Are Windows PCs already falling to smartphones and tablets?

Summary: Many of us see personal technology moving from Windows PCs to Android smartphones, Apple iPads and other tablets, but has it actually already happened?

According to, Windows is failing fast.
According to, Windows is failing fast.

When I look into my technology crystal ball, I see people moving from desktops to smartphones and tablets. I’m not the only one who sees a post-PC world coming. What I didn’t expect was to find proof that desktop Windows was already a dead technology walking.
Over at ZDNet’s sister site, CNet, they recently reported on 15-years of I expected this to be little more than a nice historical walk down a popular site’s past. Well, it is that, but it’s also contains lots of bad news for Windows users.
You see, in 1996, when was founded, 89.5% of its downloads were Windows programs. Would you care to guess what the percentage of Windows downloads are in 2011? It’s a mere 28%.
Today, 67.5% of’s downloads are mobile applications. Think about that. Even with Apple’s App Store and Android’s Market getting the vast majority of mobile downloads since they’re built into iPhones, iPads and Android devices, people are still downloading more than twice as many mobile apps than they are Windows programs from


An artificial 'super skin' for androids

Summary: Stanford researchers have developed a stretchable, transparent skin-like sensor that could have applications in prosthetic limbs, robotics, and touch displays.

Credit: Steve Fyffe, Stanford News Service
Credit: Steve Fyffe, Stanford News Service

The wrinkle-smoothing wonder of Botox could some day be a thing of the past.
Stanford researchers have built a new transparent skin-like sensor that can stretch out to more than twice its normal length in any direction and bounce back to its original shape.
The sensor uses a transparent film of single-walled carbon nanotubes that are bent to act as tiny springs. The springs help the sensor to accurately measure almost any force applied on it–from a firm pinch to thousands of pounds.
“This sensor can register pressure ranging from a firm pinch between your thumb and forefinger to twice the pressure exerted by an elephant standing on one foot,” said Darren Lipomi, a postdoctoral researcher in Bao’s lab, who is part of the research team. “None of it causes any permanent deformation,” he added.
According to Lipomi and his team, the sensor could be used in making touch-sensitive prosthetic limbs or robots, for various medical applications such as pressure-sensitive bandages or in touch screens on computers.


Is Facebook already more profitable than Amazon?

Summary: Facebook’s financial details may not be public, but estimates show it could already be more profitable than Amazon. Revenue is a different story.
How profitable is Facebook? Since the young company is still private, nobody knows for sure. Still, estimates indicate the social networking giant could already be pulling in more profits than the online retail giant Amazon. If it isn’t already, it will be by the end of the year, at least according to unofficial numbers.
Facebook’s revenue passed $1.6 billion in the first half of 2011 and saw around $800 million in operating income (although net income was reportedly just under $500 million). Uncrunched points to Amazon’s financials for the same time period: $322 million operating income in Q1 and $191 million operating income in Q2, or $513 million for the first half of 2011.
Palo Alto’s revenue and profit is rising at an estimated 50 percent clip every six months. In other words, $2 billion in operating income for 2011 is entirely possible.
It’s important to remember that revenue and profit are two completely different beasts. While Facebook may be passing Amazon in profit, it’s nowhere near when it comes to revenue. Amazon saw a total of $34 billion in revenue for 2010. Facebook’s revenue for last year is estimated to anywhere from less than $1 billion up to nearly $2 billion.


Google looking to build European high-speed fiber network

Summary: After an experimental trial in the U.S., a Google executive hinted that Europe could be the next home for a high-speed fiber network.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Google senior vice president David Drummond said on Friday that the search giant is considering deploying a high-speed fiber network to Europe, in a bid to widen high-speed Internet access across the continent.
In a meeting at the French Industry Ministry, Drummond said that the company is “looking very closely” at branching out the fiber-network to Europe, but failed to disclose any further details.

(Image source: Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images)
Google’s offer may come at a time when Europe is mostly ahead in the world rankings of broadband speed, but still lags behind a developing 4G network in the United States, and already-established fiber networks and high-speed connectivity in East Asia.


Sencha Launches Mobile HTML5 Cloud,

Javascript Web app framework provider Sencha is today announcing the public beta launch of, its new HTML5 mobile cloud service. The service will allow Sencha app developers to build “shared experiences” in the browser, without having to write server code or manage hosting.
At launch, will provide a set of cloud services, including Data, Messages, Login and Development. Combined, the new services let developers use just a few lines of Javascript code to store data, send messages to users, listen for messages, deploy apps or login users via Facebook or Twitter.
The suite, which can be thought of somewhat like an iCloud for the Web, is now in open beta. It includes a SDK, plus full API documentation.


