New 360 Backwards Compatibility

Gamespot is reporting that a new update to the 360’s backwards compatibility has been issued … and just as promptly recalled. From the article: “Late last night, Microsoft updated the backwards-compatibility list with eight games from the trio of Tom Clancy-inspired series. Software emulators for Ghost Recon, Ghost Recon 2, Ghost Recon 2 Summit Strike, Rainbow Six 3, Rainbow Six 3 Black Arrow, Splinter Cell, Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow, and Splinter Cell Chaos Theory all became available for download. However, within hours of the new update’s release, reports began to circulate that it was causing problems with Halo 2. ”

W3C Moves Forward on New Extensions for Voice Technologies and the Web

W3C Moves Forward on New Extensions for Voice Technologies and the Web

Wednesday, December 07 2005 @ 04:21 PM CST
Contributed by: ByteEnable

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced new work on extensions to components of the Speech Interface Framework which will both extend Speech Synthesis Markup Language functionality to Asian and other languages, and include speaker verification features into the next version of VoiceXML, version 3.0. Addressing both areas expands both the reach and functionality of the framework.

Working Group Internationalizing SSML

The Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML), a W3C Recommendation since 2004, is designed to provide a rich, XML-based markup language for assisting the generation of synthetic speech in Web and other applications. The essential role of the markup language is to provide authors of synthesizable content a standard way to control aspects of speech such as pronunciation, volume, pitch, rate, etc. across different synthesis-capable platforms.

While these attributes are critical, additional attributes may be even more important to specific languages. For example, Mandarin Chinese, the most widely spoken language in the world today, also has the notion of tones – the same written character can have multiple pronunciations and meanings based on the tone used. Given the profusion of cellphones in China – some estimate as high as over one billion – the case for extending SSML for Mandarin is clear in terms of sheer market forces. Including extensions for Japanese, Korean and other languages will ensure that a fuller participation possible of the world on the Web.

Speaker Verification Extension to Be Included in VoiceXML 3.0

Another feature users are demanding of telephony services and the Web is speaker verification.

“Identity theft, fraud, phishing, terrorism, and even the high cost of resetting passwords have heightened interest in deploying biometric security for all communication channels, including the telephone,” said Ken Rehor of Vocalocity, newly elected Chairman of the VoiceXML Forum and participant in the W3C Voice Browser Working Group. “Speaker verification and identification is not only the best biometric for securing telephone transactions and communications, it can work seamlessly with speech recognition and speech synthesis in VoiceXML deployments.”

Until now, most vendors have compensated for this missing feature by making a custom fix for their services. The result has been a set of divergent technologies that do not interoperate. Thanks to requirements contributions from the VoiceXML Forum’s Speaker Biometrics Committee, the W3C Voice Browser Working Group has been able to identify the features needed for a standardized speech verification module. The Working Group is now beginning to address these requirements.

Timing Perfect for New Participants

Given the depth and breadth of the announced new work, as well as plans for additional features for VoiceXML 3.0, this is a perfect time for new companies, researchers and other interested parties to join W3C and participate in the latest developments for voice technologies and the Web. Among potential critical contributors are those from the research and industrial sectors throughout Asia in the areas of Asian languages and speaker verification, to allow for the best possible expertise in the development of standards that truly serve the needs of Web users worldwide. More information on the W3C Voice Browser Activity and on joining W3C is on the W3C Web site.

RedHat’s revenue for the third quarter rose 44 percent

Redhat
Linux distributor RedHat’s revenue for the third quarter rose 44 percent to US$73.1 million, exceeding analyst expectations. Diluted net income jumped to US$24.6 million (12 cents per share) doubling the US$12.4 million (6 cents per share) from last year. With the addition of approximately 12,000 new customers, the success of RedHat is a clear indication of the increasing demand for commercial Linux technologies. RedHat’s subscription business model has been tremendously successful, and close relationships with companies like IBM, Dell, and HP have stimulated RedHat server deployment. RedHat Certified Engineer (RHCE) was honored with the top spot on CertCities.com’s 10 Hottest Certifications for 2006, and analyst estimates inidicate that RedHat has about 53 percent of the Linux training market in North America. RedHat CEO Matthew Szulik says that interest in Linux is increasing because consumers are less risk averse than they used to be:

Sun hardware bloggers weigh in on Niagara

Sun
Sun hardware bloggers weigh in on Niagara
December 8, 2005 5:07 PM PST
When Sun launched OpenSolaris, its open-source version of the Solaris operating system, it unleashed a gaggle of bloggers to give tours of the software project. Now that Sun launched its T2000 server, based on the 72-watt UltraSparc T1 “Niagara” processor, hardware specialists are getting a turn.

Dennis Sheahan pointed out that Sun switched the T2000 server from using 550-watt power supplies to 450-watt models after discovering even a full load wouldn’t require that much electricity. The 450-watt power supplies are more efficient, consuming less power when running in the T2000’s usual 340-watt range, he said.

Sheahan also said Sun called the initial Niagara prototype servers “Fireball”, calling the first system he sad “without exception one of the ugliest I have ever seen.”

Hugo Rivera debunks some myths and shows that Niagara’s relatively small 3MB cache is big enough.

In another blog, Ravindra Talashikar discusses how well the Niagara systems respond as more work is added–in industry terms, how linearly the system scales. His conclusion: very well.

Dave Dagastine gloats over top Java software benchmarks, results that stem in large part from the T2000’s hardware-based encryption that’s 10.7 times faster than an IBM p5-510 Unix server.

It’s not all about the hardware, though. Ruud Van Der Pas describes programming tricks using OpenMP software to move applications to a world with many parallel execution threads.

Posted by Stephen Shankland

Yahoo acquires shared bookmark site Del.icio.us

By Eric Auchard
Fri Dec 9, 5:31 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO – news), the world’s largest Internet media site, had agreed to acquire Del.icio.us, a popular Web site that helps users share links to their favorite Web sites, the site’s founder said on Friday.
Joshua Schachter, the founder of Del.icio.us, confirmed a posting on the New York-based start-up’s site that the company had been acquired by Yahoo. A Yahoo spokeswoman confirmed that the agreement to buy Del.icio.us had closed on Friday.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

“We are joining forces to build my vision of creating a way for people to remember things together,” Schachter told Reuters in a phone interview. “It is a shared memory site.”
Del.icio.us (http://del.icio.us/) provides a simple way for hundreds of thousands of Web users to share and categorize their favorite Web page bookmarks as Web pages.

It is considered one of the leading examples of the “Web 2.0” phenomenon which refers to a new generation of collaborative sites that has grown up on the Web in recent years and which depend on user-contributed information.

The acquisition of Del.icio.us marks the second major acquisition by Yahoo of a leading “social networking” site. Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo acquired popular photo sharing site Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/) earlier in 2005.

Del.icio.us has only nine employees. Venture backers include Union Square Capital, Amazon.com and BV Capital, among others. Some 300,000 users have shared more than 10 million of their favorite links to Web sites, Schachter said.

As a sideline to his day job at New York investment bank Morgan Stanley, the Web developer has been responsible for creating two cult crazes on the Internet.

Schachter was co-developer of Memepool (http://www.memepool.com/), a kind of daily diary of links to interesting Web sites that has been running since 1998.

Schachter plans to move to Sunnyvale to join Yahoo’s search products group, the same division where Flickr is based.

“Just like we’ve done with Flickr, we plan to give del.icio.us the resources, support, and room it needs to continue growing the service and community,” Jeremy Zawodny, an engineer in Yahoo’s search group, said on a Yahoo company blog. (http://www.ysearchblog.com/archives/000223.html)

Del.icio.us joins a growing stable of properties where Yahoo seeks to encourage hundreds of millions of its users worldwide to rely on the opinions of others — — their writings, photos, videos and Web links — to search the Web.

The company is working to integrate a range of different user-contribution functions across the Yahoo.com network, from Yahoo news to travel to search