Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Cinnamon Bay SBC for Intel® Atom Z5XX processor platform

ADI Engineering announced (Mar 03, 2009) Cinnamon Bay SBC (Single Board Computers) based on the new options for the Intel® Atom™ processor Z5xx platform, which include industrial temperature products. Cinnamon Bay SBC measures a mere 88x110mm, and is available in three SKUs targeted to a wide range of deeply embedded applications such as industrial controls, digital signage, interactive kiosks, general-purpose embedded computing, IP media display and processing, military, medical, gaming, and point of sale (PoS) terminals. ADI offers a -40C to +85C extended temperature range SKU of Cinnamon Bay SBC to meet the rigorous demands of harsh industrial, military, automotive and outdoor applications.

Cinnamon Bay SBC can be used standalone in many applications, since common interfaces and connectors are included on the single board. When expansion is required, application-specific daughtercards can be added quickly and easily to meet unique requirements for HD or SD video, audio, networking, and other features.

ADI has created Cinnamon Bay SBC from the ground up to bring a number of significant new capabilities to the market:

  • At 88 x 110mm, Cinnamon Bay is the smallest full-function, expandable Atom Z5XX-based SBC
  • First Atom SBC offering 802.3at Power over Ethernet (PoE+)
  • First Atom SBC offering true -40C to +85C extended temperature operation that is crucial to military, outdoor, automotive, industrial and other harsh applications
  • First Atom Z5XX SBC offering DDR2 scalability from 128MB to 2GB via SO-DIMM
  • Low power, fanless operation
  • Only Atom SBC backed by ADI's distinctively strong engineering and customization offerings and uniquely open IP model. ADI eliminates single vendor lock-in inherent with other SBC and COM suppliers and ODMs, putting you in complete control.
ADI also offers off-the-shelf daughtercards serving SD and HD IP media applications. Development kits for Cinnamon Bay SBC are also available to enable rapid evaluation and application development.

“Cinnamon Bay SBC specifically targets deeply embedded applications not well served by existing COM or SBC approaches,” said Steve Yates, President, Founder and CTO of ADI Engineering. “With Cinnamon Bay SBC, ADI enables OEMs to take full advantage of the new options of the Intel® Atom™ platform in a flexible, low cost, extended temperature, long life single board computer line that greatly accelerates time to market and reduces the cost of easily differentiated embedded solutions.”

Cinnamon Bay SBC Block Diagram :

Software Support
  • Linux
  • Microsoft Windows XP and XP Embedded
  • Insyde Software H2O and DIY BIOS
Cinnamon Bay SBC is currently in alpha validation and trials. Full production will commence in July 2009.

Related Post :

Intel® Atom™ processor Z5xx for Vehicle System and Internet Phone

Intel Corporation at March 2, 2009; announced new products the Intel® Atom™ processor Z5xx series include industrial-temperature options, as well as different package-size choices better suited for in-car infotainment devices, media phones, eco-technologies and other industrial-strength applications.

The low-power Intel Atom processor is behind much of Intel’s growth into several new computing-related market segments, extending the popular Intel® architecture to embedded industries such as automotive in-vehicle infotainment (IVI), industrial control and automation, and media phones. These products also enable market segment innovation through advancements in integrated 2-D and 3-D graphics, video acceleration and support for multiple operating systems including several versions of Windows* and Linux*.

"Intel is well known for innovation and we’re excited to see them introducing new low-power consumption Intel Atom processors targeted for in-vehicle systems," said Greg Baribault, director of product management for the Automotive Business Unit at Microsoft*. "Intel Atom processors and the Microsoft Auto software platform will provide scalability for the new era of advanced in-vehicle solutions."

In addition to in-car applications, the Intel Atom Z5xx processor series also targets an emerging category of Internet-based communications devices Intel calls "media phones." The package size and power envelope of the Intel Atom Z5xx series are ideal for the media phone, which provides communications services over IP and easy, one-touch access to lifestyle applications such as e-mail, text messaging, weather information, YouTube*, horoscopes and digital photo albums.

