Category: Programming

Famo.us Is A Gaming Engine For 3D Interfaces

 

Famo.us, launching today at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco and brought to you by the same guy who founded PowerSet (Steve Newcomb), lets developers write fully 3D apps without having to depend on complex programming tricks or compiled apps. It’s a lot like the interfaces you see in Iron Man or Minority Report, and it works on nearly any platform, including desktops, Android, and iOS.

In essence, Famo.us is a JavaScript game engine that renders applications with high performance in both native and browser environments. The Famo.us engine does all the heavy lifting — you know, the stuff browsers are horrible at — and bypasses the operating environment to speak directly with the graphics hardware.

The system works by communicating directly with the GPU, which allows for speedy, high performance. Developers can use pre-designed templates, or develop their own, for various interfaces and simply feed their images or data into the models. The math involved with developing a 3D virtual world — at least one that performs well and follows the laws of physics — is incredibly dense, so you’d naturally assume that the coding language is foreign to most.

But no. Developers can code for Famo.us in JavaScript. It’s as simple as that. Because the technology speaks directly to the GPU, it works on any device: iOS, Android, web, gaming consoles, and anything else with a GPU.

Read the complete article, including a Q&A section, at TechCrunch.

 

IBM claims spintronics memory breakthrough

Computerworld – In a paper set to be published this week in the scientific journal Nature, IBM researchers are claiming a huge breakthrough in spintronics, a technology that could significantly boost capacity and lower power use of memory and storage devices.

Read the complete story at Computerworld

Feature: Google Gravity, a Collage of Search Results

Written by Yong Kim

Google Gravity comes from the imagination of Ricardo Cabello, whose Google+ profile shows his occupation as “Pressing buttons” and employment as “Mr Doob.”  His actual occupation is designer/developer. His site, Mr Doob, contains a variety of interactive new media projects, one of which is Google Gravity.

Back in March, in our own feature, No Man’s Land, I wrote about Google Sloppy, a lazy and inaccurate counterpart to Google, a humanistic version that yawns, makes mistakes and has malfunctioning parts. The search results I got from interacting with Google Sloppy didn’t yield any proper results, meaning Google Sloppy searched for something other than what I’d entered.  When I searched for “Charlie Sheen Winning,” I got the results for “charlie shee nwinning.”

Unlike Google Sloppy, Google Gravity yields the correct results (i.e. the results you’d get from Google).  As the name suggests, every link on Google’s home page–including the search field and links that are normally at the top of the screen–drops to the bottom when you enter the site.  All subsequent searches get piled on top until you have a collage of search results. If someone doesn’t like the arrangement of the links, then she can move them around at any time, including the search field.  As you can see from the screen capture above, I got my search field upside down, which was an accident, and couldn’t get right side up once the search results piled up.

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HTML5 Is An Oncoming Train, But Native App Development Is An Oncoming Rocket Ship

HTML5 versus native apps. It’s a debate as old as — well, at least three years ago. And pretty much since the beginning of that debate, there has been a general underlying current among the geek community that HTML5 is good and native is bad. Native is what we have to deal with as we wait for HTML5 to prevail.

But what if that never happens?

Let’s be honest: right now, most HTML-based mobile apps are a joke when compared to their native counterparts. It’s not even remotely close. In fact, you could argue that the discrepancy isn’t much smaller than it was three years ago. And considering that the App Store was only on the verge of launching at that point, in many ways, the discrepancy is even bigger. Just look at mobile games now, for example.

Developers often state their love of HTML5 and their commitment to it going forward. But many have no choice. Native app development is not only difficult, it’s expensive.

These days, if you’re going to do native apps, you at least have to support iOS and Android. That means at least two developers for each different language, and preferably more. And if your startup is big enough or hot enough (like Foursquare, for example), you’ll probably want to have apps for Windows Phone, Blackberry, and webOS as well (which, to be fair is largely HTML-based).

Talking to developers, this is the single biggest pain point on the mobile side of things. And many talk about HTML5 as the remedy. A number now choose to build an iOS app then settle on a web app for Android at first. Others do both iPhone and Android but only offer rudimentary sites for the other platforms.

But the fact that very few, if any, choose to go HTML5-only is telling. If we were anywhere close to the language being a unifier and savior, at least some would. We’re not close.

Let’s look at the debate from the perspective of the three hottest technology companies right now: Apple, Google, and Facebook.

Apple is basically all-in on native apps. Google is half-in on native apps, half-in on HTML5. Facebook is seemingly all-in on HTML5 (at least going forward).

Apple is very interesting in this regard. When the iPhone launched in 2007, the only native apps were the ones made by them. Developers were told to build web apps in order to get on the device. Who knows if Apple planned third-party native apps all along or if they pivoted when they saw the opportunity, but a year later, we had the App Store.

It’s the single reason there’s any debate right now.

Apple is now obviously native app all the way. But it’s on their own terms. When a developer makes an app that Apple doesn’t like in some way, they recommend that they make an HTML5 app to bring it to one of their devices.

It’s more or less a “my way or the highway” approach — it’s just a nice way of putting it. Apple is using the hype around HTML5 to their advantage here. They know that those apps can’t compete with their native apps, but so many people are so bullish about the future of the technology (and, to be fair, Apple seems to be as well at least on the Safari side of things) that Apple is able to play that to their advantage.

Read the complete article at TechCrunch.com.

NYC Hack Is Back

There’s something happening in New York City. New York Tech Meetup just announced they will be presenting hack demo at every one of their sold out events, New York’s first Music Hackday is hitting this weekend and it will be quickly followed by Foursquare’s first hackday the weekend after. Did the TC Disrupt Hackathon prefigure a growing trend here in the Big Apple?

This past weekend Columbia students demoed their best hacks, concluding their week-long DevFest 2011. Students had a week of workshops from local startups like Foursquare, Aviary and Bit.ly. The results were team hacks for everything from Facebook-generated birthday cards to time-sensitive, class-based messaging systems. Demos were presented to an audience that included New York startup luminaries including Fred Wilson, Chris Wiggins, Dave Jagoda, Steve Jacobs, Justin Singer and Thatcher Bell. Here are some of our favorites from DevFEst 2011.

Highlights

CU Board – Moses Nakamura, Andrew Hitti, Ephraim Park, & Mark Liu. A brilliant and potentially disruptive (for better or worse) idea for the classroom. Modeled on the anonymous boards in 4chan, the idea is to create discrete, time sensitive, open chat rooms tied exclusively to a class and only for the duration of a class. An online, digital note-passing system of sorts that gives students a voice and instructors an unvarnished, real-time view of their lecture.

Read the complete article at TechCrunch.

O’Reilly Author: Alasdair Allan – Astronomy and the iPhone

The way astronomers work is changing. Over the last few years isolated telescopes have been integrated into expanding smart telescope networks, spanning continents, and able to respond to transient events in seconds. At the same time the rise of data warehousing has made data mining more practical, and correlations between new and existing data can be drawn in real time. Astronomy, once a data-poor science, has become data-rich.

My own work over this period has focused on applying intelligent agent architectures and techniques to astronomy for telescope control and scheduling, and also for data mining. I’m currently leading the work at Exeter building a peer-to-peer distributed network of telescopes that, acting entirely autonomously, can reactively schedule observations of time-critical transient events in real-time. Notable successes include contributing to the detection of the most distant object yet discovered, a gamma-ray burster at a redshift of 8.2.

Read more at O’Reilly GMT