Friday, April 29, 2005
XBOX 360 Under Ground Pictures

A new image of Microsoft's Xbox 360 has surfaced on web forums this evening, where it is believed an industry insider leaked the image. Sources we spoke to who have already seen the hardware themselves confirmed that this image - despite being a render rather than a photo - is indeed the official finalised design of Xbox 360. Other scant details have also been revealed to us by our sources.

Apparently, as well as removable media for saving games, gamers will be able to save games on to their home computers via LAN networks. Whether or not this will allow game saves to be swapped is still unclear however, as saves may be marked to users' Gamertags.

Lastly, while the render of the finalised design is white, sources are adamant the outer shell of Xbox 360 will be removable, allowing gamers to personalise their console with a wide range of alternate colours and designs. Specific colours aren't yet confirmed, although the chrome model partially unveiled on viral marketing website yesterday is a genuine possibility.

Visit IGN XBox for more information and pictures.


360 Degrees of Embedded DRAM

Next-generation Xbox to utilize NEC's embedded DRAM technology.

NEC Electronics Corporation has announced that Microsoft Corporation will be incorporating NEC's embedded DRAM (eDRAM) technology in the next-generation Xbox console. NEC's eDRAM technology is an important piece in Microsoft's next-generation console in that it will allow much quicker access to large amounts of data, inherent in high-definition graphics.

In its simplest terms, eDRAM puts memory directly onto the chip die, making for much faster access times. Normally, data would have to be sent across some sort of bus which is a huge bottleneck in conventional setups. By implementing the memory directly onto the die, the memory can be directly accessed without having to wait for instructions and data to transfer.

"The next-generation Xbox platform will provide gamers with a highly advanced graphics experience," said Todd Holmdahl, corporate vice president, Xbox Product Group. "NEC Electronics' cutting-edge embedded DRAM technology plays a vital role in enabling our graphics engine's performance, while its manufacturing process provides a reliable resource that can deliver the volumes required to support what will be an extremely popular gaming platform."

"Microsoft's next-generation Xbox platform promises to be a revolutionary gaming platform and must-have consumer device," said Hirokazu Hashimoto, executive vice president, NEC Electronics Corporation. "NEC Electronics is pleased to be an integral part of this device and looks forward to working with Microsoft to make the next-generation Xbox platform a top seller."

Source : IGN XBOX


First Public Demo of the Cell Processor

At the COOL Chips VIII event held in Yokohama, Japan, Toshiba made the first public demo of the Cell microprocessor in action.

In the demo, 48 MPEG-2 streams stored on a HDD were read, decoded and projected to a 1080i resolution display divided into 8 x 6 cells, each of which showed a different video fitted to the cell size. The company expects to use this technology to display moving thumbnails in a video list.

The Cell architecture has debuted in a configuration of 9 independent cores: one PowerPC Processing Element (PPE) and eight Synergistic Processing Elements (SPEs). The PPE and SPEs are different, but all eight SPEs are identical to one another. In this demo, of the eight synergistic processor elements, six were used for decoding 48 MPEG-2 streams and one was used for scaling the screen. The remaining SPE can be used for a completely different processing.


Hard drive gets all flashy

A hybrid memory system, combining a hard drive and flash memory, has been demonstrated by Samsung and Microsoft. The aim is to combine the fast read/write access times of NAND flash with the storage capacity of a rotating hard drive.

By using the 1Gbit flash as a cache for the hard drive, the drive does not need to spin continuously. When the write buffer is full, the drive is spun up and data written to magnetic storage. Boot up times can also be reduced, claimed the firms, by using the flash as a boot buffer during shut-down. Microsoft calls the device a hybrid hard drive (HHD). It is designed to work with Longhorn, the next generation of Windows.

Hybrid drive architecture... is an advancement that will improve the performance and reliability of any computer using the Windows Longhorn operating system, said Tom Phillips, general manager of Microsoft's Windows group.


Longhorn to support touch screens

Support for touch screens will come in addition to support for pen-based input that Microsoft currently offers in Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. Microsoft hopes the support in the operating system will move PC vendors to add touch screens to their mobile PCs, especially Tablet PCs, said Susan Cameron, group product manager at Microsoft.

We believe that the dual-mode input option on [Tablet PCs] will appeal to users, Cameron said.
On stage at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) on Tuesday in Seattle, Microsoft demonstrated a Fujitsu Tablet PC running Longhorn with added touch screen support.