To help accelerate this emerging device category, Intel today introduced an Intel® Media Phone Reference Design that will facilitate development of hardware solutions to market. The hardware development platform includes schematics and validated software stacks.

The new products will be available in the second quarter. For more information about the new options for the Intel Atom processor Z5xx series, visit developer.intel.com/design/intarch/atom500/index.htm.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Sony Ericsson launches Communication Entertainment Unlimited

How many megapixels can you squeeze into a cell phone ? On the even of the big Mobile World Congress wireless telecom trade show here in Barcelona, Spain, the race is on. At pre-show press conferences, Sony Ericsson launches (February 15, 2009) new prototype handsets Idou.

Sony Ericsson today unveiled the next step in its evolution. The Entertainment Unlimited consumer proposition is the pinnacle of what the company has been working towards since the start of the joint venture in 2001 – the true fusion of communication and entertainment.

Bringing together rich content, unique applications and best in class entertainment experiences, the new consumer proposition is based around three key promises:
  • Uniting best in class entertainment experiences into one offering such as the Walkman™ music experience, the Cyber-shot imaging experience, Java gaming and messaging integrated with services and applications.
  • Broadening entertainment experiences by seamlessly integrating the mobile phone into other devices in the home letting consumers share and enjoy top quality entertainment content through a variety of channels including TV, PC and Hifi systems.
  • Fusing communication with entertainment by removing barriers and offering unlimited sharing opportunities, multiplying the value of people’s entertainment experiences through a host of innovative web applications and Sony Ericsson’s unique Play Now offering.
“Idou” is a concept name for this phone and not the final name under which the product will be marketed to the public. Idou encapsulates the future of mobile entertainment in the palm of your hand delivering visual communication like never before.

Capture moments, talk through pictures and share all your experiences like never before with the 12.1 megapixel camera, intuitive touch features and Xenon flash. Tap directly into your favourite videos and tracks with the full-touch media menu and feast your eyes on movies, TV-series and video clips in true 16:9 widescreen format. Based on what will become the Symbian Foundation operating system, thousands of applications are available online letting you install new applications and download exciting content from PlayNow™ to make the Idou truly yours.

Idou will be based on the upcoming Symbian Foundation operating system (the open, royalty-free mobile platform based on the Symbian and S60 platforms) and will be available 2nd Half of 2009.

Several Considerations
Idou will be good communication entertainment concept for the future, but handhone TV and other entertainment handsets have launches on the market. What Idou special have ? We can wait and try it after available on the public markets.

Megapixels are too often equated to image quality. As increased amounts of data are recorded on sensors that are half the size of a postage stamp, graininess and degraded image quality often are the result.

Sensor size, image processing hardware and software, image format (compressed or RAW), lens quality, and numerous other components are all just as, or more important than megapixel count.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Sony CyberShot DSC-G3 : The First Camera offers Wi-Fi access

Do You really want to surf the Web on my camera?. CyberShot DSC-G3 digital camera choice. Why ?

Sony CyberShot DSC-G3 offers Wi-Fi access

Wireless shooters have been around since Kodak's EasyShare-One debuted in 2005 (and won a PopSci Best of What's New award). Subsequently Canon, Nikon and Panasonic have offered Wi-Fi models. And Eye-Fi adds wireless to any camera with an SD card slot. But none of these setups provides a browser that lets you log into any commercial Wi-Fi hotspots . They stick you with just one photo-sharing site though Nikon bundles built-in access to the Wayport network and Panasonic includes T-Mobile. CyberShot DSC-G3 offers Wi-Fi access (802.11b/g) can wirelessly connect to any public hotspot, including hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and airports. Like a computer, the camera can connect to free or fee-based hotspots, as well as to secure and unsecured access points. The Sony DSC-G3 includes Wi-Fi access at thousands of AT&T hotspots across the United States, including participating coffee shops, selected book stores and major quick-serve restaurant locations, as well as hundreds of upscale hotels and airports.

