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Monday, March 31, 2008

A South American river dolphin uses branches, weeds and lumps of clay to woo the opposite sex

A male boto rises to the surface of the Amazon carrying plant material in its mouth. It thrashes the foliage from side to side against the surface of the water, creating a visual and auditory signal.
Dolphin woos with wood and grass
A South American river dolphin uses branches, weeds and lumps of clay to woo the opposite sex and frighten off rivals, scientists have discovered.

Researchers observed adult male botos carrying these objects while surrounded by females, and thrashing them on the water surface aggressively.

Writing in the journal Biology Letters, they say such behaviour has never before been seen in any marine mammal.

The boto lives in only two rivers, and numbers are thought to be declining.

A group of British and Brazilian researchers studied the dolphin's unique courtship behaviour over three years in the Mamiraua Reserve, a flooded rainforest area on the Amazon.

"You see them coming up with bits of wood or lumps of rock in a very ritualised manner," recalled Tony Martin from the Sea Mammal Research Unit at St Andrews University.
Quite often they'd slowly come up above the surface in a vertical posture holding this stuff in their mouths, then sink down rotating on their own axis.

"They would also throw it or smash it against the surface, and it does appear that the waving around and bashing is to impress the ladies; but at the same time there's a lot of aggression between adult males, and we have to infer that's part of it."

Professor Martin's group established that rock carrying and branch thrashing were almost exclusively the preserve of adult males, and that they did it more when lots of adult females were present.

Although the males were more aggressive towards each other at these times, they were never seen to hit each other with the rocks or plants.

Sound theory

Three years ago, scientists found bottlenose dolphins in Australian waters carrying pieces of sponge, either to help with foraging or to defend against predators.

But using objects for socio-sexual display is a novel finding.

"I naively imagined this kind of thing was seen in other mammal species," said Professor Martin.

"But I was quite surprised when I consulted friends and colleagues, and it turns out that only chimps do anything similar - and that's much less sophisticated."

How and why the boto evolved the behaviour is unclear; although as cetaceans communicate largely with sound, it appears likely that the displays also create an impressive auditory impact on females, rival males, or both.

Hooked on boto

This research stemmed from a larger project, Projeto Boto, aimed at conserving the Amazon dolphin and its habitat.

River dolphins are among the most threatened of all cetaceans; the baiji, a native of the Yangtze in China, may already have gone extinct in the last two years, while numbers of the Indus or blind river dolphin of South Asia are believed to be down to around the 3,000 mark.
Compared to these species, the South American dolphin is in good health in its traditional haunts along the Amazon and Orinico rivers. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species suggests "there are probably tens of thousands of botos in total".

But the future does not appear secure. The Red List concludes that the boto is threatened by dams (causing fragmentation of their habitat) and pollution, such as from mercury used in gold mining.

"With growing human populations in Amazonia and Orinoquia, the conflicts between fisheries and dolphins are certain to intensify", it notes.

Projeto Boto has found that fishermen are increasingly catching the dolphins for use as bait to catch a fish, the piracatinga, which usually feeds on dead flesh.

Meat from the caiman, a close relative of the alligator, is also used for this purpose.

Projeto Boto scientists are regularly finding dead dolphins, either harpooned or entangled in ropes.

"We lost half of the animals from our study area in just five years," said Tony Martin.

"They may be fairly numerous now, but they're going downhill fast and we can't see any end to it."

Collabration :Adobe brings AIR to Linux, joins Linux Foundation

Adobe system is updating alpha version of AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) and to release the version today also announce that it is joining the Linux Foundation.

AIR is Adobe's Web browser plug-in for running and creating Web applications that run both online and offline. AIR 1.0, released late last month, runs on Windows and Mac OS. Adobe had said it will port AIR to Linux and then mobile devices.

As part of the AIR-on-Linux release, Adobe is making an update to the alpha version of its Flex Builder framework for Linux. Both will be made available at Adobe Labs for free and will be completed later this year.

Adobe said that it joined the Linux Foundation to help promote rich Internet application development on Linux. It's a bid to raise its commitment to Linux-based software on the desktop, where it's support until now has been limited.

