Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Reasons To Prefer Android Over iPhone

When it comes to mobile phones, the iPhone seems to stand strong like a lone warrior against a seemingly endless horde of smartphones. But is it really worth the hype? Of late, there has been an army of formidable Android phones, which can do everything that the iPhone can do, and at times do it even better. As a mobile operating system, Android has matured a lot and is maturing more and has achieved the polished finesse of iOS. When it comes to a buying decision, here is how I would go about choosing between the iPhone and the Android phones - I would go straight for an Android phone, and here is why.

1. Availability:

Android phones are almost universally available, unlike the iPhone, which is available only at Apple Stores and a select few stores. Also, nearly all Android phones are available almost instantly in India when they are launched worldwide, but the iPhone is available usually after a year, when it is already too old.

2. Network lock:

iPhone has been notorious for usually being sold with a network lock - it works only with one mobile service provider to which it is subscribed, and fails to register a SIM card of another provider. Android phones do not have such restrictions and the users are free to use any network of their choice.

3. Price:

It has become a frustrating annual ritual - a new iPhone is launched, it is priced exorbitantly and is pretty much out of reach for most consumers. Android phones, on the other hand, are a mixed bag as far as price is concerned, as there are so many of them that almost every price segment is covered and you can choose the Android phone that suits your wallet.

4. Widgets:

Unlike the screen of the iPhone that is littered with icons, Android phones have desktops with widgets with an actual purpose, giving you information at the flick of a finger.

As an example, Data Counter widget instantly displays data usage to check your internet usage, while Twitter widget keeps you updated with your Twitter account's status. Take a look at this article to know what I mean.

5. No need for software application on the computer:

iPhone requires you to install iTunes on your computer and sync with it in order to do just about anything on the iPhone, such as transferring applications, music, videos or contacts. Furthermore, you can sync it with only a limited number of computers. Android phones do not need any such application - simply plug the phone into any computer and exercise complete control over your phone.

Data transfer is as easy as drag and drop. On a side note, I deem the SD card expandable memory option in the Android phone to be better than having no memory slot as in the iPhone, because you can carry additional memory cards with you and use when required without worrying about running out of memory.

6. Convenience:

You can instantly switch on or off Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Mobile Network or GPS on the Android phone by simply clicking on the provided buttons on the desktop. This goes a long way in conserving battery life. In the iPhone, you have to dig deep into the settings to be able to enable or disable these features.

7. Better web browser:

The web browser on the Android phone is simply amazing. To know what I mean, you have to use and experience it. It is faster than Safari, has every feature that you expect from a web browser, and supports Flash. Being an operating system developed by Google, as expected Google is integrated deep into the heart of Android. Thus, if you want to search Google, simply enter the search button and enter your search string and the results appear swiftly.

Of course, the browsing experience varies with the speed of the processor inside the Android phone, which means that you will get the best browsing experience on the more expensive phones. Also, we must mention here that the web browser on the iPhone 4 is supposed to be the best around, but we don't get the iPhone 4 here in India and even if we were to import it, it is too expensive. There is also a Google Voice app for Android.

8. Notification system:

In the iPhone, there is a very limited notification system. For example, if you are a Twitter user, then you need to open the Twitter app to find the updates.

In Android phones, notifications are better organized. These apps can access the notification system of the operating system and alert you on the notification bar to a new email, voice message, and Twitter or Facebook notification, in addition to SMS. The application runs in the background and you do not need to open it to find out the status.

9. Apps from Market:

Just like the App store from Apple, there are thousands of apps for Android available in the Android Market. Just about every iPhone app has an equivalent, which is usually free. The good thing is that you need not sign into your account every time you want to install an app from the Market, even if the app is free. And yes, Market has more liberal censorship laws for Android apps - Google does not play the moral police.

10. Unlimited personalization:

Android phones can be personalized the way you want. Thus, you can make the phone appear the way you want, and behave the way you wish.