Sony G3 includes a built in Web browser and Easy Upload Feature
After connecting to the Internet via wireless access points (802.11b/g), the camera automatically navigates to the Sony Easy Upload Home Page, which includes direct links to photo sharing sites like Shutterfly and Picasa Web Albums; video sharing sites like YouTube and Dailymotion; and a photo and video sharing site, such as Photobucket. Also, the DSC-G3 camera allows you to access other sharing sites for uploading photos and videos through its Web browser.

Sony CyberShot G3 Smart Camera
The 10-megapixel camera is about three-fourths of an inch thin and includes a 4X optical zoom Carl Zeiss® Vario-Tessar lens. Although compact enough to fit in the camera’s slim dimention, this lens provides excellent sharpness and color accuracy. The Intelligent Scene Recognition™ feature automatically identifies a total of eight types of scenes — backlight, backlight portrait, twilight, twilight portrait, twilight using a tripod, portrait, landscape and macro — and automatically optimizes camera settings for each challenging shooting situation, taking an additional shot in low and bright light scenarios.

Sony CyberShot DSC-G3 Photo Library
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-G3 camera model is also a “photo album in your pocket” and has 4GB of internal memory that can store nearly 1,000 full-resolution or 40,000 VGA-quality photos. The 3.5-inch (measured diagonally) wide touch panel Xtra Fine LCD screen is perfect for photo-like viewing with high contrast and wide-angle viewing. This Xtra Fine LCD screen delivers high resolution images (921,600 dots) that is approximately four times higher than conventional LCDs.

Sony CyberShot G3 supports DLNA
The camera supports DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) guidelines. By connecting to such DLNA-compatible devices as Sony BRAVIA® televisions via access points, photos in the camera can be played back with high-definition quality. In addition to BRAVIA TVs, the camera can connect to other DLNA-compatible devices, such as Sony VAIO® PCs

Sony Cyber-shot G3 Price & Availability

The Sony G3 camera is now available in black for about $500. As soon as a full production sample will be available you can expect a full Sony CyberShot G3 review from us, including our usual test photos.

Several Considerations
According to tests conducted with the Cybershot DSC-G3 by Captain Sean from www.popsci.com , there are several considerations before you buy it.
  • The camera's processor isn't powerful enough to handle the operation -- running both the Web and photo browsers at once. However, you can tag up to six of those pictures at a time with a "sharemark." Then when you fire up the Web browser, you can choose right from the sharemark list (though you have to select each one individually to build up your queue).
  • Uploads are terribly slow, but reliable. The camera didn't drop any single- or multiple-photo uploads.
  • Since you have a Web browser, you can also view photos you have already uploaded to a Web site. But you can't download them to the camera. That's unfortunate, since its 4GB of built-in memory provides plenty of storage for archiving pictures -- indeed, that's its purpose for photos you shoot directly with the camera. And you can't play videos from the Web.
  • You can also try to browse any other Web pages -- though it's an off-label use that Sony doesn't guarantee to work. I was able to do a Google search, for example. But I got only a partial rendering of PopSci's homepage (which took about five minutes to load at all), and I got an error message when trying to view my Yahoo mail inbox.
  • You probably don't want to spend a whole lot of time Web surfing, anyway, as it scarfs up the battery. A freshly charged cell drained down in about two hours -- which is not so long considering how sluggish the browsing and upload operations are.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Gesture-Controlled TV : The New Future Remote Controll

We're all used to hitting the power button to switch on our television but could a wave do it in the future? Both Hitachi and Toshiba are demonstrating motion sensing televisions at this week's Consumer Electronics Show and say they could be on the market in as soon as two years.

The remote control has relieved generations of couch potatoes from the hassle of getting up to change channels, but is there an even easier way? Toshiba and Hitachi both showed prototype gesture-controlled TVs at CES. A small infrared camera watches the viewer's hand movements and translates them into action. Wave at your TV to switch it on, control the volume with circular motions or navigate a large number of video files in three dimensions with your hands.

