All posts by Raseel Bhagat

TeachNext : An Educational Set-Top-Box from India

TeachNext is a Set-Top-Box solution focusing on the Indian Education sector. It is an end-to-end solution providing the complete package right from a STB, it’s remote and state-of-the-art software and content comprising of the most updated syllabus.

TeachNext STB and RemoteThe TeachNext STB is a custom-built STB with capabilities of delivering content to either the Projector or a LCD television. The software contains chapter-wise “Lesson Plans” created by experienced teachers and educationalists. Apart from adhering to India’s CBSE board syllabus, the content follows the NCERT guidelines. The courses are so designed as to cater for Teacher-led classrooms as well as for self-learning.

Some other features of this unique solution are :

  • 2D & 3D Audio-Visual lessons for K12
  • An evaluation system that covers all aspects of a student’s development.
  • An innovative tools called “NextStudio” which comes with an image library of   over 13000 images.
  • Content partnerships with various international content developers to provide quality e-learning experience.
  • Question Paper software for frequent student evaluations.

To get a taste of TeachNext’s software, head to their demo page and watch the demos various subjects like Biology, Physics, Chemistry , Math, etc.

TeachNext is not just a startup product. TeachNext has started advertising on mainstream Indian television channels during prime-time programs.Watch some of their Ads here.

TeachNext STB Remote TV

They already have a list of schools who are using their product in their classrooms. In fact, they claim to have more than 1000 clients already. If the likes of Panbai International School, one of the premier schools in Mumbai, India , have already embraced this solution, one can image that other International schools may have followed the trend.

Is this the future of education ? Will digitizing the classroom boost productivity while retaining the short attention spans and providing valuable education, all at the same time ?

New website launched for GNOME 3 Desktop

A new website dedicated for the much awaited GNOME 3 desktop was launched today by the GNOME project.

GNOME 3

The website, GNOME 3 , with the same name as the Desktop Environment of that version, currently just lists the features that the users will experience once GNOME 3 is officially released. GNOME 3 Overview 1

  • Some enticing features mentioned on the site are :
  • A beautiful , sleek new design for an improved look and feel.
  • Built-in Messaging system to make instant messaging quick and effortless
  • Re-designed System Settings which grants more control to the user
  • An improved file manager
  • Dark Application Themes for when you want to focus on pictures and videos
  • Ability to use Flickr images as Desktop backgrounds

GNOME 3 Overview 2Eventually, the developers plan to make all the GNOME 3 releases , which are scheduled from April 2011, through this website. Till then, they have a Try It page where you should be able to download a Live USB image soon. For the geeks, the Try It page contains a link to instructions for manually building the Gnome 3 Shell.

The FAQ section answers some basic questions that current users of GNOME 2 may have about GNOME 3’s plans , roadmaps, compatibility with older applications, links to get involved, etc.

The mockups, screenshots and the claims by the GNOME developers ,do look promising. We’ll be watching this space to see whether GNOME 3 delivers on it’s promises.

Playboy App for iPad to be Available on App Store

Hugh Hefner, the notorious founder of the erotic magazine Playboy, has announced that, come this March, an official Playboy application for the iPad will be available on the App Store.

Hefner’s announcement was made through a tweet on   his twitter account :

Big news! Playboy–both old & new–will be available on iPad beginning in March.

Playboy logo
This was followed by more updates from him mentioning that the Playboy Magazine App will be uncensored. Furthermore, all the editions of the magazine, even past editions will be available on the iPad.

It’s not that the App store currently does not have sexually explicit Apps on the App Store. In fact, there is already   a Playboy app for the iPhone. We have previously covered Apple’s dual policy, where Apple thought it fit to ban 5000 Apps, but did not touch the Playboy app. But having a completely uncensored version for a bigger form factor, like the iPad, is quite another thing.

Could this mean a surge of such applications for the iPad ? Will this eventually penetrate the iPhone and iPod Touch devices too ?

Source : GigaOM

Next Ubuntu Release to have Qt Applications

Ubuntu‘s founder and CEO of Canonical Ltd., Mark Shuttleworth, declares the probability of including Qt applications in the release after the next (Ubuntu 11.10), of the popular Ubuntu distribution, which is based on the Gtk toolkit.