Microsoft is working with component manufacturers to lower the cost of the required hardware so PC makers will seriously consider adding touch screens to their Tablet PCs, she said. "If you can have dual-mode input for a comparable price, why not do both?" Cameron said.

Longhorn is due out late next year. Microsoft has not yet disclosed packaging plans for the operating system. The touch screen support may be limited to a Tablet PC version of the operating system, if such a special edition is released, but could also be part of all editions of Longhorn, according to Microsoft representatives.

Source : Infoworld


Thursday, April 28, 2005
Want to be an MVP?

You think you have what is takes to be a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP)? Been involved in any community activities? Actively participating in news group? Well if you think you have a passion of becoming an MVP then you will find this post by Robert McLaws quite handy.

How to Become a Microsoft MVP.

Learn more about MVPs here.


Monday, April 25, 2005
PC Design Competition

As Microsoft Windows celebrates its 20th anniversary, Microsoft and IDSA want to envision the future with you by offering a unique challenge. Whether you're an established design team, and independent designer, or a student, here's your chance to help shape the future of the Windows-based PC experience and to win up to $125,000 USD, the recognition of the industry, and a distinction unlike any other. Download the design kit today - online submissions begin May 18, 2005!

  • Open to designs and designers worldwide in Microsoft .NET Passport-supported countries and regions.
  • Entering party, either individual or team representative must obtain a valid Microsoft .NET Passport.
  • Open to students in any industrial design program.
  • Student entries can be submitted in any category, even if the design is in research or corporately funded.
  • Employees of organizations and students at schools represented on the jury may not participate in the competition.
  • Entries may be sponsored by corporations. Entries already in production are ineligible.
  • Designs must adhere to entry kit criteria. Entrant names and the names of their consulting firms or schools may not appear anywhere in the entry kit except the Design Credit List doc. Failure to abide by this rule results in immediate disqualification.
  • Use of Microsoft and/or IDSA and/or ICSID branding, the Microsoft Windows flag, and/or copyrighted Microsoft elements not provided in the entry kit are strictly prohibited and may result in disqualification.
Judging Criteria

The Judge's Award, Chairman's Award, and Public's Choice Award* judgments are based on the following five criteria:
  • Innovation: is the design new and unique?
  • User Experience/Interaction: does the design make the PC easier to use?
  • Aesthetics: does the appearance enhance the emotional appeal of the product?
  • Technical ability: is the design enhanced with new technologies?
  • Ecology: is the design environmentally responsible?
Consideration given to the challenges of manufacturability including thermal cooling and noise reduction may also be considered as a part of the general judging criteria.

Peripheral component design concepts (e.g. Cell Phone, Digital Media Receiver, Printer, Portable Media Player, etc.) are not required, but may be included with concept designs to help aid in answering the challenge statement.

Submission Process and Deadline

Submission will take place in two parts:
  1. Online Submission
  2. Supplemental Mailing
  • Online submissions will be open between May 18th 2005 and 5:00pm EST, October 3, 2005. Details on online submission criteria can be found in the Entry Kit.
  • Once a submission is approved, a confirmation email will be provided with an entry ID number and a postal address to send supplemental material including essay question responses in English, CD/DVD submission of print-ready images (300 dpi or higher) and/or videos supplemental information must be received within a week of submission. Please see Entry Kit for complete details.
Please do not send your entry to IDSA's office or Microsoft. You must submit your entry online between May 18th 2005 and October 3, 2005 5:00 pm EST, followed up with print and supplemental materials mailed to Microsoft office within one (1) week.

By submitting your entry, you agree that any or all of the material may be published and utilized by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), Microsoft, and any other party authorized by IDSA and/or Microsoft in connection with the awards.

All decisions by the jury and/or Microsoft in conjunction with IDSA are final.

More details on contest website.


Metal Gear Solid 3 :: Secret Theatre

All Metal Gear Solid fans should check out these hilarious footages from the game Metal Gear Solid 3 : Snake Eater. The site will ask few easy questions in order to ensure that you have completed the game. Here's the link:

MGS 3 Secret Theatre.


Friday, April 22, 2005
Battle for the next gen disk standards

The battle of the discs has come to a halt...for the time being. According to numerous media outlets, including the Nikkei Journal, Sony and Toshiba have started negotiating a possible single next-generation disc standard that features the best aspects of both Sony's Blu-ray and Toshiba's HD-DVD formats. However, reports on the matter are mixed. Some media outlets are saying the negotiations have stalled, while others, including the Mainichi Daily News, say the two sides are close to a deal.

