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April 28, 2008  10:36 AM

Video: How to install the Cosmos User Kit

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This video from GoCosmos.org demonstrates how to install the Cosmos User Kit.
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Cosmos is an open source microkernel .Net-based operating system written entirely in C#. The folks over at SharpOS.org, who have also created a microkernel OS written in C#, have reasonably objected to claims that Cosmos is the first OS of this type. Both operating systems can be installed and run from a USB jump drive, which only adds to their geeky cred.

You can get updates to the Cosmos project at the official blog. A Cosmos FAQ is also available at the site.

April 25, 2008  8:39 AM

Videos: The world’s first holographic storage system and how it works

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In the first video, Liz Murphy, marketing VP of InPhase Technologies, describes the world’s first commercial holographic storage system at NAB.

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InPhase is the company that has spent 8 years developing a practical holographic storage system.

We define a holographic disk drive, the practical implementation of the technology, as “a holographic storage device that uses a laser to store data to optical media in three dimensions, maximizing storage capacity by using the media’s depth. Most optical media, such as CD, DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-ray only offer bit-at-a-time surface or dual-layer writing capacity. A holographic versatile disk is just slightly larger than a DVD and can store 30 times as much data.”

If you want a blast from the past, watch the video below to see Liz Murphy in June of 2007 explaining how HD holographic storage (will) work. She’s interviewed by Scott Jacobs for Futurepeak. (Click ahead to :30 to avoid some shaky handheld camera work.)  There’s a good explanation for how the technology works and some historical perspective on its development later in the video.

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April 24, 2008  8:33 AM

Video: Sergey Brin speaks about search, Google, and life at UC Berkeley

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Google’s distributed search model is at the foundation of the Internet giant’s current dominance in search. In the video below, one of Google’s founders, Sergey Brin, speaks at length about his company. You’ll need to turn the volume up on this one.

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It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Google is rejecting claims of patent infringement made in a lawsuit brought by the Jarg Corporation, a Massachusetts-based technology company.


April 23, 2008  9:27 AM

Better Education Through Open Source Robots

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Heather Johnson is guest blogging at WhatIs.com this week. Heather is a freelance writer, as well as a monthly contributor for OEDb, a site that helps students select among accredited online schools. She invites comments and freelancing job inquiries at heatherjohnson2323@gmail.com.

There has been a lot of talk about open source hardware lately and its potential effects on research and education. ETech 2008 showcased many examples of open hardware and offered an insightful presentation [PDF] to those who are new to the emerging technology. Likewise, popular sites like Slashdot and bloggers like Scobleizer have been discussing the growing movement.

The increasing popularity of open source software has already had a tremendous influence on education and the world as a whole. Not only are many schools now making the switch to open source programs, leading universities like UC Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon are involved with developing large open source software projects.

A Scribbler Robot with BluetoothHowever, we have yet to see open hardware really take off. Ryan Singel of Wired feels that 2008 could be the year and I second that opinion. Leading the pack seems to be open source robotics, which has been embraced by several major universities.

Just last month, Willow Garage’s Steve Cousins gave a keynote speech at ETech 2008 about open source personal robots, which has brought more attention to the subject. Willow Garage is a privately funded lab that experiments with various robotics platforms.

This open source robotics movement can be felt on many college campuses as well. Carnegie Mellon, which I previously stated is involved with open source software, is also building OS personal robots. The university has recently formed a joint project called the Institute for Personal Robots in Education (IPRE).

The IPRE is a joint project between Georgia Tech and Bryn Mawr College, with sponsorship provided by Microsoft Research. Its purpose is to help advance robotics research and computer science education. The IPRE is currently selling open source robot kits, which are geared toward educators and can be integrated with computer education curricula.

Instructions can be found RobotEducation.org if you are interested in building your own educational robot.

[Image credit: RobotEducation.org]


April 23, 2008  8:46 AM

Video: Exploring presence technology with tele-immersive dance in cyberspace

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Often the title of a video alone raises an eyebrow. Today’s video selection certainly does — it’s a presentation from two tele-immersion labs, one at UC Berkeley’s Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the other within the University of Urbana-Champaign Computer Science Department. According to the IEEE Computer Society, tele-immersion is when “collaborators at remote sites share the details of a virtual world that can autonomously control computation, query databases, and gather results.” It might be a stretch but I see tele-immersion used in that was as an advanced version of presence technology, in which an application make it possible to locate and identify a computing device wherever it might be, as soon as the user connects to the network.

As it’s a dance performance, both labs worked in close collaboration with the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley, and the Dance Department and Intermedia Program at Mills College. The video quality admittedly isn’t great — and you may want to skip ahead to 11:30, when the actual performance begins, or to 20:00, when the dancing starts — but the concept itself is noteworthy for its aspiration to bridge the gap between real and virtual environments.

