Google engineers last week presented an interesting paper at the WWW2008 conference in Beijing which proposes to apply its PageRank system of finding relevant Web pages to radically improve the accuracy of image search results using Google. This new technology is being called VisualRank, according to an fascinating story on the subject in the New York Times. The paper, titled “PageRank for Product Image Search,” (PDF) was published by Yushi Jing and Shumeet Baluja of Google. In it they talk about using PageRank to analyze the “visual link structure” that can be created among a group of similar images. This paper proposes to move away from the current model of many image search engine rankings, described as using “the text clues of the pages in which images are embedded to rank images.”
Source: PC World, Martin
Apple has unveiled new all-in-one iMac systems, sporting an updated processor, more standard memory and a faster graphics card. Retail customers will be offered new systems with Intel Core2 Duo chips ranging from 2.4GHz to 2.8GHz. Apple will also offer a new 3GHz Intel chip as an option for built-to-order 24in iMac systems. All the new iMacs will feature a faster 1066MHz system bus and 6MB of level 2 cache. All but the cheapest of Apple’s three standard iMac offerings will now ship with 2GB of Ram. The $1,199 20in model will sport 1GB of Ram and an ATI Radeon 2400 XT graphics card. The $1,499 model will have a Radeon 2600 Pro card, as will the $1,799 24in iMac.
Apple will also offer the Nvidia GeForce 8800 GS card as an option on built-to-order 24in systems. The new offerings mark the first major update to the iMac since August 2007, when a redesign offered a slimmer profile and a brushed aluminium casing. Apple’s latest financial report showed flourishing Mac sales, helping to boost the firm to record profits in the most recent quarter. Philip Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide product marketing at Apple, said: “With the latest Intel processors, a faster new graphics option and more memory, customers now have even more reasons to love the iMac.”
Source: Vnunet, Martin
Microsoft claims that sales of Windows Vista are chugging steadily onward, and have now passed the 140 million mark. But that wasn’t enough to help Microsoft extend its string of lights-out quarterly financial performances. In its fiscal third quarter earnings call Thursday, Microsoft met the Street’s expectations but saw quarterly profit drop 11 percent from the year-ago quarter. However, the results were skewed by Microsoft’s booking of $1.7 billion in deferred revenue from its Express Upgrade to Windows Vista and Microsoft Office Technology Guarantee programs as well as pre-shipments of Vista and Office 2007.
But in a Q&A session after the call, Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell denied that Vista related issues dragged down the Client division’s results, and instead chalked it up to changes in the geographical sales mix and a channel shift toward larger OEMs and away from local and regional system builders. Liddell also beat the anti-piracy drum during the call, claiming that an increase of shipments of unlicensed PCs, particularly in Asia, was partially responsible for a 25 percent drop in OEM revenue during the third quarter. “Piracy is a tough matter, and we will need to continue investing in order to make progress,” he said.
Source: CRN, Martin
The 3G iPhone will be announced June 9, the likely date of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference, analysts said in research notes on Thursday. The 3G iPhone will be the “first of an impressive wave of new products” from Apple, wrote Citi analysts Richard Gardner and Yeechang Lee. They also expect an updated Mac laptop and iPod lines. The Apple conference is scheduled for June 9-13 in San Francisco. In addition to a 3G iPhone release in early June, the 2.5G model could have a “minor casing change” and a price drop to between US$299 and $349, compared to the current $399, wrote Shaw Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research, in a research report.
Those predictions are consistent with a February prediction Gardner made that 3G iPhones will be announced by midyear. The 3G iPhone release will help Apple meet its target of shipping 10 million iPhones in 2008, Gardner wrote at the time. Apple is confident it will sell 10 million iPhones this year, officials said during a conference call on Wednesday to discuss the company’s second-quarter earnings. Apple sold more iPhones than expected during the quarter and iPhone inventories were not enough to meet the strong demand.
Source: Yahoo, Martin
Qwest Communications International Inc. on Thursday introduced DSL plans with faster download speeds, including one that is the fastest DSL service from a major U.S. phone company. Qwest is charging $104.99 per month for a download speed of 20 megabits per second. For 12 mbps, it is charging $51.99 per month. The prices are $5 lower when combined with local phone service. The plans will be available in 23 of Qwest’s top markets, the company said. By the end of the year, they will be available to 2 million customers. Download speeds on DSL, or Digital Subscriber Lines, from other companies generally top out at 10 or 12 megabits per second.
