Monday, February 27, 2012

Samsung unveils Galaxy Note 10.1 with Android 4.0, dual-core chipset and S Pen

Samsung on Monday took the wraps off another new addition to its Android tablet lineup, the Galaxy Note 10.1. Like the supersized “phablet” it joins in the Galaxy Note family, the Note 10.1 includes Samsung’s S Pen stylus for drawing, note-taking, highlighting and much more. Sadly, this still isn’t the high-definition slate we’ve been waiting for so it looks like Samsung is shooting to launch its Retina-like tablet later this year. The 10-inch Galaxy Note runs Samsung’s TouchWiz UI atop Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and includes a 1.4GHz dual-core processor along with the same cameras found in the original Galaxy Tab 10.1. In fact, the Note 10.1 essentially seems like a redesigned Galaxy Tab 10.1 with an S Pen and a new processor, which is peculiar since the Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1) is pretty much a Galaxy Tab 10.1 as well. Announced alongside the Galaxy Note 10.1 is the Galaxy S WiFi 4.2, a Wi-Fi-only device aimed at gaming.

Huawei unveils world’s fastest quad-core smartphone

Huawei on Sunday announced the new Ascend D quad smartphone at Mobile World Congress. The company bills the handset as “the world’s fastest quad-core smartphone,” with its 4.5-inch 720p HD display and Huawei’s own K3V2 quad-core 1.5GHz processor. The smartphone features an 8-megapixel rear-camera, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Huawei also introduced the Ascend D quad XL and the Ascend D1 smartphones. The Ascend D quad XL boasts a massive 2,500 mAh battery, but otherwise it’s the sames exact smartphone as the Ascend D quad. The Ascend D1 runs a 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU and has a 1,670 mAh battery. The Ascend D quad series will be available in China, Australia, Europe, Asia-Pacific, North and South America, and the Middle East in the second quarter of 2012, with the Ascend D1 to be made available in April.

Pricing and more specific information surrounding launches aren’t yet available.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

APK Downloader Chrome extension saves Android apps to your desktop

Developer redphx has released a Chrome extension that lets you download Android app files (.apk) directly onto your desktop. It hasn't been impossible for Android users to get the files onto their computers before, but the new extension, called APK Downloader, makes it simple.

Why would you want to have the installation files for an Android app on your desktop and not your phone? Well, as seasoned Android users know, not all apps are available on all devices: you can't find and download tablet apps for your phone, for example, and some apps are region locked. However, all apps are visible on the Android Market website, so with this extension you can easily download any app and then sideload it — something that's especially helpful for Android devices that don't have the Android Market, like the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire.

The extension is compatibile with Windows, OS X, and Linux.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Meet Auraslate, an Open Source Android Tablet for Developers. Mischief Encouraged. Hackers Welcomed.

Auraslate is a tablet designed for developers for only $199 and is made with Gorilla Corning Glass, and comes with the hardware source code included.

If you’re sick of firmware lockdowns and failed reflashings on your other Android tablets, the Auraslate may be for you. It’s basically an Ice Cream Sandwich-compatible tablet built from the ground up for hax0rz and programmers alike.

There are two models – the 7-inch 726B and the 10-inch 1026 – and the 1026 can run the latest version of Android. You can upload any version you want, however, and even the hardware is open source in that you receive a hardware source disk for about $20 extra.

For about $130, you get a standard Android CORTEX A9 tablet from a Chinese OEM that you could get for about $95 if you really dug around. However, Auraslate is promising open source software updates for their hardware and you also get a support community and the source code. This sort of package is ideal if you’re working on an Android hardware project, for example, as you will be able to talk with a community of hackers dealing with the same hardware and software rather than picking up a fly-by-night tablet from China and hoping it works.

The tablet was designed by Aura Design, an Android Tablet Design Start-Up that helps other companies or start-ups develop their own unique tablet for consumer , commercial, or industrial uses. They encourage mischievous and curious individuals to see what comes naturally for them to dig in and see what possibilities this tablet may become.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

MIT Level Introductory Physics Free Online Course

Prof. Pritchard’s education group, RELATE, has developed a highly successful problem-solving pedagogy and an online learning environment where instruction, assessment, and interactions with other students are blended together and where students control their instructional path. RELATE education group at MIT is offering a free online course in Mechanics called Mechanics Online. The course places greater emphasis on solving challenging problems involving several concepts at once.

