Today seems to be a pretty big day in the (previously small) world of touch-screen devices that you don’t actually touch. Microsoft has released a demo showcasing a technology called Touchless which allows an everyday webcam to emulate the functionality of an expensive multi-touch screen. They’ve also released an SDK for Touchless, allowing developers to start creating their own sorta-multi-touch apps.
Mike Wasserman, the creator of the Touchless, has released a video demonstrating the technology in action. The technique involves using the webcam to track the position of “markers” manipulated in the air or on the surface. In the video, Mike uses all sorts of things as markers, including stuffed toys and a lollipop, which makes it seem like anything sufficiently colorful can be used. The video shows off how Touchless can be used to manipulate photos, draw, and play some rudimentary multi-touch games like Pong.
So far, Touchless is just a neat demonstration of an idea. With the SDK released, though, we might see some very cool things built on the technology in the future.
Check out the video or try the demo for yourself and let us know what you think.
Evidently, software pirates have been passing up on Microsoft’s latest flagship OS, Vista, in order to get their booty plundering hands on a counterfeit version of XP, according to Bonnie MacNaughton, a senior attorney at Microsoft.
“Historically, counterfeiters tend to focus on the 'n-1' version of software," explained MacNaughton. "Because of the more robust antipiracy and security features in Vista, most sophisticated piracy rings still continue to focus on XP. But that's changing over time.” For the very same reasons, counterfeiters are only copying Office 2003, rather than Office 2007.
Given the current future of Windows XP, and the high possibility of its piracy it’s entirely likely that any copy of XP that you get after January 2009 (with the exception of downgrades available through HP and Dell) is pirated. Because of this, Microsoft is planning on rolling out a brand new ad campaign in early 2009 to remind people of XP’s demise, and this possibility. “We're planning [a campaign] in January or February to make sure our customers know what our rules and policies are about Windows XP," stated MacNaughton, "to make sure they understand what may be illegitimate and what may be legitimate. We want to make sure that the XP they might be getting is genuine.”
We feel your pain. A stud like yourself should never be single, but for whatever reason, your overclocking mojo and wicked high framerates have failed to score that lucky lifelong mate you know is out there. No problem, that's what dating sites are for. But how do you manage the inevitable flurry of responses you're sure to receive? After all, you did include a photo of your custom build and a CPU-Z screenshot, right?
Of course you did, and this is just one of the many scenarios where a canned response would come in handy. Think of the time you could save by not having to reply to each solicitation individually.
"Hi. Thanks for your interest in my personal ad (who can blame you?). As you might have surmised, I do get an inordinate amount of responses. In order to save us both some time, please reply back with a few specific details, including your hair color, cup size, favorite food, and any special talents you may have. Please don't forget to attach a recent photo. Good luck!"
Because not everyone should receive the same message, and some none at all, Gmail's new 'Canned Responses' feature lets you create automated messages using filters based on keywords, sender, recipients, and more. How groovy!
Plan to use this feature? Hit the jump and let us know how.
Coders, start your engines. The long awaited release of the Android source code has come to an end, thanks to the Android Open Source Project. The announcement, which was made just yesterday, hopes to potentially influence the future of mobile devices as a whole. Pretty ambitious!
“Even if you're not planning to ship a mobile device any time soon, Android has a lot to offer,” writes Dave Bort (are they out of license plates in the gift shop?) on Androiod’s blog, “Interested in working on a speech-recognition library? Looking to do some research on virtual machines? Need an out-of-the-box embedded Linux solution? All of these pieces are available, right now, as part of the Android Open Source Project, along with graphics libraries, media codecs, and some of the best development tools I've ever worked with.” He continues to encourage anyone with a great idea for a new feature to simply add it. Given the nature of the open source project, anyone can influence Android.
Some big ups have to go out to Google on this one, making Andrioid perhaps one of the easiest development tools to acquire. Considering it’s free to license and now the entire source code is available to anyone that wants it, perhaps their dream of world domination is only a few developers away.
The wait is over. Today, LucasArts and BioWare finally force unleashed the first details on their joint MMO production, and it sounds like the best thing that could possibly come from Star Wars and gaming's unholy union aside from a Jar-Jar killing sim where you blast Jar-Jars with a Jar-Jar launcher*.
The game will take place a few hundred years after KOTOR 2 caught fire and skidded off a cliff to an eventual -- and undeniably painful -- halt, and will cast you as a jedi, sith, or something else that you probably won't bother with. As with any BioWare title, MMOTOR will focus on story foremost, spicing up the MMO genre with BioWare's top-notch storytelling prowess.
And oh will there be story content. According to BioWare president Greg Zeschuk and CEO Ray Muzyka, the game isn't KOTOR 3, "it's KOTOR 3, 4, 5, 6, etc. There's that much to it."
"It's a whole galaxy. It's a galaxy of Star Wars," they added.
In order to make such an ambitious story possible, The Old Republic will saddle you with single-player RPG-esque companion characters. You can change and manipulate them, and they can assist you throughout your adventures. As such, the game will "allow players to carve out their own epic stories," with your actions affecting the entire game world, as well as your characters' morality.
Even crazier, every class and faction configuration will have its own storyline. Lead writer on the project Daniel Ericson even claimed that his latest progeny could feasibly be played like a single-player RPG. There's that much story.
“If you’re a BioWare fan, you’re going to get everything you ever imagined from an extension of KOTOR,” he said.