Sony and Toshiba each announced its own unique next-gen disc format in 2002, and each has been battling the other for upcoming market dominance. To date, the companies have split the market nearly down the middle. Sony's Blu-ray format has been adopted by more than 100 companies, while 83 firms have committed to Toshiba's HD-DVD format.

The Nikkei Journal reports both sides have acknowledged that a uniform standard is essential for market penetration. Both sides realize that two different formats could bring back the VHS-versus-Betamax wars of the early '80s, a competition Sony lost. The Journal says Sony and Toshiba have been talking behind closed doors since February. It also reports the two sides have already contacted American media firms, such as Walt Disney and AOL Time Warner, about the acceptance of a new common disc format.

The development of a new next-generation format could impact Sony's PlayStation 3. Sony revealed last September that its next-generation game console will use Blu-ray discs, also known as BD-ROMs. Sony hasn't yet commented on how a compromise disc format will affect its PlayStation 3 plans.

But just because the two sides are meeting to discuss the possibility of a compromise disc format doesn't mean any progress has been made. "There have been no major decisions or negotiation [breakthroughs] around the time of this news report," the Journal quotes a Toshiba representative as saying. "We are continuing to discuss on a unified format that will benefit our users, but there has been no significant progress."

Source : Gamespot


Thursday, April 21, 2005
Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2 with Free Books

Register Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2, get a free online book from MS Press

Microsoft Learning has partnered with the Visual Studio team to provide developers with additional incentive for registering Beta 2. Developers who register their copy of Beta 2 will have access to a free developer title from Microsoft Press. After downloading the Beta they receive an email telling them about the benefit, and encouraging them to register their Beta. When a user completes the registration process they will receive an email with a link to the online books, and an access code. Each user will have access to one book per code. Developers who register multiple SKUs of the Beta will receive additional access codes, giving them access to more books. The offer is available worldwide, books are English-only.

Detailed breakdown of free online books available for each VS Beta SKU:

VWD Express and VB Express
  • Introducing ASP.NET 2.0, English
  • Introducing Microsoft® Visual Basic® 2005, English
  • Writing Secure Code, 2nd Edition, English
J# Express, C# Express, C++ Express and SQL Express
  • Writing Secure Code, 2nd Edition, English
Visual Studio Standard, Visual Studio Professional, Visual Studio Team Suite and VS Premier Partner Edition
  • Introducing ASP.NET 2.0, English
  • Introducing Microsoft® Visual Basic® 2005, English
  • Writing Secure Code, 2nd Edition, English

Download Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2 from here. If you are in EMEA region then you have to wait till April 2005 when Beta 2 will be available with WeFly247.NET DVD.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005
XAML Blogs and Avalon

Found this blog quite useful. A must see for all XAML lovers like me. Currently downloading Avalon for Windows XP.

XAML Blogs can be found here.
Download Avalon.
Avalon Newsgroups.


Take your revenge with Websites

Always wanted to take revenge with the website you hated the most. Well your wait is almost over. Click the following link to go to Net Disaster, as website which will help you take all your revenge. I wonder how many of you will flood my blog ? Ha..

Click here to goto Netdisaster.


Tuesday, April 19, 2005
C# Language Chat at MSDN

The C# team will be having an online chat about the C# language and new features in .NET 2.0 on Thursday April 21st at 1pm PST and Friday 1 AM Pakistan Standard Time. This is a great opportunity to get your questions answered directly from the C# product team.

Register for the C# Language Chat.


Coding4Fun by MSDN

Microsoft has launched a new website aimed at developers who program for fun instead of profit with articles and information about how to use .NET 2.0 to develop games, media applications, and other personal use utilities. While aimed at the "hobbyist" developer, the site has some examples of how to use new .NET features that Enterprise developers can also learn from.

In particular, there is a very interesting article on building network utilities that shows how to use the new Semaphore class as well as new additions to the Systems.Net namespace that make simple network tasks like pinging a host significantly easier.

There is also an example of s system monitoring utility that monitors disk space, event logs, and network availability.

To get more information visit Coding4Fun.


Frodo Debuts the Next Xbox

The highly anticipated next version of the Xbox console will be revealed to videogame fanatics, music lovers, and MTV viewers via a high-energy half-hour program titled “MTV Presents: The Next-Generation Xbox Revealed.” The special will be hosted by entertainment icon, seasoned gamer, and Xbox fanatic Elijah Wood, known globally for the Academy Award-winning Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Island Records’ renowned Las Vegas rockers The Killers will deliver electrifying performances throughout the special.

