Posts tagged Open-Source

Know more XAML

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Microsoft XAML

Microsoft on Tuesday made more technical information available for XAML, a language for designing the user interface of Web and Windows applications.

The documentation is aimed at other software companies and developers who want to make products that can “read” XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language).

The added technical detail will allow servers from other companies to send information to clients written using XAML, Microsoft said. Non-Microsoft client software will also more easily read XAML.

The information is covered under Microsoft’s Open Specification Promise, which is meant to protect third parties from patent infringement.

XAML is the markup language designers use to lay out an application’s front end. Microsoft’s Silverlight Web browser plug-in for displaying media can render XAML along with JavaScript and HTML.

It’s also important technology in Microsoft’s strategy to attract more application designers to its Expression line of products. XAML is a lingua franca that designers can use with Expression tools and developers can manipulate with Visual Studio.

The posting of additional technical information is part of Microsoft’s ongoing efforts around interoperability with products from other vendors, including open-source software.

In a statement, Tom Robertson, Microsoft’s general manager of interoperability and standards, said:

“Microsoft’s posting of the expanded set of XAML format documentation to assist third parties to access and implement the XAML formats in their own client, server and tool products will help promote interoperability, opportunity and choice across the IT community. Use of the Open Specification Promise assures developers that they can use any Microsoft patents needed to implement all or part of the XAML formats for free, anywhere in the world, now and in the future.”

On Tuesday, Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith is scheduled to talk at the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco and the company’s open-source lab, led by Sam Ramji, is expected to make an announcement.

Firefox 3 is the fastest !

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Now that Firefox 3 is approaching the home stretch it is important that Mozilla starts to throw in performance improvements to really make the browser purr. A Profile-Guided Optimization (PGO) build of Firefox 3 has been created which greatly improved the performance of JavaScript in the browser. While PGO itself hasn’t yet landed in the nightly builds there have been some significant improvements to the JavaScript engine.

I’m sure what most of you care the most about are the facts, and so I’ve compiled the results of the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark test for each of the different browsers. All of the tests below were performed on the same Windows machine, and the Firefox 3 nightly builds definitely came out on top. Here are the results sorted from best to worst (each one is hyperlinked to the full stats):

  1. Firefox 3 Nightly (PGO Optimized): 7263.8ms
  2. Firefox 3 Nightly (02/25/2008 build): 8219.4ms
  3. Opera 9.5.9807 Beta: 10824.0ms
  4. Firefox 3 Beta 3: 16080.6ms
  5. Safari 3.0.4 Beta: 18012.6ms
  6. Firefox 2.0.0.12: 29376.4ms
  7. Internet Explorer 7: 72375.0ms

It’s important to know that every time you run the SunSpider Benchmark it conducts each test five times, and the result is the average of the five tests. So it is a rather thorough test, and definitely shows off the speed improvements that Firefox 3 is going to be bringing to the table.

What does this all mean for you? Depending on what browser you typically use you may not notice a huge speed difference, but the change will be the most noticeable on sites that use JavaScript heavily. With the Web 2.0 era upon us all JavaScript speed enhancements are welcomed with open arms.

Firefox 3 Beta 4 is expected to be released in the next few weeks, and you can expect to see these (and many more) improvements shining through!

Ten Key Predictions for 2008

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Gartner has come up with ten key predictions that it thinks will affect IT this year and beyond. The company claims to have short-listed these from amongst over 100 predictions it presents and reviews every year.

To begin with, Gartner has predicted that 2008 will see Apple Computer double its US and Western Europe unit market share in computers. The reasons being the company’s software integration, continuous innovation in hardware and software, and an ecosystem that focuses on interoperability across multiple devices.

By 2012, 50 percent of wandering workers will leave their notebooks at home in favor of other lighter, smarter devices. While the market will have more and more Internet-centric pocketable devices, and server- and Web- based applications that can be accessed from anywhere, anytime.

By 2012, 80 percent of all commercial software will include elements of open-source technology. Large software vendors will have to invest in embedded open source strategies to remain competitive and relevant.

