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Monday, August 28, 2006

Google Makes Its Move: Office 2.0

Google has deployed the first pieces of its upcoming Office suite. They’ve launched Google Apps for your Domain, a set of Google services targeted to small and mid sized companies. With the new service, companies can use Gmail, Talk, Calendar and Page Creator under a single control panel. Applications and data will be hosted by Google, for free, with ad support.
And that’s just the first move. According to
Aaron Ricadela at InformationWeek, Google will soon add their Writely and Spreadsheet products to the suite, add collaboration tools that will work across platforms, and even provide technical support.
And when Gmail users send office documents, Google will prompt them to open the documents in Google’s new suite, allowing for collaboration and, presumably, making money from advertising.
This is a bold move by Google. They are striking hard at a nearly $12 billion/year Microsoft revenue stream. And they are clearly trying to get this out the door fast, in anticipation of Microsoft Office 2007, which will include collaboration features for businesses (as does
Office Live, announced last year).
Customers clearly want Office documents stored on servers instead of, or in addition to, local storage. And while it’s not clear that there is great demand yet for online creation of documents (the experience is still nowhere near as good as the desktop products), the ability to collaborate on reviewing and editing documents is important, and this must occur online to be effective.
Google and Microsoft are approaching this from very different positions. Google has a clean slate but has to play catch up in customer acquisition and in building compelling functionality. And while Microsoft has a lock on customers at this point, their need to protect a huge revenue stream puts them at a distinct disadvantage. Who wins this fight could very easily be settled in the next 12 months, after Office 2007 and Vista hit the market and Google fleshes out its offering. But regardless if the result is that the cost of creating office based documents falls, the consumer wins.
And while all of this is going on,
Zoho is quietly building a really excellent online office suite of its own. Any of the other big guys could also quickly enter this game with a timely acquisition.
This was seized 4 u at TechCrunch

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Our solar system has eight planets and Pluto is one of three additional dwarf planets!

Astronomers meeting in the Czech capital have voted to strip Pluto of its status as a planet. About 2,500 experts were in Prague for the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) general assembly. The scientists rejected a proposal that would have retained Pluto as a planet and brought three other objects into the cosmic club. Pluto has been considered a planet since its discovery in 1930 by the American Clyde Tombaugh. The ninth planet will now effectively be airbrushed out of school and university textbooks.
"The eight planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune," said the IAU resolution, which was passed following a week of stormy debate. Professor Iwan Williams chaired the IAU working group that has been working over recent months to define the term "planet". "I have a slight tear in my eye today, yes; but at the end of the day we have to describe the Solar System as it really is, not as we would like it to be," the Queen Mary University of London, UK, scientist told the BBC. The initial proposal put before the IAU to raise the number of planets in the Solar System to 12 - adding the asteroid Ceres, Pluto's "moon" Charon and the distant object known as 2003 UB313 - met with opposition. Robin Catchpole, of the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, UK, told the BBC News website: "My own personal opinion was to leave things as they were; I met Clyde Tombaugh and thought how nice it was to shake hands with someone who had discovered a planet. "But since the IAU brought out the proposal for new planets I had been against it - it was going to be very confusing. The best of the alternatives was to leave the major planets as they are and then demote Pluto. So I think this is a far superior situation." Louis Friedman, executive director of the Planetary Society in California, US, commented: "The classification doesn't matter. Pluto - and all Solar System objects - are mysterious and exciting new worlds that need to be explored and better understood."
Amid dramatic scenes which saw astronomers waving yellow ballot papers in the air, the IAU meeting voted through new definition criteria. They agreed that to qualify as a planet, a celestial body must be in orbit around a star while not itself being a star. It also must be large enough in mass "for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a... nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit." Pluto was automatically disqualified because its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune's. It will now join a new category of "dwarf planets". Pluto's status has been contested for many years as it is further away and considerably smaller than the eight other "traditional" planets in our Solar System. Its orbit around the Sun is also highly inclined to the plane of those big planets. In addition, since the early 1990s, astronomers have found several objects of comparable size to Pluto in an outer region of the Solar System called the Kuiper Belt. Some astronomers have long argued that Pluto belongs with this population of small, icy worlds. Allowances were once made for Pluto on account of its size. At just 2,360km (1,467 miles) across, Pluto is smaller even than some moons in the Solar System. But until recently, it was still the biggest known object in the Kuiper Belt. That changed with the discovery of 2003 UB313 by Professor Mike Brown and colleagues at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). After being measured with the Hubble Space Telescope, it was shown to be some 3,000km (1,864 miles) in diameter, making it larger than Pluto. Named after the god of the underworld in Roman mythology, Pluto orbits the Sun at an average distance of 5.9 billion kilometres (3.7 billion miles) taking 247.9 Earth years to complete a single circuit of the Sun. An unmanned US spacecraft, New Horizons, is due to fly by Pluto and the Kuiper Belt in 2015.