Viewers will get an exclusive look at the Xbox vision for the next generation—one that ensures that the user experience is always connected, always personalized, and always in high definition. The special will feature never-before-seen, action-packed gameplay of future Xbox games; a peek into the future of the Xbox Live™ online gaming service; backstage celebrity interviews; and exclusive insider footage on the making of the next-generation console.

The inside look at the next-generation Xbox will continue at, where after the special, viewers will find extended event coverage, including behind-the-scenes video, photos, and other special extras. will also provide ongoing in-depth coverage of the next-generation Xbox, highlighting the latest news, product details, and previews of hot next-generation games.

The global broadcast will premiere Thursday, May 12, 2005, at 9:30 P.M. Eastern in North America and on Friday, May 13, 2005, in other regions around the globe.

Click here to read more and program details.


Microsoft Mystery Website

A few days ago a mysterious site popped up that is owned and maintained by Microsoft. With it is a minute long video telling us:
  • something is coming
  • something fun
  • something with reward
  • something with recognition
  • something with style
  • something inspired

We have to wait till April 25th to get the mystery revealed.

View the site here.


Intel reveals Wimax wireless chip

Tech giant Intel has unveiled a chip that gives access to wide-reaching wireless networks.

The new chip uses Wimax, which enables broadband connections over several miles, unlike the short range of wi-fi used in specific locations. The company has announced a series of trials with partners, including BT, around the world.

Wimax is seen as a method of extending broadband reach to whole cities, rural areas and countries with low net use. It is also seen by some analysts as a potential competitor to mobile phone networks, although such a clash is still some way off. Intel and other Wimax supporters will be hoping that the release of a chip will do for the technology what Centrino chips did for the spread of wi-fi.

The implementation of wi-fi-ready chips inside laptops by Intel helped propel the rapid growth of wi-fi networks around the world.

Source : BBC News


Sunday, April 17, 2005
Enter the human brain

If you think video games are engrossing now, just wait: PlayStation maker Sony Corp. has been granted a patent for beaming sensory information directly into the brain.

The technique could one day be used to create video games in which you can smell, taste, and touch, or to help people who are blind or deaf. The U.S. patent, granted to Sony researcher Thomas Dawson, describes a technique for aiming ultrasonic pulses at specific areas of the brain to induce "sensory experiences" such as smells, sounds and images.

"The pulsed ultrasonic signal alters the neural timing in the cortex," the patent states. "No invasive surgery is needed to assist a person, such as a blind person, to view live and/or recorded images or hear sounds."

According to New Scientist magazine, the first to report on the patent, Sony's technique could be an improvement over an existing non-surgical method known as transcranial magnetic stimulation. This activates nerves using rapidly changing magnetic fields, but cannot be focused on small groups of brain cells.

Niels Birbaumer, a neuroscientist at the University of Tuebingen in Germany, told New Scientist he had looked at the Sony patent and "found it plausible." Birbaumer himself has developed a device that enables disabled people to communicate by reading their brain waves.

A Sony Electronics spokeswoman told the magazine that no experiments had been conducted, and that the patent "was based on an inspiration that this may someday be the direction that technology will take us."



Thursday, April 14, 2005
4G Wireless

While 3G hasn't quite arrived, designers are already thinking about 4G technology. With it comes challenging RF and baseband design headaches.

Cellular service providers are slowly beginning to deploy third-generation (3G) cellular services. As access technology increases, voice, video, multimedia, and broadband dataservices are becoming integrated into the same network. The hope once envisioned for 3G as a true broadband service has all but dwindled away. It is apparent that 3G systems, while maintaining the possible 2-Mbps data rate in the standard, will realistically achieve 384-kbps rates. To achieve the goals of true broadband cellular service, the systems have to make the leap to a fourth-generation (4G) network.

This is not merely a numbers game. 4G is intended to provide high speed, high capacity, low cost per bit, IP based services.

The goal is to have data rates up to 20 Mbps, even when used in such scenarios as a vehicle travelling 200 kilometers per hour. New design techniques, however, are needed to make this happen, in terms of achieving 4G performance at a desired target of one-tenth the cost of 3G.

Read more here.