Depending on what type of user you are, you can configure each desktop to serve your needs. If you are a business user, you may want a screen with contacts, emails, stocks and news updates via RSS, etc. A social network user may want to have a Facebook desktop, a Twitter desktop, and so on. You can even add a whole new desktop if you want and set default actions for different contacts. This is not possible on the iPhone. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Talk with a dolphin via underwater translation machine

A DIVER carrying a computer that tries to recognise dolphin sounds and generate responses in real time will soon attempt to communicate with wild dolphins off the coast of Florida. If the bid is successful, it will be a big step towards two-way communication between humans and dolphins.
Since the 1960s, captive dolphins have been communicating via pictures and sounds. In the 1990s, Louis Herman of the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory in Honolulu, Hawaii, found that bottlenose dolphins can keep track of over 100 different words. They can also respond appropriately to commands in which the same words appear in a different order, understanding the difference between "bring the surfboard to the man" and "bring the man to the surfboard", for example.
But communication in most of these early experiments was one-way, saysDenise Herzing, founder of the Wild Dolphin Project in Jupiter, Florida. "They create a system and expect the dolphins to learn it, and they do, but the dolphins are not empowered to use the system to request things from the humans," she says.
Since 1998, Herzing and colleagues have been attempting two-way communication with dolphins, first using rudimentary artificial sounds, then by getting them to associate the sounds with four large icons on an underwater "keyboard".
By pointing their bodies at the different symbols, the dolphins could make requests - to play with a piece of seaweed or ride the bow wave of the divers' boat, for example. The system managed to get the dolphins' attention, Herzing says, but wasn't "dolphin-friendly" enough to be successful.
Herzing is now collaborating with Thad Starner, an artificial intelligence researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, on a project named Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry (CHAT). They want to work with dolphins to "co-create" a language that uses features of sounds that wild dolphins communicate with naturally.
Knowing what to listen for is a huge challenge. Dolphins can produce sound at frequencies up to 200 kilohertz - around 10 times as high as the highest pitch we can hear - and can also shift a signal's pitch or stretch it out over a long period of time.
The animals can also project sound in different directions without turning their heads, making it difficult to use visual cues alone to identify which dolphin in a pod "said" what and to guess what a sound might mean.
To record, interpret and respond to dolphin sounds, Starner and his students are building a prototype device featuring a smartphone-sized computer and two hydrophones capable of detecting the full range of dolphin sounds.
A diver will carry the computer in a waterproof case worn across the chest, and LEDs embedded around the diver's mask will light up to show where a sound picked up by the hydrophones originates from. The diver will also have a Twiddler - a handheld device that acts as a combination of mouse and keyboard - for selecting what kind of sound to make in response.
Herzing and Starner will start testing the system on wild Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) in the middle of this year. At first, divers will play back one of eight "words" coined by the team to mean "seaweed" or "bow wave ride", for example. The software will listen to see if the dolphins mimic them. Once the system can recognise these mimicked words, the idea is to use it to crack a much harder problem: listening to natural dolphin sounds and pulling out salient features that may be the "fundamental units" of dolphin communication.
The researchers don't know what these units might be. But the algorithms they are using are designed to sift through any unfamiliar data set and pick out interesting features (see "Pattern detector"). The software does this by assuming an average state for the data and labelling features that deviate from it. It then groups similar types of deviations - distinct sets of clicks or whistles, say - and continues to do so until it has extracted all potentially interesting patterns.
Once these units are identified, Herzing hopes to combine them to make dolphin-like signals that the animals find more interesting than human-coined "words". By associating behaviours and objects with these sounds, she may be the first to decode the rudiments of dolphins' natural language.
Justin Gregg of the Dolphin Communication Project, a non-profit organisation in Old Mystic, Connecticut, thinks that getting wild dolphins to adopt and use artificial "words" could work, but is sceptical that the team will find "fundamental units" of natural dolphin communication.
Even if they do, deciphering their meanings and using them in the correct context poses a daunting challenge. "Imagine if an alien species landed on Earth wearing elaborate spacesuits and walked through Manhattan speaking random lines from The Godfather to passers-by," he says.
"We don't even know if dolphins have words," Herzing admits. But she adds, "We could use their signals, if we knew them. We just don't."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cyber Command Blocks High Bandwidth Websites

The U.S. Cyber Command installed a partial web-block on some commercial websites that use “extraordinary bandwidth,” a Cyber Command spokesman said Thursday.  The cyber-ban was at the request of the U.S. Pacific Command, which wanted to insure that bandwidth was available for military operations.
The spokesman told the National Journal that commercial websites that are notorious for bandwidth use, like YouTube, ESPN, and other “recreational websites…that have a low mission impact” were targeted.  The cyber-block is regional and only effects the jurisdiction of the Pacific Command.
The U.S. military aid mission to Japan reported in a blog that phone and internet connectivity were sporadic.  The forward staging base for relief operations, located at Misawa Air Base, reported in a blog post Friday that the Defense Switched Network was having “a number of connectivity issues. Internet has been up and down due to our connections through other places in Japan.”
Relief operations require extra bandwidth at exactly the time when the communications infrastructure is damaged.  Also, it is also exactly the time when viewers use up the bandwidth watching streaming video of the disaster.
The social-media websites are not blocked.
ESPN, Amazon, YouTube,Google Video, eBay, Doubleclick, Eyewonder, Pandora, StreamTheWorld, MTV, iFilm, MySpace and Metacafe are blocked.  Personnel see a red screen saying “Website Blocked.”
“This action is in no way a reflection on any specific site or the content of any specific site; the action is in response to the needs of the military in a time of extreme demand on all circuits and networks in a region of the world that has been devastated by geological activity,” said a statement from U.S. Cyber Command.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Google Launches Android anti-fragmentation tool