This was seized 4 u at BBC

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Online feed reader comparision

Syndication is a the heartbeat of the web 2.0 movement and a feed reader, the most common solution to consuming syndicated content. I have (mis)used Netvibes for this purpose until now. I'm subscribing approximately 50 feeds which exceed what Netvibes should be used for. I wanted furthermore to have an online feed reader with some more options then just scanning the last 8 posts from a given feed but must admit that Netvibes acts very speedy which is an important criteria for me too.
I looked for online feed readers on my favorite search engine and the only useful output that I got was a comparison from TechCrunch. This post is focused solely on web-based feed readers and includes the big guys plus some up and coming readers: Attensa Online, Bloglines, FeedLounge, Google Reader, Gritwire, News Alloy, NewsGator Online, Pluck Web Edition & Rojo. All the web-based feed readers reviewed by TechCrunch are free except for FeedLounge, which charges $5 per month and I checked them all.
Gritwire (the only Flash based application) was the first one out of scope, because it did not work at all and the company seems to have other intentions. NewsGator, Pluck and Rojo went of my list very fast because they did not meet my needs at all. Unfortunately I was discontent with all featured products. The update speed of all except FeedLounge & Google Reader was quite slow but anyway, I took also Bloglines, Attensa & News Alloy into my consideration. Attensa failed to load stories for more then one day, so that one was skipped fast. The Google Reader was very fast (the no. 1) but the interface is absolutely useless for me. I stayed a while with Bloglines and News Alloy but found the design in combination with the slow feed-load times made them losers to.
Which kept Feedlounge as the only satisfying solution? But FeedLounge had one disadvantage: I could take a test-drive on a test system but I could not check the real thing. You have to signup and pay at last $ 5 for the first month and it stated "No Refunds" in bold letters. Yes, I have the money, but I don’t like that attitude and I don’t want to pay for my online feed reader.
The TechCrunch comparison is from March 2006. I went on to a search for more online feed readers and found that a French newcomer "FeedShow" was launched March 2006 gave it a try and voilá: This one is very speedy (as speedy as Netvibes and even faster than the Google Reader) it has useful features, a good and adjustable design and some nice goodies on top. (Ok - I miss a "unread items aggregated feed" but I’m sure to get that in a near future ;-) and I think that they have to revise their business model - they will also need a revenue as time goes by.)
Conclusion: FeedShow is my recommendation if you need an online feed reader.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Extraordinary Dymaxion Automobile

Imagine a car that seats eleven passengers, turns on a dime, has excellent fuel efficiency, and cruises happily at 120 miles per hour. A man named Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller imagined and designed such a car, and in 1933, several fully capable prototypes were built for Chrysler. This sleek, aerodynamic vehicle was called the Dymaxion.

This was seized 4 u at Damn Interesting

Is Pluto a planet?

Astronomers are gathering in the Czech capital, Prague, hoping to define exactly what counts as a planet. Experts are divided over whether Pluto - further away and considerably smaller than the eight other planets in our solar system - deserves the title. The stakes were raised when a bigger planet-type body, known as 2003 UB313, was discovered by a US astronomer. Now delegates to the Prague conference are being asked to agree on a formal definition of what is a planet for the first time. One potential outcome of the meeting would be the promotion of 2003 UB313 - nicknamed Xena - into the exclusive club of "official" planets. But Pluto's status as the ninth planet could also be in danger if the experts decide it no longer makes the grade. There are suggestions the scientists could decide to include Pluto in a new classification system that marks it out as different to the eight larger planets. The meeting is due to last until August 25. Read more...
This was seized 4 u at BBC

Friday, August 04, 2006

A pair of strange new worlds floating through space

A pair of strange new worlds that blur the boundaries between planets and stars have been discovered beyond our Solar System. A few dozen such objects have been identified in recent years but this is the first set of "twins". Dubbed "planemos", they circle each other rather than orbiting a star. Their existence challenges current theories about the formation of planets and stars, astronomers report in the journal Science.
"This is a truly remarkable pair of twins - each having only about 1% the mass of our Sun," said Ray Jayawardhana of the University of Toronto, co-author of the Science paper."Its mere existence is a surprise, and its origin and fate a bit of a mystery." The pair belongs to what some astronomers believe is a new class of planet-like objects floating through space; so-called planetary mass objects, or "planemos", which are not bound to stars. They appear to have been forged from a contracting gas cloud, in a similar way to stars, but are much too cool to be true stars. And while they have similar masses to many of the giant planets discovered beyond our Solar System (the largest weighs in at 14 times the mass of Jupiter and the other is about seven times more massive), they are not thought to be true planets either. "We are resisting the temptation to call it a 'double planet' because this pair probably didn't form the way that planets in our Solar System did," said co-researcher Valentin Ivanov of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Santiago, Chile.
The two objects have similar spectra and colours, suggesting that they formed at the same time about a million years ago. They are separated by about six times the distance between the Sun and Pluto, and can be found in the Ophiuchus star-forming region some 400 light years away. "Recent discoveries have revealed an amazing diversity of worlds out there," said Dr Jayawardhana. "Still, this pair stands out as one of the most intriguing, if not peculiar." His colleague, Dr Ivanov, said they were curious to find out whether such pairs are common or rare. "The answer could shed light on how free-floating planetary-mass objects form," he added.
This was seized 4 u at BBC

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Robin enters his fortieth year of life


Your getting closer to your eon membership and could start by reading the orbits site.

Anyhow... have way to go ;-)