By 2012, at least one-third of spending on business application software will be in the form of service subscription rather than as product license.

By 2011, early adopters of technology will forgo capital expenditure, instead purchasing 40 percent of their IT infrastructure as service. Why? Increased high-speed bandwidth will make it practical to locate infrastructure at other sites, while still receiving the same response times. Also, with service oriented architecture (SOA) becoming more common, cloud computing will take off, unshackling applications from specific infrastructure.

By 2009, one or more environmental criteria will start featuring on the list of top six buying criteria for IT goods in the case of more than one-third of IT organizations.

By 2010, full life cycle energy and CO2 footprint will become mandatory PC hardware buying criteria for 75 percent of IT organizations.

By 2011, suppliers of large global enterprises will need to prove their ‘Green’ credentials through an audited process to retain ‘preferred supplier’ status.

By 2010, as much as half of all software, hardware, and services acquisitions made by IT will be decided by end-user preferences.

As compared to 2006 numbers, the number of 3D printers in homes and businesses will grow 100-fold.

Gartner has said that while the full impact of these trends may not be visible this year, IT professionals are advised to act immediately so that they can exploit the trends for their competitive advantage.

Five ways to protect your privacy online

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A friend took me to task for recommending that people use Gmail as a central repository for all their e-mail. (The fact that he works for Yahoo is purely coincidental.)
“Sure, let Google read all your mail and serve up ads based on the content,” he said. “Nothing wrong with that.” The fact is, I consider everything I do online–searching, browsing, shopping, e-mail, video-viewing, you name it–as public as anything I do on Main Street in midday. That doesn’t mean I don’t take precautions to protect my credit card numbers and other private information while online, just as I do my best to keep the information secure everywhere else. Here are my Online Privacy Rules.

#1: Paranoia pays. Don’t trust anything or anyone. Just because the URL in the address bar begins “https://” and there’s a little lock icon in the bottom corner of the browser doesn’t mean you can enter your bank-account number, PIN, mother’s maiden name, passwords, and the combination to your high school locker without a care. Phishers can spoof just about any indicator the browser makers and security protectors come up with. As much as possible, share your personal information only with those sites you know and trust.

#2: Don’t use Internet Explorer. It’s the most popular browser, which means it’s the target for most data thieves. That’s not saying you’re 100 percent protected when you use Mozilla Firefox or some other open-source browser, but at least you’re not putting the fate of your personal information in the hands of a single company. (I won’t even mention Microsoft’s spotty security track record.) Hundreds of volunteer programmers poke and prod Firefox (and to a lesser extent, other open-source software) to identify and patch security vulnerabilities.

#3: Use a temporary credit card number. If you know you’ll be making a lot of online purchases, contact your credit card provider and ask about getting a temporary number with a preset spending limit and an impending expiration date. (Thanks to my personal tech guru, Steve Bass, for this useful advice.)

#4: Use an anonymizer. Anonymous proxy servers mask your computer’s IP address, which allows you to browse without the sites you visit knowing who you are. Web pages will likely take longer to open when you filter them through a proxy server, and the services are not a privacy panacea because they won’t stop you from volunteering personal information on a site you shouldn’t trust, but they do provide an added layer of protection. There are plenty of free anonymizing proxy servers available, though I’ve never used any of these, or any other anonymizers. As I mentioned above, the best way to protect your online privacy is to assume you have none, and modify your online behavior accordingly. But I believe I am in the minority opinion on this matter.

#5: Don’t use Google. This one’s harder to do than it may seem. Not only has “google” become synonymous with Web searching, you can’t always tell when you’re on a site or using a service with ties to the company’s enormous data stores. For example, Ask.com recently launched its AskEraser service that lets you wipe out your search history, but Ask serves up Google ads in its search results, and Google keeps track of who views its ads. Google makes no bones about its reliance on a history of your online activity to offer its various services. For example, you can’t encrypt your messages in Gmail without using an add-in such as the $10 ZipMail for Gmail from MK Net.Work. So once again we’re back where we started: The only way to ensure your privacy on the Web is to keep out.

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