Amigakit Brings The Amiga Into The 21st Century With New X1000

Amiga, Amiga… why does that name sound familiar?
Ah yes, that Amiga. A strong early competitor in the PC wars, Commodore’s influential and graphics-heavy OS was unfortunately more or less made extinct by Windows by the early 90s. Yet a core group of enthusiasts has kept a candle burning, and here and there you can still find a functioning machine, zealously maintained by someone who insists that the file system or multitasking kernel are still worth admiring. But would you expect a brand new PC with modern accoutrements and a price tag over $2000?
That’s just what’s being put out by Amigakit, which has secured the distribution rights to the long-awaited (by some) X1000 desktop system. It’s actually quite a powerhouse. Check out the specs:

  • Dual-core 2GHz PowerISA CPU (PowerPC architecture)
  • Xena 500MHz XMOS companion processor with Xorro connector
  • AMD Radeon 4650 GPU
  • 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • 500GB HDD
  • 2 PCIe x16 slots, 4 DIMM slots, 4x SATA 2, 10x USB 2.0<
The rest of the specs are here at OS News, with some supplementary info as well. Okay, so when I say powerhouse, I mean compared to the other Amiga machines out there. But it is, as A-EON (the system designer) says, “powerful, modern desktop hardware,” though spec-wise it can’t stand up to Windows boxes a quarter its price. There’s supposedly going to be an Amiga-based netbook arriving in mid-2012 as well if that’s more your style.


Weapon of Ice Destruction: A Snowball Launching Crossbow

There was a time when all a man needed for a good snowball fight was dry gloves and some fresh powder. These days you need to step up your game, with weapons specifically engineered for winter warfare like this crossbow designed to hurl balls of snow instead of arrows.

It's been a while since something from the Sharper Image has caught our attention, but that's because an iPod dock is useless when there's two feet of snow on the ground. But a crossbow designed to launch a snowball up to 60 feet? Well, now you have our attention. This snow launcher's got an easy to pull lever which makes it easy to prime the firing mechanism, and includes a press designed to make three perfectly sized frozen projectiles. Besides warm gloves and gallons of hot chocolate, we can't think of a better way to spend $40 on winter gear. Just make sure you pick up one for each hand for complete domination, since the neighborhood kids can probably only wield one at a time.


How To Make Your Apartment Buzzer Ring Every Phone in Your Home

You ditched your landline years ago. Smart! Because the one thing it was good at—buzzing people into your building—can be done better with your smartphone anyway. Here's how to have that buzzer ring any phone you want.
First, you'll need a Google Voice account. If you already have one, you're halfway there. If you don't have an account, here's a handy guide on how to get one. Once you've got a Google Voice number, give it to your landlord/super to program into your building's buzzer system. Now the when someone rings your apartment buzzer, the call will be routed to the Google Voice account.

Now that your account is set up, head to the Google Voice home page, click on the gear icon in the upper right hand corner and select Settings. Under the Phones tab, add all the phones you want to ring when someone buzzes the front door of your place. Note: You can only have one Google Voice account to assigned to any one number.


Scientists Have Fun With Quantum Levitation

So, has the technology finally arrived that will permit the manufacturing of genuine Marty McFly hoverboards? Don't hold your breath. Despite researchers' intriguing work in quantum levitation, hoverboards won't be showing up on store shelves anytime soon -- at least not on planet Earth. "It would be practical only in an already cooled environment like outer space or a planet like Neptune," noted tech analyst Roger Kay.

"Quantum levitation" may not be a household term, but one look at a YouTube video now nearing 3 million views, and you'll soon get the gist of what's going on.
In essence, it's a thin but solid disc floating in mid-air.
Magic and science fiction might be what spring to mind, but in fact what's being demonstrated is real, live science, courtesy of the Superconductivity Group in the School of Physics and Astronomy at Tel Aviv University.
Quantum levitation is the phenomenon behind it, and the term has been on the tip of more than a few tongues ever since the group demonstrated the feat last week at the 2011 Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) Annual Conference.


Will Microsoft Get Lucky With Yahoo?

