Sunday, November 15, 2009

Go: Google’s new open source programming language

Google never seems to just be satisfied with the status quo, and when they run out of fields to compete in they create their own! Google’s new “Go” programming language is one of their newest ventures, a language which is an amalgamation of Python and C++.

The Go language, in development since September 2007, has been unveiled by Google along with the release of a free and open source compiler. In fact, Google has released both a stand-along compiler implementation with cryptic names such as 6g (amd64 compiler), 8g (x86 compiler), and 5g (ARM compiler) and one which is a front-end for GCC (gccgo).

Born out of frustration with existing system languages, Go attempts to bring something new to the table, and mix the ease of dynamically typed and interpreted languages with the efficiency of compiled languages.

So why make a new programming language?

Google believes that the current languages have run their course. The prominent languages in use today (C/C++, Java, C#) are all based around a similar syntax, and updating and adding new features in these language consists of piling on libraries, with little or no upgrade to the core of the language itself. What Google intends to do requires more than just the addition of a new library.

Hello World in Go:

package main

import "fmt"

func main() {
fmt.Printf("Hello, ??n")

The landscape of computing has changed a lot since C, and as Google notes “Computers are enormously quicker but software development is not faster.” Languages have had to morph quite a bit to take on support concepts such as parallel processing, and garbage collection.

Go, on the other hand has been designed by Google from the ground up as “a concurrent, garbage-collected language with fast compilation”.

In order to not alienate the majority of developers though, its syntax is quite similar to C, and would not take much time for a developer to catch on to.

Go has accomplished some impressive feats. The language is designed to compile fast and Go can compile a “large" program in a few seconds on a single computer. It is designed to simplify the creation of application which can better utilize today’s multi-core processors. The language supports concurrent execution and communication between concurrent processes natively, and is fully-garbage collected.

Goroutines allowed are Google’s answer to threading in Go, and any function call which is preceded by the go statement runs in a different goroutine concurrently. A feature called channels allows for easy communication and synchronization between such routines.

Unlike other object oriented languages, Go has a much “simplified” type structure, which disallows sub-classing! Go offers a different flavour of object oriented programming using interfaces, which Google believes will simplify use.

By using interfaces, explicit type hierarchies need not be defined, instead, a type will satisfy all interfaces which are subsets of its methods. The relationships between types and interfaces need not be defined explicity! This can have some interesting implications as people can add interfaces to connect unrelated types even later in the development of an application.

Go seems inspired by Python as well. Python has been one of Google’s favoured languages and was the sole language supported on Google’s AppEngine when it launched. Like Python, Go supports “slices”, which allow you to refer to parts of arrays using a simple syntax. Thus for an array “a” with 100 elements, a[23,42] will result in an array with elements 23 through 42 of a. Go also tracks the length of arrays internally, further simplifying array usage. Additionally, Maps in Go allow you to create “arrays” with custom index types, and are a native feature of the language.

One consistent point in the features of Go is that it is better to have one excellent implementation of commonly used features such as garbage collection, strings, maps etc. rather than have them rethought and re-implemented in each program.

As nearly all Google products, Go is “beta” and not yet suitable for production use. By releasing it early Google hopes to garner a community around it and hopes that enough people will be interested in it to justify continued development.

Get out there and grab Go now! Like any Google product it has the capacity to become standard for the next generation.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NC State’s New Fingernail Size Chip Stores Data Worth Space in 20 HD DVDs

North Carolina State University engineers have developed a material to allow a small fingernail size chip that stores data worth space in 20 HD DVDs. It is equivalent to 250 million pages of text.

It is far greater than the storage capacity allowed by any computer memory system.

The team of the researchers has been led by Dr. Jagdish “Jay” Narayan, John C.C. Fan Family Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and director of the National Science Foundation Center for Advanced Materials and Smart Structures at NC State. The team employed the strategy of selective doping. It involves adding impurities to specific materials thereby causing a change in its properties.

The research is expected to result in more efficient production of energy and a better fuel economy for vehicles. Besides, the heat produced by semiconductors during the production is also expected to be reduced dramatically, making the entire process more effective in turn.

