Thursday, May 31, 2007

Microsoft Surface

Microsoft has created a nice piece of furniture: a table. Unlike regular wood or steel tables we know of, this table has a touch screen on it's surface. The new product is call Microsoft Surface. Unlike early touch screens which allowed a person to use one finger to manipulate objects on the screen, the Microsoft Surface allows one to use to fingers simultaneously to manipulate screen objects.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Binary Clocks!

No, it has nothing to do with atomic clocks. A binary clock operates the same way as other digital clocks, except that intead of displaying decimal numbers it shows binary numbers as its output!

Google Developer Tools

Google has attacked Microsoft head-on through it's Google Apps which is positioned to take over Microsoft Office. Although Google has not create an operating system to compete with Microsoft Windows, yet, it has tried to push the open source Linux operating system. Google also has given big support to Firefox to compete with Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser. Google Desktop and its Gadgets are also present a strong blow attempting to take ground from Microsoft.

How about Microsoft Visual Studio? Will Google be trying to give a blow to that too? Well, Google has already started this by releasing the Google Web Toolkit. What's interesting is Google's between-the-lines announcement today that it needs to hire engineers at its Chicago branch to join other "Chicago engineers [who] are currently working on Open Source and developer tools." So it seems Google is focusing more and more on releasing developer tools. Let's see if that will have any effect on Microsoft Visual Studio's future.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Internet in the Desert

Vodafone Egypt now offers a bunch of 3G services including the 3G Light Box which allows you to connect a small group of computers to the Internet even if you are at a remote area in Egypt.

Let's say you are doing land reclamation in some part of the Egyptian desert and want to have Internet access in this future farm of yours. Forget about getting ADSL there, so the practical solution could be one of Vodafone's 3G solutions. As for pricing, a 300 LE monthly fee for 2 GB of data transfer is not bad at all, given you'll just be browsing of course and not doing the heavy downloads you are used to back at home with your ADSL connection.

Folders and Tags Coexist

It's interesting that Yahoo has decided that both the folders and tags can coexist with each other. It has the case to hale tags as the Web 2.0 predecessor of the old folder idea.

Google has particularly made this idea clear by it's then revolutionary design decision to drop folders and go for tags in gmail. In its beta verson of Yahoo! Bookmarks, Yahoo has decided to let both folders and tags coexist. The nice thing about tags is that you can apply a whole bunch of them to a single element: a single email, a single bookmark, a single blog post. Yet folders still have the advantage of being able to nest them within each other and thus creating a hierarchy, something which are not possible in the flat world of tags. Users are also used to folders, which is something convenient to give them. Perhaps tags would do something about their flatness in order to be more competitive against folders. Or are we going to see more web stuff having both tags and folders coexisting with one another?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Google Reveals Search Spikes

Google Hot Trends is a new exciting feature of Google Trends that Google has recently announced. Hot Trends is a daily monitor of unpredictable anomalies or spikes in search patterns. A search query that suddenly receives a much higher than usual amount of hits would be one featured at Hot Trends. In Google words:

Hot Trends aren't the search terms people look for most often -- those are pretty predictable ... . Instead, the Hot Trends algorithm analyzes millions of searches to find those that are deviating the most relative to their past traffic. And the outcome is the Hot Trends list.
The part I like the best about Hot Trends is showing an amalgam of information about a hot query: a graph showing the spike in the number search queries, news articles and blog posts related to the query as well as web results for the query. Makes the idea of mashups resurface again in our minds as a viable hot 'trend' possibly marking the future of the web.

I just hope this list does not become to popular that it would make a loopback effect similar to the one experienced at Google Video due to the presence of the popular videos list.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

IBM Releases Fastest Processor

IBM has released POWER6, that fastest computer processor ever till this day. POWER6 is a dual-core 4.7 GHz chip with a total cache size of 8MB. The edge of POWER6 is that it does not consume more energy or electricity than its slower predecessor.

C++ Contest - Temple of the Sun

Show off your C++ programming skills and have a chance of winning $5000. Temple of the Sun is a game developed in Java. It aims at attracting C++ developers. The game is developed by Sun Microsystems, so the pun is intended.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Autosave Now in Blogger

It's interesting that now Blogger has the autosave feature. When writing a new blog post, Blogger automatically saves your post every minute. It's quite handy and much neater than the previous "Draft" button. The autosave feature is already present in Googld Docs & Spreadshets.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Yahoo Mail Messenger Merge

When Google made it possible to chat from with gmail without the need to use Google Talk it was considered a breakthrough and a really creative idea. Now Yahoo is following suit by allowing members to chat from within their Yahoo mail without needing to use Yahoo Messenger.