“As part of our planning for Natty+1, we’ll need to find some space on the CD for Qt libraries, and we will evaluate applications developed with Qt for inclusion on the CD and default install of Ubuntu.”

Ubuntu  logo
Gtk and Qt have traditionally been “rival” toolkits for the GNOME and KDE desktops respectively. Choosing either of the sides in any self-respecting Linux forum, is considered a sure-shot way to start a flame war. However, Mark Shuttleworth, as always, decides to wade through uncharted waters in proclaiming the co-existence of Gtk as well as Qt applications in a production, mainstream and popular OS like Ubuntu, notwithstanding the fact that there exists seperate distributions for each Desktop environment, viz. GNOME and KDE (Kubuntu)

In his blog, Mark explains his controversial decision by pointing out that Canonical is dedicated to providing best-in-class software to it’s users and to this effect, a “capable toolkit” like Qt could certainly be looked upon as a “divergence from the canonical way to maintain a vibrant ecosystem”.

Qt logo
Apart from aspects like sociological backlashes, Mark and his team of developers will also have to face some pretty daunting technical issues. For example, Qt-based applications will have to talk to GNOME’s dconf configuration system to have a seamless integration with the GNOME Desktop. Although projects like the GTK-QT Engine are already out there, their credibility of being more than “hacks” is yet to be verified for their inclusion in a mass-deployed project like Ubuntu.

Is the Gtk-Qt marriage possible ? And if this does turn out to be a successful venture, will Ubuntu see other toolkits and libraries like Enlightenment, being included in future releases ? With so many changes to Ubuntu, can Canonical manage to uphold Ubuntu’s status as one of the most popular Linux Operating Systems ?

Do let us know what you think ?

Notion Ink’s Adam Tablet to Ship from Today

We have discussed Notion Ink‘s Adam tablet quite a number of times. Right from Rohan Shravan’s interview to the latest controversy of delayed pre-order shipments.

The Adam tablet’s pre-order shipments were delayed because they had not got the   Certification numbers from FCC and CE which are required to be printed on every device.

Rohan’s blog, updated yesterday, confirms that they have finally got the required FCC and CE clearance and they would start shipping this batch of devices from today, i.e., 19th January

Rohan has also posted a few pics of the   ready-to-be-shipped Adam devices on his blog.

Shipment Ready Adam Tablets

Evolve III Maestro trible boots into Windows 7, Meego and Android

Evolve III is an Australian company with a tablet offering called Evolve III Maestro.

As per the company’s website, they offer two different “slates”,   one running Windows 7 and the other running a modified version of Meego. However, apart from the different OSes,   there doesn’t seem to be any difference in the hardware.

The thing that separates this tablet from most others is that it is based on Intel’s Atom N475 processor rather than any ARM core.

Currently there is no mention of Android on their website. But interestingly enough, they claim that the production version of the tablet will Triple boot into Windows 7, Meego and Android.

The hardware specs for the Evolve III Maestro are pretty impressive too :

  • Intel Atom N475 dual-core 1.83 GHZ processor
  • 2 GB RAM
  • Wifi 802.11 b/g/n and 3G network connectivity
  • 10 inch LCD touchscreen
  • 32 GB SSD (upgradeable to 64 GB)
  • Bluetooth

In a sea of ARM-based Android tablets, it would be interesting to see how Evolve III manages to hold their ground.

Word Lens : Magic Software Translates Languages in Real-time [Videos]

The blogosphere and twitterati are calling it “magic software”. If you think it’s surprising that even in this day and age, with all the capabilities of software, one can still consider some piece of software as magical, then you have to try it out to believe it.

Quest Visual, a startup comprising all of two people, are the ones behind all the buzz.

They have released an iPhone application called “Word Lens”. Word Lens is an Augmented Reality application which does language translation in real-time video. Real-time video translation is a difficult feat especially when done using the computing power of only an iPhone. To top this, Word Lens does not even require any network connectivity. So there is no time lag of getting information from the Internet and then displaying it, which is usually common for Augmented Reality applications.