Metal nickel was added to a ceramic, magnesium oxide. It resulted in nickel atoms, 10 square nanometers in size. The 90% reduction in size (a pinhead has a diameter of 1 million nanometers) is dramatic.

“Instead of making a chip that stores 20 gigabytes, you have one that can handle one terabyte, or 50 times more data,” Narayan says. The discovery also aides “spintronics”. The emerging technology harnesses the production of energy that’s produced by spinning electrons. The process releases no heat. The team manipulated the electron spin. It resulted in harnessing the energy of the electrons as well. The results of the study may be highly significant for all those aiming at producing more efficient semiconductors.

Motorola Droid vs. Apple iPhone [Comparison Round-up]

So the Motorola Droid – the ‘Google phone’ we’ve all been waiting for – is finally here and ready to take on the undisputed king of the hill, Apple’s iPhone.
Thankfully, price watcher BillShrink has already declared that the end cost of usage for both the iPhone and the Motorola Droid, over two years, would be the same: approximately $2800-$3800, depending on your tariff plan. Keeping that in mind, the only thing left to compare between the two are the phone’s functions itself.
A lot of websites have started the comparisons, so here’s a quick round-up for your benefit.
Engadget (with video): “The kinetic scrolling on the Android is much faster than on the iPhone. However, the iPhone still has an edge in browsing the Internet using Wi-Fi and the default browsers of both systems. (But) the Droid definitely seems faster than previous Android devices.”
Wired: “The Droid goes beyond the iPhone in two key areas: Like the Palm Pre, applications can run in the background, and switching among them is a smooth process. And as a robust GPS device it accepts and gives turn-by-turn verbal instructions, making it the closest approximation yet to a total GPS solution that obviates the need for a dedicated vehicle device.”
DanceWithShadows (with point-by-point analysis): This comparison may seem to have been overly biased towards the Droid. Some may go as far as say it was written by an Android/Google fanboy... From the first looks, the Motorola Droid does seem like a serious contender to the title.
TechPP (with point-by-point analysis): It is very tough to beat Apple on the music and applications front. But looking at the specifications and initial reviews of Motorola Droid, it does have lots of things going for it that previous devices have not.

Droid iPhone comparison chart

Sunday, October 18, 2009

SiliconIndia Mobile Application Conference in B'lore on OCT 31st 2009


Just wanted to let you know about an exciting event siliconindia is organizing on October 31st(Saturday in Bangalore).
This is a full-day conference that will explore the new opportunities that are emerging and ask the larger questions of the industry leaders within mobile space, shedding some light on where the industry is headed and how entrepreneurs and developers can take advantage.

Come listen to some of the brightest minds in mobile technology discuss the future of mobile technology.

Arvind Rao, Chairman, CEO and Co-founder, OnMobile
Vishwanath Alluri, CEO,Chairman and Founder IMImobile
Vishnu Sunderam, Co-founder CEO, Interchain Solutions
Selvamuthiah Somasundaram, Sr. VP & Co-Founder, Satnav
Raj Oswal, Founder & CEO, O'interface
Dilip R Mehta, IIM Bangalore, Ex-MD RPG Cellular and HMV Saregama
Prashant Dogra, Customer Marketing Manager, Navteq
Shanker Janakiraman, Director & CEO - India, Symbioun Technologies

Mobile applications explode. Who wins and who loses?
Carriers and handset makers want a piece, too: Where will they go?
LBS Challenge: Maximising Revenue and Engaging the Consumer
Mobile Payment Services: The Road Ahead
Mobile Marketing

Sponsors: Nokia, Sun, Navteq, Satnav
Exhibiting companies: Eterno, iPath, MapmyIndia, Mobikwik, OnMobile, ObjectSol, Satnav, ShortHand, Symbioun, Tencube, Trakut, Trademarkia, Vassoft, Wirkle

WHEN: October 31, 2009 (Saturday)
TIME: 9 AM to 6 PM
WHERE: NIMHANS Convention Center, Near Diary Circle, Bangalore