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From the show notes on YouTube:

The Resonance Project Dance Group performed for a very large crowd in the Hearst Memorial Mining Building at UC Berkeley. The performance was a blend of live, modern dance with live tele-immersed dancers from University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. Using a large network of cameras and computers the dancers were able to span the geographic distance and mingle in cyberspace. The computers merged three-dimensional video images of the dancers onto a single projection, which was broadcast alongside live dancers.

The Resonance Project is a team of choreographers, dancers, computer engineers, and visual and sound artists who are investigating concepts of presence/remote presence and corporeal and code interactivity within live and media based performance. Unique to the project is the use of a “performance as research” model, within which scientists and artists collaborate to explore a re-visioning of cyber culture and corporeal presence.

The nature of the performance has a close conceptual relationship with CAVE, a tele-immersive environment used for learning in a wide variety of disciplines, and the CAVEman, the first 4-D human atlas.


April 22, 2008  8:34 AM

Videos: Application Design using Real-Time Specification for Java (RTSJ)

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Sun has uploaded a number of helpful tutorials and lectures to YouTube, including this three-part series that features Dr. Doug Locke explaining the Real-Time Specification for Java (JSR-001). The Sun Java Real-Time System (Java RTS) is Sun’s commercial implementation of the JSR-001. Application developers interested in using Java for real-time applications (RTA) should find this series useful.

Part I

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Part II

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Part III

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April 18, 2008  11:54 AM

Video: ICANN Halts Domain Tasting

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In this video, Brad Fallon of FreeInlineReport.com reports on ICANN’s decision to remove the five trial period of owning a domain name. Brad notes that the decision followed Google’s move to block AdSense from websites less than five days old.

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From the video notes on YouTube:

Following Google’s decision last week to block AdSense from web sites less than five days old, it looks like ICANN is removing the five day trial period for owning a domain name. This would stop the practice that was abused by “Domain Tasters” — people who take out a name for four days, put up Google ads, collect the money from the ads, and then cancel the name before they have to pay for it.


April 18, 2008  9:46 AM

Wireshark helps you to determine if your ISP is throttling traffic

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Download Squad to the rescue! The popular and useful downloads blog from Weblogs Inc. posted about a utility that can help you monitor your own network.

Wireshark is a free network protocol analyzer that’s available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD and many others. Download Wireshark here.

Wireshark is long since well-known to networking professionals, perhaps under its previous name, “Ethereal.”

In fact, our colleague Sue Fogarty posted about SHARKFEST over at The Network Hub, an event about protocol analysis specifically for developers and users of Wireshark.

Sue says that Vint Cerf wowed ‘em at SHARKFEST. No shock there — the “father of the Internet” is well-known for that sort of thing.

In his post on Download Squad, Ian Dumych also links to a white paper posted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Detecting packet injection: a guide to observing packet spoofing by ISPs. Check in there if you want to learn more about the practice and how monitoring your own connection can help others.


April 18, 2008  9:16 AM

Video: Sir Tim Berners-Lee on Net neutrality

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You might remember this fellow — he invented the Web, after all. Sir Tim Berners-Lee offers some thoughts on the issue of Net neutrality in this video.

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You can read Lee’s post on Net neutrality, which largely mirrors his statements on camera, over at his blog. You’ll note that the post and video date back to 2006, when the issue first entered a wider conversation online. These days, the U.S. presidential candidates have taken stances on it (Clinton and Obama are both for Net neutrality, McCain opposes it). Accusations of traffic shaping and the uglier-sounding “bandwidth throttling” are flying at ISPs like Comcast, sometimes justified and other times based upon mistaken conclusions.

We’ve asked you before — have you opinions changed? Private networks and corporations have good reason to restrict bandwidth to memory hogs like like IPTV. On-demand streaming of this year’s NCAA basketball tournament caused massive traffic spikes, for instance, resulted in massive traffic spikes. The security risks and bandwidth challenges presented by employee use of P2P networks like Bittorrent are an issue as well.

Once Internet use leaves the office, however, the question remains: Should ISPs be able to institute a two-tiered Internet for private citizens?

Let us know what you think in the comments or by writing in to editor@whatis.com.


April 17, 2008  10:00 AM

Video: Van Jacobsen describes a new way to look at networking that focuses on a data-centric perspective

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Van Jacobsen knows networking. After all, he is is one of the primary contributors to TCP/IP, the protocol that underlies the modern Internet.

This Google TechTalk features Jacobsen describing the concept of data-centric or content-centric networking. The central principle of data-centric networking is that a given communications network should enable data retrieval from where ever it exists, similar to the P2P model, as opposed to references a specific, physical location for retrieval.

Watch the video below to learn more.

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