Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Adobe launches Creative Suite 4

For some time now, Adobe (the maker of such softwares such as Acrobat, Photoshop and Flash) has been bundling its major softwares such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Digital Video, etc under one bundle (with variations) called the Creative Suite. As a result, when the Creative Suite is finally released, it is a major release; for some time before it is to be released, people put a slow-down on buying the previous version; they would rather get the latest and greatest.
A big part of the CS release is the release of a new version of Photoshop, and it is one of the most eagerly awaited products of the Creative Suites. Now Photoshop CS4 has been announced, and would be available in October. The major changes in this release include being able to use the GPU for greater speed, something that is eagerly awaited. Using the GPU allows the application to do its graphics processing faster (and that is typically one of the most time consuming portions of the overall time taken in the product).
Another major change in the release details support for 64 bit processors on the Windows platform, not much of a benefit for regular users, but more easily appreciable once the user starts moving onto much more memory-intensive work. Another areas where there is much better support is by making it easier for 3rd party developers to deploy extensions - they can create their own control panels in the form of Flash and just drop it in. Photoshop will also be integrating the latest Camera Raw Plugin (v 5.0) so that the latest version of RAW files from newer cameras are supported.
The upgrade price for Photoshop is $199 for the Photoshop CS4 and $349 for CS4 Extended; full purchase prices are $699 and $999.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Google's chrome - shaking the browser market

Just a few years ago, Microsoft would have thought that it had sewn up the browser market; then came Firefox (backed by Google as well). Firefox won a lot of converts, and seemed like the open source alternative to a market that Microsoft had almost totally won, and it won a significant minority of the browser market. For the first time after Netscape, there seemed like an open source alternative in the form of Firefox; and now, Google seems suddenly to buck all the open source support and launch its own browser called Chrome - in the process, it seems to have withdrawn support from Firefox.
Chrome however promises much more to people everywhere, an open source software that can actually serve as the backbone for an alternative to the standard desktop - no longer will applications have to choose between the desktop and the internet:

Far from a betrayal, Chrome represents the best possible future for open source developers everywhere. What Google has delivered is a giant-slayer, a self-contained WebOS that could one day supplant Microsoft's desktop hegemony. Chrome is the ultimate end-run -- around Windows, Win32/.Net, the whole entrenched ecosystem.
This is the future of FOSS, a future where Chrome becomes the OS and Linux is relegated to its rightful place as a glorified boot loader. You know that's where they're headed. You know that's Google's master plan. The wunderkinds envision a world where the OS is irrelevant, where everything revolves around their pumped-up browser and advertising-laced SaaS offerings.

Right now Chrome only exists for the Windows platform, but versions for other operating systems will be available; and one can bet that pretty soon we will start seeing applications that are made for Chrome, that showcase this platform and live up to all its promises.

The importance of news in today's world

Computers have been blamed for a number of problems that occur in today's world, but the malfunction of news reporting (causing an older page to appear and seem as current news) and the impact on a company's stock price is not something that we hear too often; neither would the investors who lost money on such a thing happening have imagined that they were watching a computer glitch. They did not bother to check elsewhere, and sold at panic levels, such is the dependency that people have on news items. Read on:

Information can live in cyberspace forever. And that cost some investors in United Airlines parent UAL Corp. a load of money Monday. Shares of UAL briefly plummeted as low as $3 early in the day -- from $12.30 on Friday -- after a 6-year-old story on the company's 2002 bankruptcy filing resurfaced on the Web and was reported as news by an investment letter.
But investors who sold at the day's lows are stuck: The Nasdaq Stock Market, where UAL stock is listed, said trades triggered by the erroneous report wouldn't be rescinded. What's more, shares of other carriers, including Continental Airlines Inc. and AMR Corp., the parent of American Airlines, also briefly dived with UAL before rebounding.

All this was caused by a series of events in which an old story got posted on the home page of a newspaper, and then got included in Google's automatic story picker (because the story had appeared as a top item on the newspaper site), which was then forwarded as part of an investment bulletin (where the researcher saw it on both the company page and on Google news and concluded it was authentic). By the time that UAL saw the news posted on Bloomberg and issued a retraction, the share had nose-dived and people had sold in panic.
People are too much in a hurry nowadays to be the first with the news, and traditional methods of confirming news and such data no longer seem to be in vogue.