Google is sponsoring programmers at CodeWeavers who are using Wine to write a Linux version of Photoshop and other Creative Suite applications.

Adobe has also sought to work with open-source software more, in general. It has open-sourced development tools, including its Flex development framework, and contributed a scripting engine to the Mozilla Foundation for inclusion in the Firefox Web browser

Windows Vista miss matching with Nvidia!!!

From several authentic sources its can be clear that Nvidia is miss matching with Nvidia .
According to a 158-page pack of e-mails released as part of the Windows Vista Capable lawsuit, 30% of Vista crashed were caused by problems with Nvidia drivers.

The report in regards to Nvidia drivers on Vista comes from Ars Technica.

They have stated, after reviewing the pack of e-mails released, that in 2007, 30% of all Vista crashes were due to Nvidia drivers.

The report states that Nvidia caused 479,000 of the 1,663,748 Vista crashed Windows logged last year over a period of time.

Behind Nvidia, it was found that Microsoft drivers caused 17.9% of crashes, following by ATI causing 9.3% and Intel causing 8.8%.

Nvidia is to blame for the Vista crashes during 2007, that's the conclusion one would reach after reading the emails made public during the ongoing "Vista Capable" lawsuit.
This comes a month after U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled in favor of consumers. Pechman stated that consumers have the right to continue class action lawsuits against Microsoft over their Vista Capable advertising campaign.

Many consumers were none too happy with Microsoft in how they handled their Vista Capable campaign.

The idea behind it was to educate consumers to teach them which computers would be capable of running Windows Vista Basic.

Microsoft is hoping to fix a lot of the current bugs with the release of Windows Vista Service Pack 1, which was made available for download on Microsoft’s Windows Update Web on March 18.

Microsoft will push the fixes to those who get automatic updates starting in the middle of April.

Vista SP1 fixes many of the big bug problems with the operating system.

New robotic intelligence

A new robot is able to learn by itself and can solve increasingly complex tasks with no additional programming.
Designers of artificial cognitive systems have tended to adopt one of two approaches to building robots that can think for themselves: classical rule-based artificial intelligence or artificial neural networks. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and combining the two offers the best of both worlds, say a team of European researchers who have developed a new breed of cognitive, learning robot that goes beyond the state of the art.

The researchers’ work brings together the two distinct but mutually supportive technologies that have been used to develop artificial cognitive systems (ACS) for different purposes. The classical approach to artificial intelligence (AI) relies on a rule-based system in which the designer largely supplies the knowledge and scene representations, making the robot follow a decision-making process – much like climbing through the branches of a tree – toward a predefined response.

Biologically inspired artificial neural networks (ANNs), on the other hand, rely on processing continuous signals and a non-linear optimisation process to reach a response which, due to the lack of preset rules, requires developers to carefully balance the system constraints and its freedom to act autonomously.

“Developing systems in classical AI is essentially a top-down approach, whereas in ANN it is a bottom-up approach,” explains Michael Felsberg, a researcher at the Computer Vision Laboratory of Linköping University in Sweden. “The problem is that, used individually, these systems have major shortcomings when it comes to developing advanced ACS architectures. ANN is too trivial to solve complex tasks, while classical AI cannot solve them if it has not been pre-programmed to do so.”

Beyond the state of the art

Working in the EU-funded COSPAL project, Felsberg’s team found that using the two technologies together solves many of those issues. In what the researchers believe to be the most advanced example of such a system developed anywhere in the world, they used ANN to handle the low-level functions based on the visual input their robots received and then employed classical AI on top of that in a supervisory function.

“In this way, we found it was possible for the robots to explore the world around them through direct interaction, create ways to act in it and then control their actions in accordance. This combines the advantages of classical AI, which is superior when it comes to functions akin to human rationality, and the advantages of ANN, which is superior at performing tasks for which humans would use their subconscious, things like basic motor skills and low-level cognitive tasks,” notes Felsberg.

The most important difference between the COSPAL approach and what had been the state of the art is that the researchers’ ACS is scalable. It is able to learn by itself and can solve increasingly complex tasks with no additional programming.