Registration for the course is open until the course starts on March 1st 2012.

Register for Mechanics Online here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Meet Hackershelf - A community curated collection of legally free books

Hackershelf is a book-sharing/discovery website that brings a plethora of technically oriented free books your way. It was inspired by the tradition of sharing links to free books on Hackernews and Reddit. They have some very beautiful technical books already listed that you can get busy with. Some of which are:
Check out Hackershelf for an exhaustive list. Happy reading.

Colour theory with LESS

Steve Rydz wrote a beautiful post on "Colour Theory with Less" which covers how to find complementary and triad colours using LESS, and then make colour palettes from the results. Read the post here

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hashing for privacy in social apps

Following Path's contact fiasco, Matt Gemmell said he discovered that many developers aren't familiar with hashing, so he decided to put up a post about it. The article aims to introduce the concept of hashing in a clear, straightforward, and no-degree-required way, suitable for journalists and casual readers as well as programmers and software engineers.

His final thoughts on it is summarised below and is a recommended resource for developers implementing social networks:

  1. Educate yourself about hashing; it’s real, and very useful. Use hashing for personal info. Do the hashing client-side, and only upload hashed data for comparison on the server.
  2. Delete the hashed data after you’ve done your fancy friend-matching stuff, because your users value their privacy, and you probably don’t even need to keep the data anyway.

As for journalists or other non-developers writing about social media and privacy:

  1. Know pretty much what hashing is, at least in terms of the Incredible Magic it lets you do.
  2. Realize and understand that privacy and social features are not mutually exclusive. Don’t pull that ignorant false dichotomy bullshit; it’s factually incorrect and laughable.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Perils on VC Funding by David Richards

Spot on

Taking venture capital too early can ruin you, because rather than creating a business plan for a marketplace, you are creating a business plan for a VC. It's just not good for business. Don't get me wrong, venture has a part to play in growth for businesses that require bringing a chip to market, something that can cost a minimum of $100m. However, venture capital doesn't always have to have a place in early start-up business.
Read more 

Hackers release Symantec source code after extortion attempt fails

Hackers that claim to have stolen the source code of Symantec's pcAnywhere software have attempted to extort $50,000 from the anti-virus firm, in exchange for keeping the code offline.

However, after negotiations broke down, the group uploaded the source code to The Pirate Bay. It has also released a log of the email exchange with Symantec -- but the virus-hunting firm has said that the emails were a sting operation, with law enforcement officials posing as a Symantec employee.

The email exchange is from January 2012 and kicks off with a hacker called YamaTough -- spokesperson of Indian hacker group Lords of Dharmaraja, which is affiliated with Anonymous' Op AntiSec. He's talking to a Symantec "employee" named Sam Thomas -- actually a law official, says Symantec.

At first, Thomas wants assurances that the hackers actually have their code. Thomas suggests uploading it using FTP. Yama thinks this is a trick -- "If you are trying to trace with the FTP trick it's just worthless," he says. "If we detect any malevolent tracing action we cancel the deal."

Yama threatens the anti-virus firm. "We have many people who are willing to get your code. Don't fuck with us."

The hacker asks Symantec to name a price. "How much do you consider enough to pay us in order to work all the issues out?" Stalling, Symantec asks how the money transfer will be made. Yama suggests payment processor Liberty Reserve, though "wire transfer to a bank account in Lithuania or Latvia is also an option."

"What assurances can you provide that once we pay, you will actually destroy the code and not ask for more money?," Thomas asks. "None of course," Yama bites back. "If we were really bad guys we would have already released or sold your code."

Symantec tries to make a smaller payment of $1,000 through PayPal to keep the hacker happy. Yama says no: "we can wait till we agree on final amount." So Thomas comes back with his final offer: "We will pay you $50,000.00 USD total." That's about £32,000.