If you are still not convinced, check out these videos of Otavio Good, one of the founders of Quest Visual , demoing “Word Lens”.

As per Otavio, the application is still in it’s initial version and needs a lot of improvement with text recognition , speed and the number of language it supports.Word Lens is currently supported on iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPod Touch 3G.

It is left to one’s imagination how useful this application can get. Right from reading restaurant menus to road signs, it can become an indispensable tool for tourists.

With plans to be able to look-up the words on say, Wikipedia, read fine-text accurately and support a lot more languages, I think this application which topped the charts on the App Store, sure has a lot of potential.

You can directly download Word Lens for the iPhone from here

Amarok 2.4 “Slipstream” Released

The last Amarok release covered by us was Amarok 2.3.1 “The Bell”.

Yesterday, Amarok 2.4 “Slipstream” was released. Some notable features in this release are :

  • Compatibility with iPod Touch 3G and possibly newer devices like iPhone 3G, 3GS.
  • The ability to transcode tracks from one format to another.
  • Ability to get Guitar and Bass tab information.
  • A map and calendar view for upcoming concerts and events.
  • Support for UPnP devices, which adds ability to play music from UPnP servers on the local network.

Apart from these there are a number of performance, stability and usability enhancements as well, which is usually the mark of a major version release. Some of these are :

  • Configurable size of on-screen-display font.
  • Collapsing animations of context applets.
  • Progress bar while loading the Wikipedia applet.
  • Added settings for writing statistics and album covers back to file to maintain information across devices.
  • Ability to hide and show Menu bar.

Amarok 2.4.0 "Slipstream"

Check out the official announcement from KDE for more detailed description of the features and the Changelog from the last release.

You can directly download Amarok 2.4 “Slipstream” for your favorite OS from here.

Cisco announces Linux-based IPTV STB

Cisco Systems has announced that they are building a suite of Linux-based products under the “Videoscape” brand to rival the likes of Google and Apple in their STB offerings. Very much like the Google TV or Apple TV, the Videoscape devices will have capabilities of accessing cable TV as well web video content.

The device will consist of a media gateway, an IP set top box and other Linux-based components which will enable consumers to not only access web content, but also search and manage cable TV, Internet video and video-conferencing . Furthermore, the consumer will able to watch their subscribed content from any of their devices like smartphones and tablet PCs.

Cisco plans to unveil two versions of their set-top-box. The first one, a Cisco TES301 IP Managed Services Gateway, will be an application-centric gateway that would integrate voice, high speed data, online video and routing. Other services like home monitoring and security will also be available as additional offerings.

Cisco Videoscape IPTV STB Media Gateway

The second and more advanced device , Cisco DRG 7000 Series IP Video Gateway, will be able to stream high-definition video to multiple devices through conversion of MPEG4 video from multicast to unicast. It will support industry standards like MoCA and DLNA.

Integration to social media websites will also be included enabling the user to share the content he’s watching with his friends.

Withholding the price of the device, Cisco has decided not to make these devices available off-the-shelf, for direct consumer consumption. Instead, Cisco plans to tie-up with service providers and make them available through cable operators. Currently only Australia’s Telstra has decided to offer these high-end STBs to their customers.

OLPC XO 1.75 : ARM Marvell SoC based XO Laptop

Remember OLPC ? It was the ambitious One Laptop Per Child project which aimed at providing low-cost, low-powered laptops to under-privileged children around the wold.

Arguably, OLPC’s XO Laptop was one of the first mainstream Netbooks, despite the fact that it was not commercially available to consumers for quite some time after it’s release. OLPC XO 1.75

At CES 2011 this year, OLPC finally declared their 3rd generation XO Laptop, christened XO 1.75 .

The XO 1.75 has Marvell’s ARM SoC. Marvell’s 610 Armada platform consists of an ARM based application processor in the 1 GHz range, capable of 1080p, full-HD encode, decode, and 3D graphics capability.

OLPC’s CTO, Edward McNierney, confirms OLPC’s strategy of pushing the PC/Laptop industry towards ARM support for lower power consumption and lower prices through increased competition and optimized SoC designs.

Here’s hoping OLPC has a great year ahead.