“There is a direct mapping from the visual precepts to performing the action,” Felsberg confirms. “With previous systems, if something in the environment changed that the low-level system was not programmed to recognise, it would give random responses but the supervising AI process would not realise anything was wrong. With our approach, the system realises something is different and if its actions do not result in success it tries something else,” the project coordinator explains.

“Like training a child or a puppy”

This trial-and-error learning approach was tested by making the COSPAL robot complete a shape-sorting puzzle, but without telling it what it had to do. As it tried to fit pegs into holes it gradually learnt what would fit where, allowing it to complete the puzzle more quickly and accurately each time.

“After visual bootstrapping, the only human input was from an operator who had two buttons, one to tell the robot it was successful and another to tell it that it had made a mistake. It is much like training a child or a puppy,” Felsberg says.

Though a learning, cognitive robot of the kind developed in COSPAL constitutes an important leap forward toward the development of more autonomous robots, Felsberg says it will be some time before robots gain anything close to human cognition and intelligence, if they ever do.

“In human terms, our robot is probably like a two or three year old child, and it will take a long time for the technology to progress into the equivalent of adulthood. I don’t think we will see it in our lifetimes,” he says.

Nonetheless, robots like those developed in COSPAL will undoubtedly start to play a greater role in our lives. The project partners are in the process of launching a follow-up project called DIPLECS to test their ACS architecture in a car. It will be used to make the vehicle cognitive and aware of its surroundings, creating an artificial co-pilot to increase safety no matter the weather, road or traffic conditions.

“In the real world you need a system that is capable of adapting to unforeseen circumstances, and that is the greatest accomplishment of our ACS,” Felsberg notes.

Google and Apple compete on developing mobile application

Mobile phobia dominating the big technology giant, and the result is google and apple the world technology giant preparing themself to pick them top through mobile application.
For the last four months, Howard Chau has been developing a mobile application that's designed to alert people to their next calendar appointment, factoring in data like the person's physical location and traffic conditions en route to a meeting.

In the next two weeks, Chau plans to submit the GPS-based application, called Mappily, to Google in the hopes of winning its Android Developer Challenge, a developer contest with $10 million in total prize money. Because Chau only stands to win tens of thousands of dollars in the first round of the challenge, the money would just be gravy.

"It's really a way to get seen," said Chau, the 26-year-old president of Cupertino, Calif.-based Mappily, which employs three people.

Chau's plight is part of Silicon Valley's new contest within a contest to create the hottest new mobile technology.

Pulling the strings are Google and Apple, which are in a simmering battle in the handset market with respective new platforms and software development kits. (That could be especially uncomfortable, given that Google CEO Eric Schmidt sits on Apple's board of directors.) Behind the scenes are the venture capitalists, such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which recently established the $100 million iFund to invest in mobile applications for the iPhone. Google's Android Developer Challenge is its own version of the iFund at a 10th the size. But surely other VCs are ruminating on forming the Android Fund to rival KCPB.

Charles River Ventures, for example, has briefly considered the idea, but will likely fund Android applications from its QuickStart seed program, which grants promising upstarts a convertible note worth $250,000 to get their project off the ground, according to one partner.

With all of that money floating around, developers are rushing to build the next big widget, social network, or mapping technology for the mobile phone. Not only are developers lured by the idea of making money on the mobile phone, but they're also drawn by financial incentives coming from both camps that might seal their future.

Google's $10 million will be doled out in chunks to developers with winning mobile apps for its upcoming Android platform. That contest, which will come in two rounds with the first deadline April 14, takes a page from the XPrize Foundation and other incentive-prize competitions that have spawned innovations in flight and rocketry, and potentially, lunar rovers and energy-efficient cars.

Meanwhile, KPCB has dangled a much bigger carrot for developers trying to win big with mobile applications on the Apple iPhone. The venerable VC announced the $100 million fund in early March, when Apple unveiled its software development kit. Developers who land a deal with KPCB will not only be well-funded, they will be well-connected to Apple's platform. Apple executives at the highest levels will be consulting on the deals, according to KPCB iFund lead Matt Murphy.

KPCB has already ported a couple of its own venture-backed start-ups into the iFund, including Pelago, which makes a social-networking application.

