New Windows

Windows® Azure is a cloud services operating system that serves as the development, service hosting and service management environment for the Azure Services Platform. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage Web applications on the Internet through Microsoft® data centers.

To build these applications and services, developers can use their existing Microsoft® Visual Studio® 2008 expertise. In addition, Windows Azure supports popular standards and protocols including SOAP, REST, and XML. Windows Azure is an open platform that will support both Microsoft and non-Microsoft languages and environments.


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Algorithms can make you pretty

The New York Times has an interesting story on a new algorithm by researchers from Tel Aviv University that modifies a facial picture of a person to conform to standards of attractiveness. Based on a digital library of pictures of people who have been judged ‘attractive,’ the algorithm finds the nearest match and modifies an input picture so it conforms to the ‘attractive’ person’s proportions. The trick, however, is that the resultant pictures are still recognizable as the original person. Here’s a quick link to a representative picture of the process. Note that this is a machine-learning approach to picture modification, not a characterization of beauty, and could just as easily be used to make a person less attractive.

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The Captain Crunch

One day John Draper noticed that some blind kids, named Dennie and Jimmie, were using the whistle from a “Cap’n Crunch” box to make free long distance telephone calls. They glued one of the holes shut in the whistle, and then blew it into the telephone. The modified whistle produced a pure 2600 Hz tone, which was the standard used by telephone electronics to signal that a call was over. When the telephone system heard the whistle it stopped all long distance charges, even though the call continued until one of the parties hung up.

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Principles behind the Agile Manifesto

* Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

* Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.

* Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.

* Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

* Build projects around motivated individuals.
Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

* The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

* Working software is the primary measure of progress.

* Agile processes promote sustainable development.
The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

* Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

* Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.

* The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

* At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

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XNA from scratch

This tutorial is aimed at people who haven’t done any 3D programming so far and would like to see some results in the shortest possible time. To this end, XNA is an ideal programming environment. Using C# as programming language, anyone having some notions of Java should be able to start right away. Even more, this tutorial is written in such a way that anyone who has any programming experience should be able to understand and complete it!

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Indie Games Part I

“Microsoft has a new ‘community games’ initiative where anyone can upload their game to Xbox 360. They’ve also provided a free development platform called XNA which we have used to make Plain Sight; without XNA we’d have to spend many thousands of pounds on a development kit.” Brian Cable

Download the game JellyCar designed by Brian. source

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Mision to venus

The Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts (RASC) activity is funded by the Office of Aerospace Technology to study alternate approaches to achieving NASA’s missions that may occur beyond traditional planning horizons. In support of these alternate approaches, RASC identifies the benefits of advanced technology application and documents any other necessary enabling capabilities in support of the advanced mission concepts and architectures. The focus of this activity is for missions that would occur between 2015 and 2030. RASC studies leverage expertise across NASA to ensure a broad systems perspective to assess impacts of innovative ideas and advanced technologies.

This is a concept video for a mission that NASA developed called the Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts (RASC) program. It was a program to develop a conceptual design for a robotic mission to explore the surface and atmosphere of Venus.


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100 Explosions on the Moon

Meteor showers are great fun.  Saw at may 21 2008  explotions like natural fireworks equivalent to about 100 pounds of TNT when meteors hit the lunar surface.  Flashes of light on the Moon would be viewed with deep suspicion by professional astronomers.

Explains Bill Cooke, head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). “A typical blast is about as powerful as a few hundred pounds of TNT and can be photographed easily using a backyard telescope.”

Here you are a nice gif about this:

>> SOURCE >> * * *

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The Cathedral and the Bazaar

The Cathedral and the Bazaar (abbreviated CatB) is an essay by Eric S. Raymond on software engineering methods, based on his observations of the Linux kernel development process and his experiences managing an open source project, fetchmail.

Nineteen lessons listed in CatB:

1. Every good work of software starts by scratching a developer’s personal itch.

2. Good programmers know what to write. Great ones know what to rewrite (and reuse).

3. “Plan to throw one away; you will, anyhow.”

4. If you have the right attitude, interesting problems will find you.

5. When you lose interest in a program, your last duty to it is to hand it off to a competent successor.

6. Treating your users as co-developers is your least-hassle route to rapid code improvement and effective debugging.

7. Release early. Release often. And listen to your customers.

8. Given a large enough beta-tester and co-developer base, almost every problem will be characterized quickly and the fix obvious to someone.

9. Smart data structures and dumb code works a lot better than the other way around.

10. If you treat your beta-testers as if they’re your most valuable resource, they will respond by becoming your most valuable resource.

11. The next best thing to having good ideas is recognizing good ideas from your users. Sometimes the latter is better.

12. Often, the most striking and innovative solutions come from realizing that your concept of the problem was wrong.

13. “Perfection (in design) is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but rather when there is nothing more to take away.”

14. Any tool should be useful in the expected way, but a truly great tool lends itself to uses you never expected.

15. When writing gateway software of any kind, take pains to disturb the data stream as little as possible – and *never* throw away information unless the recipient forces you to!

16. When your language is nowhere near Turing-complete, syntactic sugar can be your friend.

17. A security system is only as secure as its secret. Beware of pseudo-secrets.

18. To solve an interesting problem, start by finding a problem that is interesting to you.

19: Provided the development coordinator has a medium at least as good as the Internet, and knows how to lead without coercion, many heads are inevitably better than one.

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Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace

In computer science, “code” typically refers to the text of a computer program (i.e., source code). In law, “code” can refer to the texts that constitute statutory law. In his book Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Lessig explores the ways in which code in both senses can be instruments for social control, leading to his dictum that “Code is law”.

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