Unlike in the case of gmail where you can chat from within your gmail account and still be signed in at your Google Talk, Yahoo signs you out of Yahoo Messenger in order to be able to chat from within your Yahoo mail. I love the chat interface in gmail way better. Perhaps Yahoo email chat will evolve over time, but right now I find it very poor in turms of usability.

Monday, May 14, 2007

More Children in Egypt go Online

In its Internet Shadows article, Al-Ahram Weekly examines the effect of the Internet on the increasing number of Egyptian children that are going online.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

AdSense Referrals Beta

I love it that now Google is starting to experiment with true performance-based advertising. The idea is for the advertiser to pay only for actual well defined gains and not just for page impressions or even clicks on the ad leading to the advertiser's web site.

Google is now offering AdSense Referrals Beta for select group of its publishers. The idea is not a new one, it has been out there long time ago and I remember Yahoo HotJobs was one of the companies that made use of such true performance-based ads by which it paid publishers only if they managed to refer users to the hot job web site and those users actually signed up at the Hot Jobs site or submitted their CV. I believe it was Commission Junction that Yahoo used back then for such referral opportunity.

I consider this as the peak of advertising and that it would entice many advertisers into using AdWords as they will be paying for actual results with zero doubt in the process. It is like paying a commission to a sales man without paying him any salary.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Software Testers in Egypt

India is the king in software testing. Large software testing projects are outsourced to India. India has many trained software testers and a large pool of companies specialized in software testing.

As for Egypt, software testing is considered a relatively new domain. Most fresh university graduates in Egypt specialized in computer science or IT are not interested at all in working as testers or are not even aware of the existence of such career. Due to increased demand on software testers in Egypt during the past two years, educational institutions such as the ITI as well as scholarships offered by the Egyptian government started to offer programs for software testing to cater for the growing market need for testers in Egypt. We still have a long way to go.

One of the main obstacles facing the software testing career in Egypt is the misconception in the minds of most IT professionals in Egypt about the software testing career. It is viewed as a lower category job lower than software development. That's why many fresh graduates do not like to work as testers. Yet that is only one part of the problem. The other part of the problem, which might actually helped in growing the misconception, is that there have been, and still are, software companies in Egypt whom hire some sort of data entry people and call them testers. Those 'testers' are not really testers, for they do not write any test scripts nor really know anything about the software testing or quality assurance process. All they do is just try to find bugs in the system in a haphazard way without any process. This practice has given a bad reputation for software testing among IT professionals in Egypt, specially that those type of data entry people get lower salaries than software developers.

As demand for software testers increases in Egypt and as more real software testers graduate from current educational programs designed for software testers, I believe the software tester career will start to get its due recognition in Egypt. This will have a positive impact not only on the testing field, but on the software industry as a whole in Egypt as it would mean increased quality of software developed and tested in Egypt.

Monday, May 07, 2007

CSS3 Supports RGBA Colors

I've always been using the RGB, Reg-Green-Blue, color model when teaching HTML and CSS. It's interesting that now with CSS3 a new fourth letter has been introduced to the popular three, namely the letter 'A'. With CSS3, one can specify colors using 4 values instead of 3. The fourth value 'A' stands for Alpha. CSS3's support for RGBA color values will make life way easier for web designers. However, we'll have to wait till browsers fully adopt CSS3 and users actually use those new versions of the browsers.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Semiconductor Chips Designed in Egypt!

Newport Media, based in California, USA, has decided to have an R&D facility in Egypt for designing semiconductor chips! Get to know more about this exciting news from May's article at Business Today Egypt magazine.

It's interesting that their presence in Cairo is at Masaken El Sheraton.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Linux and Windows XP on Dell Computers

It's interesting that after offering Windows Vista on its new computers, Dell is now offering new computers with Windows XP on them. Dell followed this by introducing new Dell desktops and laptops with Ubnutu, a popular Linux distro, installed on them instead of Windows. It seems Linux is starting to take over on mainstream computers. This is sure a hard time on Microsoft.

Microsoft Fights Back with Silverlight

Having succeeded in pushing back Java applets and thus avoiding the threat Windows not being as important to users due to ability to use just any platform (aka Linux) to run rich applications, Microsoft had not been able to fight AJAX wich poased a similar threat. Despite Microsoft's attempt evade AJAX and metigate supporting it in its development tools, the great popularity that AJAX has come to have made it impossible for Microsoft to ignore it.

Now Microsoft is fighting back with Silverlight, a new technology from Microsoft that allows the development of rich web applications. Microsoft is hoping that it can make people dependent on its technology once again.

Google Spreadsheets Now Have Charts

At long last, Google has added charts functionality to Google Docs & Spreadsheets. The feature has been in high demand and now the wait is over. It is interesting that Google's addition of charts to its online spreadsheets application comes exactly one month after Google's acquisition of data visualization software from Gapminder.