To attend this event, register FREE at

Contact number: 080 43402031

I hope to see u all there

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Need For Speed: SHIFT

Need For Speed Shift
The Need for Speed series zoomed to popularity with the breath-taking and ultra-fun NFS II, garnering a position as the premium arcade racing game over the years. When it switched tracks with Porsche Unleashed and ProStreet, it was met with mixed reactions: the first was a hit, the latter was the darkest moment in this fine franchise’s history.
The idea of an NFS game with simulation racing doesn’t go down well with most people, with the common refrain being: “When I play NFS, I want to bang into other cars and get that arcade feel; if I wanted realistic racing, I’d stick to the F1 and GT series.” But not many know that the NFS series actually started out as a realistic simulation racing game.
Since NFS: Most Wanted, the franchise hasn’t seen any game that has been a major hit. With the widely different tastes of its followers, Electronic Arts (EA) decided to trifurcate the series into a simulation racer, an arcade racer and an online component.
Shift is the first of this new lot, where NFS is going back to its roots and giving sim racing one more try, undeterred by the calamity known as ProStreet. And surprisingly, they’ve almost pulled it off…
In many ways, Shift is an attempt to convert the arcade-racer to the world of simulation racing. There is a lot of focus on making the transition easy, with the game providing several driver aids to start off. Of course, it is difficult to realise what driver aids you would need and what you wouldn’t; but NFS has you covered there.
Need For Speed Shift
Kicking off your campaign, you first need to figure out how good a driver you are and equip your car with driving aids accordingly. Taking a test lap around a circuit, your team’s engineers figure out your driving style (‘casual’ or ‘pro’) based on the mistakes you made, and give you a few driving aids accordingly. The Pro drivers, obviously, have no driving aids and will be on their own, while casual drivers will get help when it comes to braking, handling, etc.
This is a great way to ease an arcade racer into the simulation game. When playing games like Formula 1 for the first time, I had a horrible time figuring out which driving aids to enable and which to disable, learning the ropes slowly as I went along, leading to a tedious and tiresome experience. But NFS: Shift is downright intuitive, smartly figuring out your level of racing and providing you with suitable aids.
The good part about this system is that the game also slowly asks you to remove some of the aids as you progress. Slowly, but surely, you can kick off the training wheels to handle a car by yourself – and it’s a road worth travelling.
The switch from arcade to simulation racing has also been boosted by introducing two driving profiles: aggression and precision. When most arcade racers are first shown a simulation game, the biggest shock and subsequent turn-off for them is the inability to play ‘bumper cars’.
NFS: Shift does away with this, allowing drivers to adopt an aggressive style which has them sending other cars flying off the circuit. In fact, you can even earn points for the same as you progress!
This is all thanks to a new medal and experience system introduced into the game, which seems like it’s put in to make up for the lack of a storyline. After all, there has to be something to the game more than ‘Finish the race on top, rinse and repeat till bored’.
Need For Speed Shift
The profile points and medals raise your ‘driver level’, unlocking various challenges, cars and other goodies along the way; but you will have to stick to either aggression or precision in your style of racing. Each podium finish earns you a certain amount of stars, so get as many as you can of those!
The precision profile is very easy to achieve when you start off with all your driver aids switched on, but as you shed them one by one, it gets more and more difficult. The style requires you to stick to the best racing line possible, indicated on the track in front of you at all times.
The speed required on the line also plays a part in determining your points, and is depicted by the line switching between three colours in real-time: green (accelerate), yellow (coast) and red (brake). The real-time switch is absolutely brilliant, helping you learn how to tackle corners and hairpin bends as you make your way across the various circuits.
Need For Speed Shift
The artificial intelligence you are pitted against plays a huge role in bringing these races to life, as Need For Speed’s two distinctive racing profiles for you also apply to your opponents. So you will come across drivers who have an aggressive racing style and given an opportunity, they will try to take you out rather than overtake you! Meanwhile, others will stick to the racing line like maniacs, shifting between gears with a precision that you can only marvel at as you come in second.
This adds a lot of spice to what could otherwise have been just another mind-numbing ‘beat your opponents’ fare. What’s more, as you keep racing, you will come across the same drivers over and over, helping you figure out their style. It’s not as good as racing against a friend, but this is the closest that A.I. has ever gotten.
And if you are craving for a boss battle, NFS: Shift isn’t going to disappoint. Unlocking regional grand events will have you taking on the premier driver in that area; and as usual, his car can be yours by the end of it!
The circuits and tracks have been a recurring problem for Need For Speed, and by far the biggest goof-up in ProStreet. Designing a track is an art form: it requires a combination of various factors, such as the limitations of cars, driving styles, technical issues and an intuitive sense of how to make it all look good. You can put an F1 race at night and place it in the wonderful city of Singapore, but with the horrible turf and track layout, it makes for a boring grand prix to watch.