The Toshiba TV employs three-dimensional hand gestures to allow users to navigate recorded video content. You can zoom in or out from a screen full of video clips by bring your hands closer together or further apart, start it with a gesture and then fast forward or reverse through the clip with side-to-side movements.

Toshiba said it was looking into the technology for possible use on its Cell TV, a TV set based on the powerful Cell processor. The TV is due on the market in Japan this year but the technology won't necessarily be in the first model.

The prototype, which uses a tiny Canesta 3D sensor for gesture recognition and a Hitachi TV can be controlled at distances up to 3 meters (9.8 feet) by simple hand gestures. For example, a rapid wave will power up the set, and a circular motion will change either the video source or the channel. The technology can also discriminate between single- and two-hand gestures, providing additional command options. Because of the underlying Canesta 3D sensor's immunity to extremes in room lighting or decor, the interface can work both in and out doors.

Look for it in TVs in the next two to three years . Now, we’ll all just have to wait and see what this new concept entails. It would be fun to watch the whole family waving and throwing their hands up in the air trying to change the channel, especially if each member want to watch different shows.

LG Watch-Phone : The Most Futuristic Gadgets

While watch phones were formerly reserved for James Bond flicks, smaller tech companies have been reaching to release the first practical watch phone with no luck. Expensive, cheap and clunky - it simply hasn’t been done. Fortunately for tech buffs everywhere, the sharp looks, capable functionality and appropriate size of the LG Watch Phone will make it the first mass appeal watch phone to hit the market.

LG Electronics' watch-phone is a complete 3G cellular phone in a wristwatch-style form factor. The LG-GD910 phone has a 1.4-inch touchscreen display and is based on the WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) mobile network standard. It packs the latest 7.2Mb-per-second HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) data system, so downloads should be fast. It can also make video calls via a small camera above the top right corner of the screen. Other features include Bluetooth, an MP3 player, a speakerphone and a text-to-speech function.

Coupled with a blue tooth headset, the LG Watch Phone will allow for convenient communications with the luxury of wearing a stunning piece of jewelry and without the annoyance of having one more thing in your pocket.

The watch-phone is also waterproof. It's scheduled to go on sale in the second half of 2009 in Europe. Pricing and plans for other markets were not announced.

The Sony VAIO P Series, Netbooks the next big small thing

Tiny laptops could soon be as ubiquitous as mobile phones as computer makers continue to refine their cheap "netbook" machines with new features including touch-screens and GPS navigation.

At the 2009 CES Show in Las Vegas, Sony upped the ante by unveiling a mini-laptop with a twist, Sony VAIO P Series. It has a widescreen 8-inch display and measures 24 centimeters wide by 11 cm deep and 2 cm thick, giving it a form factor that, according to Sony, allows it to be slipped into a jacket pocket or handbag. An advantage of the wide form-factor is that the keyboard can be made slightly larger. The key pitch on the Vaio P (the distance from the center of one key to the center of the next) is 16.5 millimeters, considerably more than on keyboards used on some of the small form-factor netbooks currently available.

Every SKU has the same 1.33Ghz Atom inside (the Z series not the pokier N)—not incredibly speedy, and 2GB of RAM. The built-in 3G is Verizon only, and they wouldn't comment on a GSM version. It's based on the Intel Atom processor and will be available in North America from February for around US$900. That's for Vista Home Basic—you've gotta drop a grand to get real Vista. Otherwise, the 4 different SKUs vary based mostly on storage—60GB starting up to a 128GB SSD in the $1500 model.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

2008: The Year In Pictures


The year was notable for high-profile security breaches -- Obama, McCain, and Palin got hacked -- NASA's big news from Mars, and the comedic gifts of Bill Gates.

NASA Finds Martian Ice

Two Big Science stories gave us remarkable images this year. The first was the discovery in June of ice on the Martian surface and analysis of soil samples retrieved by the craft gave NASA scientists hope that life may have once existed on the planet.