Microsoft may have been "lucky," as CEO Steve Ballmer put it, that its 2008 bid to buy Yahoo for $47 billion fell through. But what he might have really meant was that now, Microsoft may be able to scoop up Yahoo for a fraction of that sum, a venture it's reportedly pursuing. Meanwhile, Google shows Ice Cream Sandwich, RIM shows BBX and Apple shows its teeth.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer recently commented on Yahoo's (Nasdaq: YHOO) present situation by saying "Sometimes you're lucky." He was referring to his company's rebuffed attempt to buy Yahoo a few years ago for $47 billion. But that doesn't necessarily mean he thinks owning Yahoo now would be a bad idea -- perhaps all he meant was that by waiting a few years, Microsoft may be able to get Yahoo for a whole lot less than $47 billion.

And that's exactly what it intends to do, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Several billions in Microsoft cash would be joined with financing from Silver Lake and the CPP Investment Board.
Although Microsoft's and Yahoo's search engines are already connected in a roundabout sort of way, an all-out purchase could put a little more kick into Yahoo's ailing search business. Microsoft's been able to bring Bing a long way in its short time on the market. And despite Yahoo's problems with vision and direction, its properties still get tons of traffic. Visitors may skew a little on the older side, but that means more disposable income. Microsoft could get all of this for much less than it would have had to pay in 2008.


A Jam-Packed, Reality-Augmenting Key to the Sky

SkyView uses the iPhone's compass and gyroscope, along with the camera, to reveal on an "augmented reality" screen that shows and identifies what's in the sky in the direction the camera is pointing. While SkyView works best at night when the stars are visible, the app will reveal what's above no matter what time of day, light or dark.

Even if you don't care about stars, planets, satellites and other celestial objects in the night sky, this point alone may sway you to take a look anyway: SkyView -- Explore the Universe, an app by Terminal Eleven LLC, has a solid five-star rating by users in the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) App Store. Not 4 or 4.5. All those little stars are filled in with color. Nearly everyone who bought it (and bothered to rate it) gave it a five-star rating.

I don't see that very often at all, certainly not when there are over a 1,000 ratings.

And the five stars? They're well-deserved.

This augmented reality app, which lets you point your iPhone at the sky to see what's up there, is pretty freaking cool.


All About Jobs and Hiring in Linux Land

"Most developer jobs require current knowledge of non-open software," said blogger Barbara Hudson, "but it's a safe bet to say that most jobs are not 'open' jobs. ... The most reliable way to get a job that uses open source exclusively is to create your own. The bad news is that, as in every previous recession, we're seeing a lot of this 'involuntary entrepreneurship.' The good news is that this time the tools are freely available."

Well it's been a busy month of October here in the Linux blogosphere, with no shortage of news to absorb, react to and fret about.

There's been the ongoing Windows 8 secure boot saga, of course -- which just last week gained the voice of the Free Software Foundation. There's also been the long-awaited arrival of Ubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot," with all the associated angst about Unity and Linux desktops -- a matter that hasn't been helped any by word that Linux Mint is now developing a GNOME 3 edition of its own.

Then, too, there's been's plea for fundraising support -- followed immediately by assurance from the Apache Software Foundation that everything's A-OK.


Google Not Reciprocating On IFrame Usage? 90

"Over at the Google Web Search Community, posters are questioning why Google feels free to IFrame others' web pages, yet blocks attempts to IFrame pages on its own sites. 'Google has so much contradiction in what it wants for itself and what it does with other websites [e.g., Google frames Slashdot],' quipped one poster. 'Do no evil, right?' And over at the Google Maps Help Forum, developers are also begging for Google to allow them to IFrame entire pages again. 'I know there are other options (&embed etc.),' explains a poster, 'but then there is no sidebar which is useless. I really need the functionality like it was before.' Can any Googlers out there explain The Mystery of 'This content cannot be displayed in a frame'?"


Android ICS Will Require 16GB RAM To Compile 114

"New smartphones may be lightweight, compact objects, but their OSs are anything but. Ice Cream Sandwich will need workstations with no less than 16 GB RAM to build the source code, twice the amount Gingerbread needed. It will take 5 hours to compile on a dual quad-core 2+GHz workstation, and need 80GB disk space for all AOSP configs. Android developers are also being warned to be cautious of undocumented APIs: 'In almost every case, there's only one reason for leaving APIs undocumented: We're not sure that what we have now is the best solution, and we think we might have to improve it, and we're not prepared to make those commitments to testing and preservation. We're not claiming that they're "Private" or "Secret" — How could they be, when anyone in the world can discover them? We're also not claiming they're forbidden: If you use them, your code will compile and probably run.'"


