Microsoft engineers reinvent the Optimus keyboard

Looks like Microsoft has come up with a pretty slick little keyboard. It’s very much like the Optimus, which has an OLED screen in every key, except that it doesn’t have a screen in every key. Instead there’s just one screen on the whole unit and they keys have been overlayed on top while allowing the image to show through. Brilliant really, since this should drastically reduce the $2400 price tag of the original. That is, if you could buy the device. Microsoft’s not selling this hardware (yet anyway), but offering it up as test hardware for the UIST Innovation Contest. It will be interesting to see what the students come up with. This keyboard should be easier to program for since it involves manipulating just one screen. There is also extra space at the top that is touch-sensitive. See for yourself after the break.

[Read more...]

freeBOOT gives the Xbox 360 JTAG hack new life

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There has been another development in the never-ending battle that is Microsoft trying to keep its gaming system closed to unauthorized use. Xbox-scene reports that a new hack called freeBOOT v0.01 allows the Xbox 360 to upgrade to the newer kernels, but allows the option of rebooting to an older kernel in order use the JTAG exploit and gain access to the hardware.

In case you missed it, the JTAG hack is a way to run homebrew code on an Xbox 360. Exploiting this hack makes it possible to boot a Linux kernel in about five seconds. We’ve long been fans of the homebrew work done with XBMC on the original Xbox and hope that advances like this will lead to that end. We want this because the older hardware cannot handle high definition content at full resolution but the Xbox 360 certainly can.

This exploit is still far from perfect. It currently requires that the Cygnos360 mod chip be installed on the system. A resistor also needs to be removed from the board to prevent accidental kernel updating. That being said, this is still progress. If you’re interested in step-by-step details, take a look at the text file instructions provided.

[Thanks wdfowty]

Five concept mice add multi-touch control

Microsoft is showing off five concepts for added mouse functionality. All of them seek to replace traditional move-and-click with touch sensitivity through either capacitive sensing, video recognition, sensor articulation, or laser scanning. We’re excited about the prospects of some of these features but at the same time wonder what this does to the price of this much-abused peripheral. After the break we’ll touch on each of the devices, along with time references for the video embedded above. [Read more...]

Microsoft unveils Open Source multi core OS

group (Custom)

A new operating system, code named Barrelfish is being developed by Microsoft research labs and ETH Zurich in Switzerland. This operating system is being built with multi core operations foremost in priority. It is supposed to be extremely scalable and able to function on a very wide range of hardware. You can download the current snapshot of it on their site and dig into the source code, released under a 3-clause BSD style license. If you would like to learn the primary differences between this OS and Windows or Linux, you can read this PDF.

[via Engadget]

Zune HD teardown

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Our friends over at ifixit are at it again, how they get these devices so early before release and make a complete teardown in time still amazes us. Today they bring us the latest Microsoft media device, the Zune HD. Some features worth mentioning: The astoundingly thin, 1mm we’re talking, OLED screen. The Nvidia Tegra 2600 processor, hinting at 3D game capability. And finally who could forget the 660 mAh battery. But isn’t that 129 mAh less than the iPod touch? Microsoft’s reply, supposedly the Zune HD is using many more low power hardware solutions in this device. Either way, the competition is on, who will be the victor?

CableCard card tuners on the way

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We were momentarily excited when we heard that CableCARD compatible tuners will be available for purchase by the end of the year. A card like this would allow you to hook up your digital cable to your computer and record programs natively. This has been possible for a long time with analog cable and PVR software such as MythTV. Up to this point, recording digital cable has required a dedicated cable box and workarounds to allow the computer to change channels.

Wait a minute though, the announcement was made by Microsoft? Indeed. Microsoft has been making a big push into the home theater PC market with Media Center. Redmond’s PVR offering is also limited to recording analog television;opening up digital would expand the marketplace for them. But here’s where it gets hairy: if you read the Microsoft announcement, TV shows flagged as CF (copy freely) are the only ones that can be recorded.

So, if we have this right:  you shell out money for a new tuner then you pay more for the rental of the CableCARD. Both of these expenditures are on top of a digital cable subscription. And yet you can only record shows marked with a “Copy Freely” flag. Who makes the decision on which shows we can pay to record?

Cain and Abel: Windows password recovery utility

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As far as password recovery utilities go, Cain & Abel is by far one of the best out there. It’s designed to run on Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/Vista but has methods to recover passwords for other systems. It is able to find passwords in the local cache, decode scrambled passwords, find wireless network keys or use brute-force and dictionary attacks. For recovering passwords on other systems Cain & Abel has the ability to sniff the local network for passwords transmitted via HTTP/HTTPS, POP3, IMAP, SMTP and much more. We think it is quite possibly one of the best utilities to have as a system administrator, and definitely a must have for your toolbox.

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