The agency's Mars news was tempered by a setback to its space shuttle program. A revised budget announced in August is delaying the first next-generation Constellation space shuttle launch until 2014, a year later than planned. With Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavor expected to retire in 2010, the shuttle program will go four years without a launch. That should give NASA's IT department time to put anti-virus software onto all its laptops.

Particularly Smashing: CERN's Large Hadron Collider

The other big story with great visuals came in the Fall when scientists powered up the world's largest particle accelerator, a massive underground device designed to conduct particle physics experiments. Scientists working in a 17-mile tunnel 300-feet beneath the French/Swiss border hope to use the LHC to test the Big Bang theory and other beliefs about how matter and mass formed. The massive project is expected to produce roughly 15 million GB of data annually for analysis by scientists around the globe.

Reassurances from scientists notwithstanding, the tin-foil hat brigade railed against the search for the so-called "God particle," fearing researchers would form black holes large enough to bring on doomsday.

But we'll have to wait and see if they were right.

Just as scientists began testing the LHC, hackers made a mockery of the European lab's network security. Days later, a liquid helium leak brought research to a halt until at least next spring when repairs are completed.

So how big is this the biggest science device on the planet? Big enough to have its own rap video.

Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Goes For The Funny

The biggest software company on the planet made some cringe-worthy videos of its own in 2008.

To "reintroduce Microsoft to viewers in a consumer context" it brought in funnyman Jerry Seinfeld and paired him with company co-founder and video veteran Bill Gates in two ads.

The first ad featured Seinfeld and Bill Gates shopping for shoes. The second ad found the two men living with a "regular" family, prompting Dave Methvin to write, "we've finally found something that's much worse than Vista: Vista commercials."

Twittering Terrorists?

Gates fared much better in this star-studded farewll video shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, his last as a fulltime Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) employee:

In October Microsoft previewed its next operating system, Windows 7, seen in this image gallery. The OS is due late next year; a trial version was recently leaked to the Internet.

First Internet Presidency

President-elect Barack Obama made his way to the White House using a combination of television, the Internet, and social media tools such as Facebook to recruit volunteers and supporters, and cement relationships with them.

But the path to Washington was marred by sophisticated cyberattacks on computer systems used by the both the McCain and Obama campaigns over the summer. In September, Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin'sYahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Mail account was hacked and selected information from the account was posted online by hackers.

Tweet Me To Your Leader

Obama's use of Facebook was no campaign quirk. The tool spread wildly in popularity despite widespread concerns about privacy. In 2008 Facebook fought spammers and a malicious worm, and a hacker who exposed a privacy hole in the social network -- and private photos of Paris Hilton.

If a recent Army intelligence paper is right, Twitter poses an even bigger security threat. In a number of scenarios the report contemplates how Twitter might be used by terrorists.

Whether social networking tools are a bona fide security threat remains to be seen. "Terrorists can use credit cards and can openers, so they can probably use Twitter too," said Steven Aftergood, of the Federation of American Scientists. "But that doesn't make it a national security concern."

If 2008 taught us anything, it's that, social networking is pervasive, still spreading, and apparently unstoppable. Even the Phoenix Mars Lander used Twitter to tell 40,000 of its tweeps that it found ice on Mars.

To see a gallery of images from 2008, click here.

A New Web of Trust

www.technologyreview.com, Tuesday, January 06, 2009
By Erica Naone

A protocol that could make the Internet more secure is finally being implemented.

A core element of the Internet that helps millions of computer systems locate each other is finally getting a much-needed upgrade. The domain name system (DNS) works a lot like the Internet's phone book, translating the URLs that users type into a browser into the numerical addresses used to identify the servers that host the requested site.

Recently, this 30-year-old system has begun showing its age.

Last year, a team of high-profile security researchers raced to repair a critical flaw in DNS that made it possible to hijack legitimate communications, potentially directing unsuspecting Web surfers to malicious Web pages. The patch that the team came up with reduced the immediate danger but wasn't meant to be a permanent solution.