Google is consistently improving Android and is enhancing its performance by giving something extra from its competitors. Google has made good on a promise to release technology it hopes will restrict Android’s fragmentation problem, a difficulty for programmers who want their software to run on various devices.
Yesterday, the company unleashed a “Fragment” library for older versions of Android. The library is built into the Honeycomb version of Android, offering new tools to sidestep issues like different screen sizes more easily for those using the brand-new Android 3.0. This is the same version of OS that appears on Motorola’s new Android-based Xoom tablet and will arriving on other tablets.
Technical leader for the Android software developer kit Xavier Ducrohet, said the following words in a blog post yesterday:
“Today we’ve released a static library that exposes the same Fragments API (as well as the new LoaderManager and a few other classes) so that applications compatible with Android 1.6 or later can use fragments to create tablet-compatible user interfaces,”

As far as the Google is concerned Google announced the Fragment API in February:
“For developers starting work on tablet-oriented applications designed for Android 3.0, the new Fragment API is useful for many design situations that arise from the larger screen. Reasonable use of fragments should also make it easier to adjust the resulting application’s UI to new devices in the future as needed–for phones, TVs, or wherever Android appears”.

Microsoft to Launch Windows for Tablets in 2012

Reports are coming that Microsoft is said to be releasing a tablet-oriented version of Windows in 2012. The reasons for this are quite clear: Windows 7 simply isn’t optimized for use with modern tablets having finger-based input. Do you remember the long, throbbing transition from Windows Mobile 6 to Windows Phone 7? Once again, it will take time for Microsoft to bring the user experience it needs to be able to fight with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Honeycomb.
The 2012 release date for Windows 8 is in line with what we’ve earlier heard. Though, a recent report claimed that a tablet-optimized beta version of Windows 8 is coming in September, and now a leading website claims that the public testing of the new version of Windows will begin “at the end of this year” with partners and customers, with the final version of the OS being slated for “back-to-school season” of 2012. With the iPad 2 coming to stores one week from now, those dates sound very, very far-away
There’s a long road ahead for Microsoft, whose Windows-for-tablets will most likely have to compete with an iPad 3, far more advanced Android tablets and a second generation of RIM’s PlayBook. However, as obvious from the examples of Microsoft’s search engine Bing and Windows Phone 7, which has been slow to make an impact on the market but a partnership with Nokia will certainly bring it greater adoption, Microsoft has shown to be a company that knows how to be patient and learn from its mistakes.

Bird Eye View on Exclusive Apple Event

Does anyone miss the most exuberant, enthusiastic and energetic Apple event of iPad2, Apple iOS 4.3 and many more then don’t worry because here I come for you peoples the complete coverage of that Apple event under the presenter of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. This creates that Apple event to us more special due to their appearance and their tricky and funny styles like a cool rock star. So let’s stop now talk and see the full exclusive coverage of that Apple Event below

Friday, March 4, 2011

WOF: How often do you use your computer's optical drive?

[Weekend Open Forum] When Apple announced the first iMac in 1998 many were taken aback by the lack of a floppy disk drive. But it soon became obvious that it had been the right decision and shortly thereafter other manufacturers began to follow suit. The archaic technology was replaced by optical discs because they offered a lot more storage capacity at affordable prices.
With the proliferation of broadband connectivity and cheap USB flash drives we seem to be on the verge of another transition. The idea has been a tad slower to catch on but a few laptops have already dropped their optical drives for the sake of portability. With decent do-everything DVD burners going for less than 20 bucks and Blu-ray crossing the $100 threshold, optical discs are obviously going to live on for a while, but the truth is they are not as convenient as they used to be for consuming or transporting data and many of us rarely use them anymore.
Virtually all of my media and software today comes from online sources, and for doing backups I usually resort to an external hard drive or even the cloud. With that in mind we want to ask you: how often do you use your computer's optical drive? For those that use it regularly, what do you primarily need it for? And for those of you who don't, would you say you are ready to drop it altogether? Let us know your thoughts.