Like Qwest’s plans, those speeds are only available in some areas, where the local phone company has drawn optical fiber closer to homes to shorten the distance the signal is carried by copper phone lines. Qwest said it is committed to spending up to $300 million to upgrade its network by drawing fiber into neighborhoods. Verizon Communications Inc. has chosen a different route, drawing fiber all the way to customers’ homes. While its fastest DSL service provides 7 mbps downloads, its fiber Internet service clocks in at 50 mbps. Cable companies also have been boosting their speeds. Earlier this month, Comcast Corp. introduced 50 mbps service for $150 per month in Minnesota’s Twin Cities region, where Qwest is the dominant phone company. A check on Qwest’s Web site indicated that the 12 and 20 megabit services are available in Minneapolis.
Source: AP, Martin
Courtney Mitchel, of the University of Michigan library’s book-shelving department is among hundreds of librarians who spend hours of each day going through almost 600 pages of some of the world’s oldest books. Their work is part of Google’s Book Search, a project that plans to offer its users access to digital versions of 50 million to 100 million ancient texts. “It’s monotonous,” 24-year-old Mitchel said. Among the books being scanned by librarians is one which they believe to be the oldest Bible in the world printed in Arabic. Book Search allows users to search books through a variety of topics. They are allowed to download the entire text as long as the book is not held under copyright. If it is, or if they just want to read an original, they can use Book Search to find copies to buy or borrow.
More than 1 million rare or fragile books have been digitized through the Google-Michigan partnership since it began in 2004, with an estimated 6 million to go. Although many publishers, authors and librarians have supported Google’s efforts, some have sued the Internet search leader, claiming that Book Search violates their copyrights. Google insists that it is upholding any copyright by only allowing users to read portions of protected books.
Source: AP, Martin
Oh, shoplifters of the world — you’re not going to unite and take over with these kinds of tactics. A Kirksville, MO. man was arrested on Thursday for trying to boost a $517 Viore (yeah) LCD television by swapping the UPC tag with one from a $3.16 bottle of water.
Apparently, cashiers weren’t fooled by the admittedly paper-thin maneuver, and after four swipe attempts, a replaced paper spool, and one PA announcement for a store manager to come to register 14, they had the super-genius switcher thrown in the big house. If convicted, the man faces up to seven years in prison plus a hefty fine… and the lifelong shame of having tried to pull this stunt off.
Reginald Newman, 44, was indicted Monday by the Adair County Grand Jury and has been charged with attempted stealing by deceit. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000 or any combination of the two. He is in custody at the Adair County Detention Center on a $10,000 cash-only bond.
Source: Engadget, Fark
China is one of the most heavily populated countries in the world, but it is also has a large proportion of poor citizens without access to technology. As a result of the huge numbers of Chinese citizens the number of internet users in China is growing rapidly. The Chinese government commonly censors the Internet and has only recently begun allowing Chinese citizens to have access to English-language websites. According to numbers released from the Chinese Ministry of Information, China now has 221 million internet users. This number is up significantly from the end of 2007 when China reported 210 million internet users. At the end of 2007 the U.S. had 205 million internet users. The Chinese Xinhua News Agency quoted the Chinese Information Ministry as saying, “Despite rapidly increasing the Internet population, the proportion of Internet users among the total population is still lower than the global average level.”
The global average for percentage of Internet users in a country is 19.1%; China only has an average of 16%. Chinese authorities expect to have 280 million internet users by the end of 2008. The internet is an outlet for Chinese citizens to voice opinions in a country where traditional new media is strictly controlled. The lack of control over the internet compared to the control China exerts on other forms of media led Chinese President Hu Jintao to call for a purification of the internet in 2007.
Source: DailyTech, Martin
Today is April 24th, and you may ask, what significance does that have? Well, today is the anticipated release date of Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron. As is customary for Linux distributions, Ubuntu 8.04 includes incremental updates to many of the software packages that make up the system, from low-level details like the window manager and graphics subsystem, all the way up to the bundled OpenOffice.org productivity suite.
The new release is also the first to ship with the Firefox 3.0 browser, which is currently still in late-stage beta testing. This is widely touted as the savior of Linux, as it will bring Linux to the masses. I tried some of the earlier versions a few years ago, when I was building a tv tuner system, but opted for a Windows based machine. Nonetheless, if you are a Linux fanboy, you might want to give this distribution a shot. It is free to download, or you can request a copy be mailed to your physical address.
Have a couple grand lying around? As in twenty-four? Good, because you can bid on the rare, one of a kind, hand-made PS3 Laptop, built by Ben Heckendorn for popular tech site Engadget. All of the proceeds of this auction will go to National Cancer Coalition, so if you need a tax break for the new tax year, may as well get something cool in the process. As I eat my pasta from Pizza Hut, mainly because it only costs $12, I know I most assuredly will not be bidding on this, but if you have the money, there is one day left on the auction, so I thought I’d pass along the info to you guys. Please keep the “OMG XBOX360 FTW!” comments to a minimum. The pasta isn’t bad in case you are wondering.