Still, such specific funds have failed before. For example, during the dot-com boom, KCPB announced the Java Fund, and nothing huge came of that venture. For that reason, many VCs say it's a way to generate buzz more than anything else.

"Any serious VC is going to fund things on the iPhone and Android platform if it's a cool thing. In general, VCs are less excited about applications where the carrier is in control," said George Zachary, a partner at Charles River Ventures.
iPhone already established
For many developers, Apple's iPhone is more alluring as a development platform because of the established customer list. Unlike Android, the iPhone platform has hardware with millions of customers; and as a bonus, Apple-sanctioned applications go on sale in its mobile store.

Craig Hockenberry, chief technology officer at IconFactory and a longtime Mac developer, said the iPhone offers a clear business path. His company is developing a Twitter messaging tool called Twitterific for the iPhone, among other applications. IconFactory will sell Twitterific for a one-time fee of $15 or offer a free advertising-supported version.

"We don't need outside investment, but that iFund is going to be useful for people who have big social-networking programs that need backend infrastructure," Hockenberry said. "We just want to build small, fun apps and leave it at that. Those are the ideal apps for the iPhone."

As for the Android contest, he hasn't been enticed by it because there's no hardware yet. "It's a bit of a gamble. You can maybe make a million dollars, but what if you don't? You have nothing. I think what we have going onto the iPhone, it's going to sell. People are asking for it," Hockenberry said, adding: "Nobody's got Android."

Hank Williams' company Kloudshare aims to enter the Android contest. Having raised $40 million in venture funding for ClickRadio during the dot-com boom, he said that VC money comes with too many strings. Kloudshare, based in New York, is developing an application that will help people manage data on their phone and desktop, but Williams wouldn't get more specific than that.

"The idea that Google's putting $10 million on the table, saying 'we're going to give it to the best companies by this deadline' is more direct in my mind. I would imagine Google will write more checks than the Kleiner folks."

"The money--that's a maraschino cherry," Williams said.

Still, Kloudshare will likely develop an application for the iPhone. "We figured Android was the low-hanging fruit. We want to prove that it worked on the Android platform and then go from there," he said. Williams believes that Android will likely be the operating system for the largest portion of the cell phone market, rekindling the PC vs. Apple fight. "It's going to be like the PC market, with 20 companies selling Android. One is perfect and the other is everywhere," Williams said.

To be sure, developers say Android's platform is easier to create applications for because of built-in mapping intelligence technology and so-called background processing. That's why Chau chose the Android platform, for its in-build mapping technology.

Chau said he's waiting to hear of an Apple update that will include a GPS-sensor so that he can port his application to the iPhone and boost its customer base.

Microsoft OOXML is to be ISO certified

Last year after failing the ISO certification again facing the standard qualification. hope getting positive result.
even OOXML rivals –predicted on Sunday that the Redmond, Wash. software giant has amassed the required number of votes to pull it over the goal line. Of course, a final vote will not be tallied until Monday … so hold on.

According to, Microsoft got a boost from Norway, Ireland, Czech Republic, Denmark and South Korea, which changed their respective ‘No’ votes to ‘Yes’ votes for Office Open XML, while Finland, which abstained from the last vote, gave OOXML the thumbs up.

Andy Updegrove of Gesmer Updegrove LLP, a technology law firm based in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, has compiled the vote count and deemed that OOXML will get ISO approval.

In ODF’s favor, Venezuela changed its vote from “Yes” to “No” while Kenya, which formerly approved of OOXML becoming an ISO standard, opted to abstain.

ODF was approved as an ISO standard on May 1, 2006.

Microsoft began its battle to get ISO approval in early December of 2006. On December 7 of that year, ECMA International approved Office Open XML Formats as an Ecma standard and voted to submit the new standard to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for consideration as an ISO standard.

Although many argued that there ought to be just one document format standard, Microsoft has lobbied the national standards bodies in at least 87 countries for two long years to accept OOXML as an ISO standard. Microsoft maintains that Office dominates on the desktop worldwide and that OOXML is a de facto standard anyway. Microsoft also made some requested changes as of late to the spec that got a few no votes into yes votes.