Thankfully, with NFS: Shift, the developers have got this part right, mostly because they have stuck to various famous F1, Formula 3 and Formula Nippon tracks from around the world. Recreating these wonderful tracks and getting to drive some of the best sports cars on them is an experience you won’t forget.
Can you imagine the sheer delight of getting behind the wheel of a Porsche Cayman and rocketing across the brilliant F1 track at Spa, zooming down from over 300km/h to take that famous hairpin bend? That alone is reason enough to give NFS: Shift a try!
The best part about NFS: Shift, though, is the fact that it lets you get into several high-end cars pretty early on in the game.
The game does employ the usual stratagem of ‘win a race, get some dollars, buy a car and pimp it out’. And that itself has a huge amount of cars available across four tiers, which you unlock as you progress. But even while you are on Tier 1, you can’t help but check out the goodies that lie in wait for you, right? In NFS: Shift, you could end up taking some of these out for a ride early on!
Developers Slightly Mad Studios and EA Black Box hit upon the wonderful idea of ‘International Races’ – a mechanism similar to NFS: Porsche’s ‘Factory Mode’ – which are unlocked when you earn more profile points. These are race events organised by manufacturers to pit their cars against one another, or against cars from their own stable.
So early on in the game, when you are driving a junky Nissan GT or some such, you have the opportunity to race two Lamborghinis against each other, or see which is the faster car between an Ford GT and a Dodge Viper SRT10.
Apart from helping to break the monotony of your current car, this lets you get a feel of how much diversity the game has to offer. The handling of each car is noticeably different, providing a great gaming experience overall.
The one disappointing factor about the game is the variety in race events. The Need For Speed series has brought some of the most challenging and varied racing events to the world of virtual motorsports, but Shift falls well short of the bar in this area.
There are five basic types of races: standard races, same-car races, time trials, drift mode and duels. None of these events bring anything new to the table; in fact, if it wasn’t for the variety of tracks available, this lack of change would have made the game boring within the first 10 races. And an NFS game without Drag races? Blasphemy!
Need For Speed Shift
The only change, as such, is in the duels. The format is the same as that which was introduced in NFS: Carbon’s ‘Canyon Duel’ – you and an opponent go head-to-head, with the winner being him who finishes first or develops a predetermined lead to the second-placed driver. The slight change is that duels are a ‘best of three’ event this time, with you started ahead in one, starting behind in the second, and starting on par in the third.
The lack of innovation on-track is an extremely disappointing factor, but could be chalked up as the developers not wanting to change too many things when trying to lure arcade racers from their dark, underground night-races to the bright and sunny world of simulation racing.
What can’t be forgiven is the absolute lack of attention that Slightly Mad Studios has given to the graphics and audio departments.
Right off the bat, let’s be clear: the graphics aren’t bad. By any base of modern video game standards, this is good enough – but perhaps not for the year it’s being released in. What is horrible to see is how incredibly demanding it is on a system.
Checking it out on a PS3 and an Xbox 360, NFS: Shift does not look that much more superior than some of the games we have already seen a long time ago, such as Race Driver: Grid and Project Gotham Racing 4. And when it comes to the motion blurs that accompany a nitrous boost, it’s amazing how Burnout Paradise still manages to look so much better even after a year!
Need For Speed Shift
NFS: Shift does look a lot better on the PC than either console, which is not surprising as most modern PC systems will offer better bang-for-buck in the graphics department. What is downright frustrating is how resource-intensive the game is.
Burnout Paradise and NFS: Undercover run perfectly with all settings set to high and resolution at 1680x1050 on the test system, which has a 2.6GHz Core2Duo, 512MB GTX 275 graphics card, 2GB RAM. Throw in NFS: Shift on it, and the game coughs and wheezes till the resolution is taken down a notch and all other settings are put to medium.
The high demands would have been understandable if it brought a lot more to the table than previous NFS games, but with only a slight boost in the graphics department, the additional resources needed are simply not justifiable.
As for the audio, the lesser said the better. Sure, all the cars sound different, but the absolute monotony this creates is incredibly annoying. The horrible RJ in ProStreet may have made you want to throw a brick at your screen, but the silence that Shift proudly sports is unnerving and boring.
All put together, Need For Speed: Shift isn’t the wild ride that we have come to expect from the franchise. It’s an emperor trying out new clothes, while still trying to make the followers accept the change in garments.
Taken in the context of a game that is meant to build a franchise of simulation-based racing games, NFS: Shift is the perfect introductory point for arcade racing fans to get into this new groove. Race Driver: Grid was the only other game that made the transition as simple as this.
In a way, this is EA’s attempt to make another slow transition, buoyed by the success of changing the super-fun FIFA 2006 into the now super-serious FIFA 2009 and FIFA 2010, which has seen Pro Evolution Soccer quaking in its boots.
All indications point to this new game doing the same for the Need For Speed franchise, as it courts arcade racers to simulation gaming, and serious sim racers to the world of NFS. The title almost sums up the message of this review: Shift!
Need For Speed Shift