For a long-term fix, many experts are now looking to DNSSEC, a protocol that verifies DNS messages with digital signatures. The Public Interest Registry, which handles the .org domain, is implementing DNSSEC across all Web addresses ending with this suffix, and it plans to complete the first phase of the process early this year. The U.S. government has committed to turning on DNSSEC for .gov as well, and the newly formed DNSSEC Industry Coalition is pushing to get the protocol adopted even more widely.

This is something of a turnaround. In the 14 years since DNSSEC was first conceived, the protocol struggled to gain widespread adoption because it was seen to unnecessarily increase the complexity of implementing DNS. The key to the DNS flaw discovered last year is that the protocol was designed during a more trusting time and does not bother to authenticate information. Dan Kaminsky, director of penetration testing at IOActive, a security company based in Seattle, realized that, if an attacker could worm his way into a DNS communication, he could redirect Web traffic in almost any way. Features have been added to DNS to reduce the threat that messages will be hijacked, but DNSSEC adds real authentication to the system for the first time.

Alexa Raad, CEO of the Public Interest Registry, notes that someone had to be the first to implement the new protocol. Before now, she says, the organizations responsible for domain names weren't moving to integrate DNSSEC because they'd either be sending out credentials to servers that weren't listening for them, or they'd be listening for credentials that wouldn't be there. Raad says that the Public Interest Registry started integrating DNSSEC well before Kaminsky's flaw was announced, hoping to encourage adoption of the protocol by setting an example. The revelations of Kaminsky's flaw simply helped intensify the debate, she says. "For the past two years, a lot of the debate around DNSSEC centered around, 'Do we need it? Are there other technologies? How viable is it?' I think the debate has completely moved away from that. We all understand that DNS is in fact broken. The only solution for that is, in fact, DNSSEC. The debate is now, 'How do we deploy?'"

DNSSEC is about creating a "chain of trust," adds Ram Mohan, CTO of Afilias, which has been working to help the Public Interest Registry handle its deployment. There are many places where DNSSEC must be switched on in order for the chain of trust to flow unbroken from the user to a website. Once a top-level domain (such as .org or .com) implements DNSSEC, any website under that domain can choose to turn on DNSSEC as well, which is an important link in the chain. Since Internet service providers such as Comcast have started supporting DNSSEC, Mohan says, it's becoming possible for some website visits to fall largely under the protection of DNSSEC.

Paul Vixie, president of the Internet Systems Consortium, which maintains BIND, the software most commonly used to process DNS messages, expects the move toward DNSSEC to snowball. "With .gov and .org signed, there's finally a market for DNSSEC technology and services," he says. "Now that some others are implementing DNSSEC, many others will want to be in the business of providing DNSSEC solutions, and that will in turn make it possible for a lot of fence-sitters to finally climb down and join us."

Kaminsky himself was initially neutral on DNSSEC as a possible solution to the flaw that he discovered with DNS. He now sees DNSSEC as a good solution, but cautions that work still needs to be done to help it scale up. Most important, he says: other root domains, which are at the core of all DNS transactions, need to use DNSSEC. Although DNS was never designed to be at the heart of authentication on the Internet, "it is, and it's time we start treating it that way," Kaminsky adds.

Mohan says that he's hopeful that more domains will implement DNSSEC soon. "It's about damn time that DNS got more secure," he says. "The integrity of DNS traffic is starting to be questioned with the advent of phishing and botnets and stuff like that. Here is a concrete thing that can be done that is proven to eliminate a clear problem."

Friday, 2 January 2009

Broadband on Rails

By Rachel Kremen on Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A compact lens could make high-speed Internet access commonplace on trains.

Internet access can make a train trip far more productive and enjoyable. But train-mounted satellite dishes that send and receive data can't be used on a lot of routes, as the standard hardware is too big to fit in some tunnels. Now researchers at the University of York, in England, have developed an alternative: a dome-shaped plastic lens that's less than half as high as a typical satellite dish. The system, which was developed with funding from the European Space Agency, is also designed to track multiple satellites at once, making it more reliable than a dish.