The security software outfit suggests paying $2,500 a month for the first three months. If Symantec is convinced that the hackers have destroyed the code, and make a public statement to say that the hack was all a lie, the firm will pay over the rest.

Not good enough, says Yama. "I am afraid we have to cancel the whole deal because our offshore people wont let us securely get the money because they wont process amounts less than 50k a shot."

Yama has noticed that Mr. Symantec has stopped using his "" email address, and has adopted a Google Mail address. "Say hi to FBI agents," Yama says, perhaps twigging that this is a sting operation. "We are not in contact with the FBI," Thomas assures the hacker.

With negotiations breaking down, Yama says "we give you 10 minutes to decide which way you go or the two of your codes fly to the moon -- pcAnywhere and Norton Antivirus."

"We can't make a decision in ten minutes," says Thomas. "We need more time." The hacker group then proceeded to release a 1.27GB file as a torrent.

Symantec has said the version of the source code in the hacker's possession was from 2006, and no longer posed a threat to its customers even if the source code was released. After the hack was made public in January, the firm instructed its pcAnywhere users to disable the product but it later declared it safe to use after offering free upgrades.

As for the hacker, YamaTough said he never intended to take the money. "We tricked them into offering us a bribe so we could humiliate them," the plucky young hacker told Reuters.


The Cardiopad: an African invention to save lives

A young Cameroonian engineer has built the first fully touch screen medical tablet that could soon save many African lives. He first has to find the necessary funding to mass-produce the device.

Read more

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Double Fine Adventure shatters Kickstarter record with $750,000 raised in first 24 hours

We recently just blogged about Elevation Dock which has just broken the record of being the very first million dollar Kickstarter project, but another project is in the offing and is set to shatter Kickstarter's record, having raised $750,000 in the first 24 hours. The project in question is Double Fine Adventure, a classic point-and-click adventure game.

Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert are legendary game makers from the golden age of PC gaming, having created classic LucasArts adventures such as Maniac Mansion, Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, and Grim Fandando. But in the era of Angry Birds, publishers weren’t willing to take a risk on a new project from the duo. As Schafer put it in the Kickstarter video, publishers would laugh in his face if he asked for the fund to do an old school adventure game. But legions of fans are always asking for it, and offering to pay. So they turned to Kickstarter, hoping to raise $400,000 and offer fans a chance to watch the creative process, pitch in ideas and even star as characters in the game.

The project still has 33 days to go, and so far it has raised more than double of what was pledged. “Additional money means it can appear on more platforms, be translated into more languages, have more music and voice, and an original soundtrack for the documentary, and more!” the team wrote in an update after passing their goal by a wide margin.

Full draft of the Ruby on Rails Tutorial, 2nd Edition, is now available

A full draft of the Ruby on Rails Tutorial, 2nd Edition, is now available. This draft includes previously unreleased versions of Chapter 10, "User microposts", and Chapter 11, "Following users".

The new edition has eleven chapters, whereas the first edition had twelve, with a bonus Chapter 13 on Rails 3.1. Since the new edition is based on Rails 3.2, the bonus chapter is superfluous, and the new has_secure_password method allowed further consolidation from twelve chapters down to eleven.


Rice Uiversity Announces Open Source Textbooks

According to Inside Higher Ed:

Using Rice’s Connexions platform, OpenStax will offer free course materials for five common introductory classes. The textbooks are open to classes anywhere and organizers believe the programs could save students $90 million in the next five years if the books capture 10 percent of the national market. OpenStax is funded by grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the 20 Million Minds Foundation and the Maxfield Foundation. 
While open-source materials are nothing new, a series of free self-contained textbooks designed to compete head-to-head with major publishers is. Instructors building a class with open-source materials now must assemble modules from several different places and verify each lesson’s usefulness and accuracy. 
The new textbooks eliminate much of that work, which Baraniuk thinks will be make the free materials more palatable to professors who have been reluctant to adopt open-source lessons. In the next five years, OpenStax hopes to have free books for 20 of the most common college courses.
OpenStax used its grant money to hire experts to develop each textbook and then had their work peer reviewed. The process has taken more than 18 months and will go live next month with sociology and physics books. The only cost to users comes if an instructor decides to use supplementary material from a for-profit company OpenStax partners with, such as Sapling Learning. 
Two introductory biology texts, one for majors and another for nonmajors, are slated to go online in the fall along with an anatomy and physiology book. Students and professors will be able to download PDF versions on their computers or access the information on a mobile device. Paper editions will be sold for the cost of printing. The 600-page, full-color sociology book is expected to sell for $30 for those who want a print version -- those content with digital will pay nothing. Leading introductory sociology texts routinely cost between $60 and $120 new. 
For students struggling to buy books that sometimes cost more than their tuition, OpenStax editor-in-chief David Harris said it’s hard to overstate those savings. Community colleges catering to lower-income students have been among those most enthusiastic about the new materials, suggesting to Harris that the open-source books could help increase access to higher education.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Elevation Dock Breaks Kickstarter's Fundraising Record

Elevation Dock is a simple to use, quick undocking dock for your iPhone made from beautifully precision-machined solid aluminum and it comes in a gorgeous set of surface finishes, setting a new bar for quality and something that looks really good on your desk.

Not only is it expertly crafted, but it is also a record-breaking product — record-breaking before it has even shipped. That is because the Elevation Dock has broken the all-time Kickstarter fundraising record. The design firm behind the iPhone dock is called Elevation Lab, and was started four years ago by a fresh-out-of-college guy named Casey Hopkins. For the past four years, Hopkins has been working with a number of startups, helping them with the designs of their products. Although this paid the bills and was rewarding – Hopkins described it as “a feeling like no other to see something you made sitting on a shelf somewhere” – Hopkins decided that contracting out wasn’t enough.

The Elevation Dock started out with the plan of only creating one for personal use, that would sit on Hopkins’ desk but that was not to be, as his friends and family all wanted the dock, so off to market he went. The problem with bringing a hardware product to market is one many startups face. To normally bring a product to market, it would cost at least $100,000 up front, and that is only for the first run of the product prototype.

After seeing the LunaTik project take off on Kickstarter, Hopkins realized that the fundraising site would be perfect. Not only would it be an excellent marketing channel for a virtually unknown design firm, but it would also negate all of the risks associated with an untested product.

So far with Kickstarter, Hopkins has seen success that he didn’t expect. While his original funding goal was $75,000, he has now gone far beyond that. Just north of $964,000 as at the time of writing this post and it still has 61 hours to go, making the Elevation Dock to surpass the LunaTik record of $940,000.

Hopkins mentioned that he has thousands of messages to go through, with hundreds of companies contacting him to help them with their designs. However, Hopkins currently has plans on shipping 10,000 Elevation Docks before moving on to his next project which he declined to elaborate on what they are.

With the success so far, the one thing he is waiting patiently for is a call from Apple’s Senior Vice President of Industrial Design, Jony Ive telling him well done.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Java Magazine - January/February 2012 is out.

The January/February 2012 issue of Java Magazine is out and you can read or download a copy here.

For Java to remain relevant in the age of cloud computing, the standards need to evolve to meet new deployment and management requirements. This issue takes you inside that process to learn how Java EE 7 will accomplish this goal.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Free course on developing iPad applications from CMU's HCI institute

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is offering free lectures on 'Developing iPad Applications' on iTunes U — bringing the top-notch instruction of CMU's Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) to learners far and wide.

The course is co-taught by CMU Assistant Professor Niki Kittur and a team of top industry developers, this project-based course will focus on the design and implementation of iPad applications that help users visualize and make sense of large data sets.

Bridging theory and practice, the course will give students:

  • a basic background in visualization;
  • understanding of the cognitive processes involved in transforming visual representations into mental representations, insight and discovery; and
  • instruction on implementing these techniques in real applications for the iPad.

The software engineering topics taught will focus on the latest technologies available in the newly released iOS 5.

For those interested in following along, object-oriented programming experience is recommended.

Watch the course on iTunes U or on any iOS device with the free iTunes U app.