Mesa Robotics' mini-tank is perfectly happy on point (video)

The Acer ground-bot from Mesa Robotics does way more than your average 4,500-pound semi-autonomous mule. In addition to carrying kit and providing that extra bit of ballistic steel-deflecting cover, it also scans for IEDs using ground-penetrating radar and then autonomously switches into "flail" mode when it finds one -- digging up and detonating that critter with barely a break in its 6MPH stride. Did we mention it also acts as a landing pad for small drones? No? That's because the video after the break says it all. Cue obligatory guitars, game controllers and armchair gung-ho.

Nikon D300s travels to the edge of space, survives to share the results

If you're going to go to the trouble of sending a camera to the edge of space, you might as well send one capable of doing the trip justice, right? That hasn't always been the case with similar DIY attempts (for obvious reasons), but the team behind the so-called Cygnus "spacecraft" decided to go all out when they sent their weather balloon / beer cooler contraption aloft this month to photograph the curvature of the Earth. In this case, going all out meant sending a Nikon D300s DSLR equipped with Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens, which managed to capture some stunning pictures like the one you see above -- although some got a bit obscured by ice build-up. There's more where that came from at the Flickr link below, and you can check out a video of the launch after the break.

Chromebooks now available to enterprise and education customers with a pay-once option

Google made a big splash when it revealed plans to offer Chromebooks to enterprise and education customers under a subscription model. What's not clear is how much of a splash it actually made in those markets. While the notion of paying a monthly fee for three years, instead of buying a machine up front sounds like a game changer, some people just like the comfort of the familiar. To that end Google is now offering those same customers the option to purchase a Chromebook (with a year of support included) in one lump sum -- $449 for the WiFi model or $519 for the 3G to educational customers, while business are looking at $559 and $639 respectively. After that first year is through, customers have the option to sign up for a monthly support contract, at $5 a month for education and $13 a month for enterprise.


How would you change Apple's OS X 10.7 (Lion)?

Apple's most highly sophisticated OS yet? Cupertino would have you think so, but as with any major update, there have been plenty of quirks to work through in the months following the introduction of Lion. For those of you who've made the 0.2 leap from 10.6.8 (or from further back, actually), we're interested in learning how your overall experience has been. A good move? Still regretting it? What apps have broken on you? Has your workflow changed at all? Do you prefer "natural" scrolling? How would you tweak Lion if given the chance? What apps would you overhaul? What factory settings would you alter? Carefully considered thoughts are welcome in comments below.


Microsoft's YouTube channel hacked

Microsoft's YouTube channel has been hacked by someone who has removed all the software giant's videos and is soliciting subscribers for sponsorships.

The background on the channel has been changed to one that includes the title "Predator Cinema," and a message has been posted that says: "I DID NOTHING WRONG I SIMPLY SIGNED INTO MY ACCOUNT THAT I MADE IN 2006 :/"

The channel's archived videos have been removed and replaced with short clips titled "We are sponsoring!" and "Make us a background to get a Subbox!!!"

Microsoft confirmed the hacking of the channel this afternoon.

"We have regained control of the Microsoft channel on YouTube, and we are working to restore all of the original content," a Microsoft representative told CNET. " We will continue to work with YouTube to ensure safeguards are in place for the future."


Apple posts Steve Jobs celebration video

Following an employees' memorial to its late co-founder, Apple is posting a video recording of the event on its Web site.

Apple held the Steve Jobs celebration for its employees at its headquarters and at its retail locations on October 19.

The video was visible just a little bit ago, but now the Celebrating Steve page says "Available soon. Please check back later."

Former Vice President and Apple board member Al Gore spoke, as did new chief executive Tim Cook and Apple design guru Jonathan Ive. The 80-minute video also features musical performances by Coldplay and Nora Jones.

That event at the Cupertino, Calif., campus followed a private memorial for Jobs on October 16 in which friends, family, and colleagues gathered amid heavy security on Stanford University's campus to pay tribute to the late Apple co-founder.

Jobs, who died October 5 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, was buried a few days later during a private, non-denominational funeral in Santa Clara County.


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