that it was not a chatbot, but rather a human being pretending to be a robot.
Confused? Check out this excerpt from the interview: New Scientist: You and your creator won $3000 of prize money. How do you plan to use the money?
Elbot: As I always say, it’s hard to keep a 600-pound robot down, unless you use gravity.
With natural, sensible dialogue like that, I don’t know how any of the judges could have not been fooled. On that note, if anyone is in need of a quick buck, we suggest entering a chatbot next year that pretends to be a man banging his head against the keyboard.
Anyone who wants to can chat with Elbot; give it a try and tell us what you think after the break.
Think Spore is too short? Think Spore is too long? Think Spore is just right? Well it doesn't matter what you think; EA is putting Spore on a McDonald's diet, and the game won't stop expanding until it is the Space phase. Today's highly expected declaration -- which slaps release dates on a "Cute and Creepy" parts pack and an add-on for the aforementioned Space phase -- is only the beginning.
The Cute and Creepy set, not mincing any words, will include roughly 100 parts of both kitten-copyingly adorable and kitten-crunchingly horrifying varieties. For a mere $19.95, you can help break the record for world's fastest expansion pack when Cute and Creepy launches on November 18. It also works with Spore Creature Creator, making it the first expansion to cost more than the title it's expanding.
On the other hand, the Space pack sounds more akin to a real expansion pack. Slated for release during spring of 2009, it will see "players' space faring creatures... beam down from their spaceships to explore new planets and earn rewards for completing challenging missions" as well as "a new Adventure Creator will allow players to build and share online their own custom missions."
We were hoping EA might expand some of Spore's less-awesome stages, but hey, at least EA's heralds aren't shouting the joys of Spore: H&M. Yet.
No one can deny that StarCraft II's recently announced reverse-Voltron has officially renewed Blizzard's license to print money, but they can deny Blizzard's good intentions. Vehemently. Don't worry, though; the StarCraft crafters went out of their way to provide a few argument-dominating quotes on the off-chance you're still feeling a tad miffed about their decision.
"One of the things that [StarCraft II lead producer] Chris Sigaty was saying in interviews this weekend is that we had always planned to do two expansion packs for StarCraft II. This structure just reshuffles how we were going to do things," StarCraft rep Bob Colayco told Edge in response to the titular moo-juice allusion.
"Just to give you some context, typically with Blizzard RTSes, we release a single-player campaign that gives players just a taste of each race. The original StarCraft had 10 missions each or so for Terrans and Protoss. When we released the Brood Wars expansion pack, there was another eight or so missions for each of the missions."
Each race-focused StarCraft II release, then, includes the same number of missions -- and therefore, roughly the same amount of content -- as their unified predecessor. However, instead of a pithy 10 missions per race, the Terrans stand front and center for 30 missions, as do the Zerg and Protoss.
"Well, if you want to say 'one game' is 90 missions long, then yeah, I guess you’re only getting a third of a game each time," Colayco added. "Show me a game where there are 90 missions. We’re giving players a full-fledged single-player campaign experience included in each of the games."
See? That's no cash-grabbing scheme. That's Blizzard's sacrifice. We'd type more, but we're too busy saluting and choking back a single, glistening tear.
Long the king of entertainment for the attention-deficit, YouTube is finally hosting full-length episodes of TV shows. Taking a cue from Hulu, Google will be offering the videos with the new theater view mode, “dimming the lights” on the rest of the page and adding a superfluous red curtain on either side of the video playback.
Also like Hulu, the full-length episodes will include ads before, after, and during the episodes. On their blog, YouTube explains: “As we test this new format, we also want to ensure that our partners have more options when it comes to advertising on their full-length TV shows. You may see in-stream video ads (including pre-, mid- and post-rolls) embedded in some of these episodes; this advertising format will only appear on premium content where you are most comfortable seeing such ads.”
So far, the site is offering a handful of episodes of Star Trek, MacGyver, Beverly Hills 90210 and The Young and the Restless, with the promise of more to come.
What do you think? Is YouTube going to be successful in the video on-demand market? Is it going to take more than low-res MacGyver to get you to tune in? Let us know after the break.
In what's becoming a trend, Washington D.C. joins the ranks of more than 500,000 businesses and organizations with its head in the clouds. District CTO Vivik Kundra inked an agreement with Google that will port the organization's 38,000 employees over to Google Apps.
According to Bloomberg, the agreement, which was signed back in June, is worth almost $500,000 a year and will include applications like Gmail, Google Docs, Google Video for business, and Google Sites to District employees. The latest win comes as another notch in Google's belt, as its Google Apps has been well received since launching a little over two years ago as Gmail for your domain.
But Google isn't the only one challenging Microsoft in the productivity world. Zoho also offers a collection of online apps and managed to snag GE as one of its customers. Meanwhile, Microsoft has largely been content to ride the success of its offline Office suite, but things could get interesting if cloud computing continues to pick up steam.