"Here in the U.K., a lot of our railway infrastructure is very old," says John Thornton, a research fellow in the Department of Electronics at the University of York, who led the lens research. Low bridges and tunnels offer minimal headroom for satellite dishes, which Thornton says are about 62 centimeters high. Thornton's lens, in contrast, is only 30 centimeters high--short enough to meet the needs of the train industry.

The York project is based on an existing design, called a Luneburg lens. "The traditional approach would be to make [the lens] out of novel materials with certain properties," says Thornton. "I thought, 'What materials are practical and could work?'" Ultimately, the team decided on the plastics polyethylene and polystyrene, which are less expensive than the materials traditionally used to make Luneburg lenses but achieve the necessary performance. Thornton says that recent laboratory tests confirmed that the lens was able to receive digital video broadcasts, meaning that it could handle at least four megabits of data per second.

The York system also offers increased reliability. With a traditional satellite system, a separate dish is required for each satellite, and the whole dish has to move to track the signal. Moving an entire dish is fine if it's mounted on a stable structure, such as the roof of a house, but not if it's affixed to the side of a train that's running through tunnels and under bridges. A lot of room is required around the device at all times, to ensure that it doesn't hit something while tracking a signal.

With Thornton's device, incoming radiation bounces off the surface on which the lens is mounted. The lens concentrates the reflected radiation to a single point on its surface, where it's collected by a motorized antenna called a feed. To track the signal, only the feed needs to move, as opposed to the entire dish in a conventional system. Moreover, several feeds can roam around the surface of the lens at once, collecting signals from satellites in different locations.

Having extra feeds increases the redundancy of the system, Thornton says. "If one of the possible feeds isn't working, then you've got a spare." Different beams could also be enlisted for different services, he says, noting that one could be used to provide live television while another is used for Internet access.

Ratul Mahajan, a researcher with Microsoft's networking group who has been working on wireless Internet connections for cars, questions why Thornton chose to use satellite Internet instead of 3G, a telecommunications standard that's becoming common in cellular-telephone networks. "Why use satellite at all?" Mahajan asks.

Thornton says that 3G currently doesn't have the kind of geographic coverage required for continuous Internet access along train routes. Upgrades to the cell network, he says, tend to be concentrated in towns. "Each base station can only offer the highest data rates to users typically one or two kilometers away, so a truly vast number would be needed to cover all the railway routes in a country the size of the USA, or even France," Thornton says.

Thornton is currently trying to find a commercial partner for his system but admits that it's not ready to hit the rails just yet. In fact, it has yet to be tested on a moving vehicle. The team still needs to develop a control system and protocols for handling multiple satellite feeds.

Software development predictions for 2009

By Neil McAllister on January 2, 2009

A battered economy will mean tightening belts, changing customer allegiances, and the Web as the platform of choice.

What would the New Year be without that time-honored publishing tradition: predictions? By the time you read this post it will be January already, but as I write it the champagne corks have yet to pop, so there's still time for me to gaze into my crystal ball. Right or wrong? Only time will tell. But here are a few thoughts as to what 2009 might have in store for the software development market.

Microsoft struggles to retool its image
Expect more overtures from Redmond toward the open source community as Microsoft continues to try to soften its image as an anticompetitive thug. We may even see an interesting Microsoft product or two running on Linux by year's end.

Interest in Windows Azure and related cloud computing technologies will continue to grow throughout 2009, but Microsoft should watch its step. The meaning of "cloud computing" is opaque enough already. Microsoft shouldn't muddy the waters further by being too liberal with ambiguous marketing terms such as "mesh" and "live," the way it did with .Net.

Also, Microsoft's "software plus services" concept is a strong direction, but it needs to be sure that its developer ecosystem comes along for the ride. As Steve Ballmer so famously observed, Microsoft achieved much of its success through the hard work of its ISV partners. Those partners need to be reassured that they won't be reduced to sharecroppers in Microsoft's service-oriented vision of the software market.