Sunday, April 10, 2005
Auto C# Code Generator

This is an excellent tool and a must see for all SQL Server programmers. Its a stored procedure which automatically generates C# code for any of existing stored procedure that you have in your database. Just run this SQL Script from your Query Analyzer which will create store procedure named "tools_CS_SPROC_Builder" which can be used to generete codes in C#. After executing the script type exec tools_CS_SPROC_Builder 'yourstoredprocedurenamehere' and see the C# sharp code in the message window. Simple isn't it?

Download the source code and read more here.


Wednesday, April 06, 2005
The Object-Oriented PIC Microcontroller

OOPic is specially designed for robotics and is a totally different approach in microcontrollers that uses Virtual Circuits to interact with the attached hardware while the application program focuses on controlling the Virtual Circuits in an Object-Oriented programming style. With a library of over 130 Objects, Most any Virtual Circuit can be created and Programmed in Basic, C, or Java syntax styles.

The concept behind OOPic is straight forward. Use preprogrammed multitasking Objects from a library of highly optimized Objects to do all the work of interacting with the hardware. Then write small scripts in Basic, C, or Java syntax styles to control the Objects. During operation, the Objects run continuously and simultaneously in the background while the scripts run in the foreground telling the objects what to do. Every aspect of the Objects can be controlled by the scripts as the Object do their work with the hardware. The OOPic Object library contains Object that know how to interact with the most popular sensors and drive systems around which make the OOPic ideally suited for robotics of any kind.

Another unique feature of OOPic is the Virtual Circuits capability. Virtual Circuits can be thought of as the software equivalence of an electronic circuit connecting together Objects in various ways. This allows the Objects to pass data to each other in the background so that your script doesn't have to. Virtual circuits can handle the processing required for speed control, time-out events, limit switches, emergency breaking, and a whole myriad of other function so that your script does not have pole for such tedious tasks. With a library of over 130 Objects, most any Virtual Circuit can be created. In several cases, entire applications can be built as pure Virtual Circuits.

More details on OOPic can be found here.


Visual Studio 2005 for Unix/Linux

After recent announcements that the latest version of Visual Studio .NET, code named Whidbey, would be delayed until late in the year the secret development project to implement .NET on Unix became impossible to contain.
"The code for Windows has been ready for manufacturing since late October of 2004, we've just been sitting on it waiting for the Unix teams to catch up" -- Anonymous Microsoft Official

The implications of this announcement are fairly clear. With the introduction of a modern toolset for developing enterprise applications in both Windows and Unix, developers using Sun Microsystem's Java language and the various asundry open source tools that are bubble gum and paper clipped onto the JVM will have little choice but to switch to the more robust C# language in .NET. Most of them won't notice a difference.

Complete article at TheServerSide.NET


Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Windows Security

It's been almost eight months since Windows XP Service Pack 2 arrived. But a new report from a company called AssetMetrix says that less than a quarter of North American businesses surveyed have adopted it. Are the other 75% just being lethargic? Well, maybe, but 40% of the surveyed companies are actively avoiding moving to XP SP2. In other words, they're intentionally sticking with an operating system version with gaping security glitches.

Service Pack 2 is an important update that patches any number of Windows holes; PC World has repeatedly recommended installing it. But the mass hesitance about the upgrade points out a basic conundrum about Windows security as it stands, which is that patching is ultimately a crummy way to get to a more secure computing platform.

Click here to read more.


Monday, April 04, 2005
IGS :: Images on the fly

No matter what kind of abstraction layer you build, to display images over the Web you still need an image tag pointing to a public URL. IGS (Image Generation Service) is composed of two main elements—a server control and an HTTP handler. The server control is an enhanced version of the Image control currently available in ASP.NET 1.x. It's a server-side wrapper around the HTMLimage element. The HTTP handler is a helper component that provides the data behind the URL of the imgae tag that is sent out to the browser. The HTTP handler represents a common piece of server code used to generate and manipulate the bytes of the image to display.

Read complete article here.


Saturday, April 02, 2005
MSDN Webcasts on C# Express Beta 2

There is a wonderful opportunity to see Beta 2 of Visual C# 2005 Express Edition in action. As you may or may not know, beta 2 of the Express Edition tools will not be released for a few more weeks, but the Express Edition teams at Microsoft are sponsoring a series of 3 one hour live MSDN Webcasts hosted by Bob Tabor of LearnVisualStudio.NET. He'll be building an entire application (an RSS Reader) from concept to deployment using the upcoming beta. They are free, and only require you signup at Microsoft's Events site. There are a limited number of seats to this event available, so sign up now to guarantee a seat.

A similar version of these Web casts geared for Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition will be held
later in April.

Click here to read more and sign up.