Wacom brings multi-touch to your ageing PC

Wacom Bamboo Touch

Wacom, the leading manufacturer of graphic tablet interfaces for computers has announced availability of its new line of Wacom Bamboo tablets, which now offer multi-touch functionality.

One of the most frustrating things about new technology innovations is that to take advantage of them, you need to make a significant investment. Windows 7 brings multi-touch capability, however without a multi-touch input device the functionality is useless, till now it meant an rather large investment on a multi-touch screen, . Now with Wacom's latest Bamboo series, you can add multi-touch capability to your computer, even if it runs Windows XP, and for a much more affordable sum.

Wacom's Bamboo line of tablets is intended for the hobbyist, who can use the precision and sensitivity of the tablets for day-to-day tasks, but would shy away from the heavy investment required for Intuos or Cintiq.

Now with the launch of their new multi-touch products they plan to expand their market even further, to the average consumer. The Bamboo tablets provide two finger multi-touch support using a capacitive sensor, and support gestures similar to those of Apple products. The second generation Bamboo line now comes in four flavours, Bamboo, Bamboo Fun, Bamboo Touch, and Bamboo Pen.

The Bamboo and Bamboo Fun offer both touch and pen interfaces. They can automatically switch between pen and touch mode of operation, giving you maximum benifits of both. Bamboo Fun is a larger variant of Bamboo.

The Bamboo Touch is a touch only tablet, which is aimed at people who wish to get the multi-touch experience on their computer but don't need the pen functionality for their purposes. It is essentially the cheapest way to get basic multi-touch functionality on your computer.

The Bamboo Pen is a pen only tablet, essentially the same as the first generation Bamboo products.

The Bamboo Touch and Bamboo pen, which both provide only single touch / pen functionality, are expected to retail at Rs. 4,950 for either of them, while the Bamboo and Bamboo Fun will retail at Rs. 7,200 and Rs. 12,500 respectively.

Sony India launches two new Walkman PMPs with built-in speakers

Sony Walkman NWZ-S540

Sony India has expanded its Walkman Video MP3 player family with the new NWZ-S540 and the NWZ-E440 series – promising superior audio and visual entertainment on-the-go with enhanced Sony audio technologies.

The 4GB Sony Walkman NWZ-S540 is available in a solid black body for Rs. 6,990. Meanwhile, the E440 comes with several different colours (red, pink, violet, black) and costs Rs. 5,990 for the 4GB model and Rs. 6,990 for the 8GB model.

Sony Walkman NWZ-E440

Sony Walkman NWZ-E440