But of course, the big distraction next year will be Windows 7. If Microsoft can't get its OS house in order, it's going to have a hard time convincing developers of the value of its new technologies. More than Ray Ozzie's vision of the future, the company's ability to hold its core products together will be the ultimate test of Microsoft Anno Bill.

Java moves toward an open source mindset
Oracle's acquisition of BEA Systems made it one of the largest players in the Java application server market. But it's still too early to say how BEA customers have weathered the transition. Some might not appreciate their contracts being subsumed into Larry Ellison's software juggernaut.

On the other hand, the Red Hat/JBoss merger has proven to be a comfortable match for most JBoss customers, the majority of whom were Linux users to begin with. And Red Hat shows a strong interest in Java; for example, it has put considerable effort into the IcedTea project, a fork of OpenJDK that improves upon Sun's open source Java stack.

The major proprietary app server vendors are likely to continue to dominate the market in 2009, but expect the movement in favor of 100-percent open source Java stacks to grow as the year rolls on. As awareness of Java's new, open source status spreads, expect developers to view the technology in a different light and begin choosing their vendors accordingly.

Twilight for Sun Microsystems?
Pity poor Sun. Floating the idea of its software installed base as a marketing channel was a gutsy play, but in light of current economic conditions it was woefully mistimed -- as so many of Sun's recent moves have been.

JavaFX is interesting technology, but it's too arcane and far too late to the party to become a serious competitor to Adobe or Microsoft. And as a mobile platform it's stillborn; Adobe has struggled for years to make Flash a major player in the U.S. mobile space, to little success. By comparison, a Sun-dominated smartphone applications market is a pipe dream -- particularly given Apple's well-documented disinterest in Java for the iPhone.

No, my fear is that 2009 may see the beginnings of the Big Cataclysm for Sun. Executive change could be in the cards, but what top talent would risk taking on such a toxic company now? Sun's best option may be simply to sell itself off -- piece by piece, if it has to. Big Blue already does as good a job of marketing and selling Sun's technologies as Sun does. Maybe Sun could become a subsidiary of IBM Labs?

The Web loses its version number
When budgets are tight, the best option is to make use of the technologies you already have and the ones you can get for free. For today's business applications, that means the Web, which will continue its rise as the dominant development platform.

While the Web itself won't lose any popularity, however, expect a little less emphasis on the "Web 2.0" moniker in 2009. For starters, it hardly means anything anymore -- if it ever did. But AJAX and related technologies still haven't proven their value for a lot of enterprise applications, beyond adding UI flash. What Web 2.0 capabilities do make their way into business applications will be the result of open source toolkits such as Dojo, while proprietary products are likely to fall by the wayside -- and that means the marketing hype will cool down a little, too.

And I expect the same will be true of Microsoft's Silverlight. Microsoft isn't likely to woo many significant partners to the platform when Flash's reach is so much wider. Adobe wisely began trying to bridge the gap between designers and developers years ago, and its efforts will keep paying off in the New Year. While developers will continue to pay Silverlight lip service, 2009 will show it to be the HD-DVD of the Web: a nice idea, but not the one that wins.

The economy looms large
Ultimately, economic conditions will play a huge role in how 2009 pans out for the developer community. When customers aren't buying, tool vendors don't innovate -- so don't expect many groundbreaking new technologies to debut this year.

Among enterprise customers, tightening budgets are likely to put the kibosh on many an ambitious new project. But smart companies will realize that process automation is one of the best ways to reduce costs in any business. Now may actually be the ideal time to revisit old software schemes that got shelved back when staffing budgets were flush. Layoffs and hiring freezes will mean there are fewer developers to go around, however, which could make smart projects infeasible for the time being.

On the plus side, while offshoring of development projects will continue among larger companies with well-established overseas divisions, I predict emphasis on offshoring will decrease among smaller companies and first-time customers. Smaller shops won't want to look like villains during the downtimes, especially when local talent is abundant in and willing to work cheap.

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