Whatever the case, big bucks are at stake. An ISO approval would make Microsoft’s Office an acceptable choice among many governments around the world. It will also make it harder for open source desktops, such as ODF, to gain market share.

It’s 4 a.m. EST Monday and still no word from ISO or from Microsoft’s European PR team. I found one Microsoft Office blogger rejoicing — but he’d only read the same reports that are linked here. It should be an interesting day. According to some reports that came in over the weekend, voting irregularities have occurred in Croatia and Germany and ODF backers are calling for a re-vote.

What a drama. The early polling looks good for Microsoft, but don’t hold me to it. Remember the major media outlets prematurely calling Al Gore’s win over GW in 2000? And pundits prematurely announcing McCain’s political death last year?

'Shine' by yahoo - new era for woman

Classification with specification,yes its new special site from yahoo and its new era for only woman ,Yahoo on Monday will launch a new Web site aimed at women. The site, called "Shine," will feature original blogs and content from major publishing partners including Conde Nast, Hearst, and Time.

The site is Yahoo's latest foray into vertical sites, which include the popular Yahoo News and Yahoo Finance, as well as Sports and Entertainment, and the much less popular Yahoo Tech and Yahoo Green. This site is Yahoo's first targeting a specific audience and not just a topicYahoo aims to be the top destination site in the lifestyles category, said Amy Iorio, general manager of Lifestyles at Yahoo. Women as a demographic is a good target, particularly given the number of women who use Yahoo (40 million women between the ages of 25 and 54 every month) and the fact that females tend to blog more than males.

The new Web site aimed at women. The site, called "Shine," will feature original blogs and content from major publishing partners including Conde Nast, Hearst, and Time.

The site is Yahoo's latest foray into vertical sites, which include the popular Yahoo News and Yahoo Finance, as well as Sports and Entertainment, and the much less popular Yahoo Tech and Yahoo Green. This site is Yahoo's first targeting a specific audience and not just a topic
NO DOUBT TIRED OF being relentlessly pursued by the Vole, Yahoo has decided to do a bit of its own chasing. Skirt chasing that is. Today Yahoo is launching its latest new Web site, called “Shine”, aimed squarely at women.

Shine now joins a whole host of other Yahoo spawned sites including Yahoo news, finance, sports, entertainment, tech and even the unpopular green. But Shine is Yahoo’s first go at targeting a specific demographic audience rather than just a topic of potential interest. Well, you can’t really go wrong when you’re targeting just over 50% of the world’s population. Or can you?

Yahoo claims that Shine will not aim to tap into the stereotypes nauseatingly used by marketers and advertisers to decide what content women should be interested in, and claims that it doesn’t “want to be a site just for moms or just for single women or working women, or any specific demo- or psychographic” (psychographic? Are they calling us insane now?).

Instead, Yahoo reckons that Shine will be more appealing to the new breed of tech savvy women who, according to CNET, tend to bog even more than men do. Also, according to CNET’s girly stats, about 40 million women aged between 25 and 54 log into Yahoo every month, making them a worthwhile market to tap.

Shine seems to be aiming at becoming the top destination site in the Yahoo lifestyles category, and supposedly will try very hard not to drag in it’s female punters by the hair with thigh (sorry, eye) grabbing headlines like “how to lose that winter flab for that perfect bikini body”. To try to ensure that this doesn’t happen, the site’s management team is entirely female, but that still hasn’t stopped them from admitting that they’ve been referring to women as 'chief household officers', or that the site will have full integration with Yahoo Food, Health, and Astrology - the three subjects closest to women’s hearts apparently [What about chocolate

Also, Shine’s idea of reaching out to the new breed of totally-non stereotypical women involves insightful articles and blogs hailing from such non stereotypical sites as Women's Health, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, InStyle, and cooking site Epicurious. Strange, but there’s not a tech site among them.

Shine appears to be a shallow façade of a site, pretending to offer women something new, when it obviously doesn’t. At least other women orientated sites like CafeMom and Glam don’t try to hide their real motives under layers of this season’s hottest pastel lip shades and blemish hiding foundation cream

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