We couldn't want this any more if it came with a ticket to beautiful women and infinite money island**. How about you?
*The alt fires are lightsabers and Hayden Christensen.
I feel like my eyes have just been opened for the very first time. This iTunes store junkie has finally seen the true light when it comes to buying music online, and it comes in the form of Lala.com.
When buying a song on iTunes I find myself searching around the very easy to navigate store, buying music at a reasonably priced 99 cents per song, and downloading a file with attached DRM. I’d always accepted it, it didn’t seem unaccommodating. Now that I’ve had a chance to check out the eminence that is Lala.com, I can’t ever see myself going back to iTunes again. Not to say that iTunes is bad, but Lala is just that good.
Why is Lala good? First of all, they sell MP3’s for 89 cents without any attached DRM (seriously!), or you can buy a streaming only version for just 10 cents (which will go towards the purchase of the full version). Albums themselves come at the price of $7.49, less than both iTunes and the legendary price-slashing Amazon.
Lala also allows you to listen to a song completely before you decide to buy it – and there’s plenty to listen to. Lala offers tunes from the four major record labels and 170,000 independents. New members are also allowed to pick up their first 50 streaming songs for free, no strings attached – no credit card, no nothing.
Say you’re like me, you’re packing a hefty amount of songs on your computer. You’ve purchased some from iTunes with that nasty DRM attached and MP3s that you’ve ripped straight of CDs. What do you do? You use Lala’s safe to use uploader! It scans the music on your computer’s hard drive, identifies the songs you’ve got and tosses them onto your library so that you can listen to them anywhere. Users accustomed with MP3.com’s MyMP3 service will already be familiar with this concept.
I could quite literally go on and on about how great this service really is, but if you use it for even just a little bit you’ll realize its potential on your own. Be sure to drive your browser over to Lala’s web site, and sign up straight away (and keep your eyes glued to your iPhone’s app store, they’ve got an app on the horizon). And remember, cash in those 50 free songs!
In the most pointed paragraph of the letter, the MPAA’s Jeff Williams writes:
“Forgive us if we take offense when the EFF and other activist organizations that continually take the side of those who profit from widespread copyright infringement attack our industry as one that stifles innovation. It's a desperate throw-back to the Napster days of old when they pull out this tired and weathered playbook. It's not 2001 anymore.”
The letter also argues that Hollywood and the internet are no longer at odds, and that legal services like iTunes and Hulu represent ways in which the industry is embracing innovation.
What do you think? Is the MPAA right to say that “The days of Hollywood being from Mars and Silicon Valley being from Venus are simply over?” Hit the jump and let us know.
Last week’s Gmail outage, which lasted for about 28 hours, has once again highlighted a major shortcoming of cloud computing and web-based services. The incidence exemplifies cloud computing skeptics’ greatest concern that unheralded disruptions in cloud computing services might cost businesses’ and individuals dearly.
Some Gmail users – including paying Google Apps subscribers - couldn’t access their accounts between 16 and 17 October. Incensed users expressed their indignation across the internet, while Mark, a Google Apps adviser, provided regular updates on the status of the issue, as long as it lasted.
Earlier this year, Amazon’s Simple Storage Service remained unavailable for 8 hours. That particular episode had also spawned similar questions regarding cloud computing. Companies will have to come out with ways to keep outages to a negligible count.
If you’re a news junkie, chances are you use RSS feeds. According to a new study about the technology, that puts you decidedly in the minority, and it looks like that’s not going to change any time soon. The report found that only 11% of those surveyed used RSS feeds, and that that percentage is unlikely to see a large increase in the future, unless changes are made in how RSS is promoted.
The study found that of those people who don’t use RSS, 81% aren’t interested in using it in the future, seriously limiting the technology’s potential for growth. In the report, analysts explained the problem as follows:
“Unless marketers make a move to hook them—and to try to convert their apathetic counterparts—RSS will never be more than a niche technology.”
It’s not all bad news for RSS, though. The report mentions that feed usage has risen from 2% to 11% in the last three years, and that about half of marketers have added feeds to their websites.
Do you think RSS is doomed to be a tool only for the technological top tenth? Let us know after the jump.
Piracy continues to be the bane of both software developers/publishers and consumers alike. Electronic Arts caused an uproar among gamers when it decided to use a modified version of SecuROM for Spore, which ultimately ended up punishing paying customers while pirates still got their hands on the game through torrent sites from the outset. Is there a solution?
Microsoft hopes to answer that question by taking the fight against software piracy global. In what Microsoft is calling Global Anti-Piracy Day (not to be confused with the International Talk Like a Pirate Day), the company will use a mishmash of education and enforcement tactics in 49 countries, which includes filing 20 lawsuits against software resellers in the U.S. allegedly selling pirated copies of Office 2007 Enterprise, Windows XP Pro, Office 2003 Pro, and Office 2007 Pro.
"One of the reasons we believe this announcement is important is it consolidates a lot of our activities in connection with our partnerships with governments, our customers and partners,” said Bonnie MacNaughton, Microsoft senior attorney.
Different tactics will be used in different countries. For instance, Microsoft is partnering with the American Chamber of Commerce to launch an anti-piracy educational blog in Brazil, whereas in Italy the company has begun an employee anti-piracy ambassador program. Regardless of specific strategy, it's all part of an effort to reduce the estimated $50 billion pirated software is costing the industry on a global scale.
Hit the jump and let us know if you think Microsoft's approach will work or not.