The Evangelist

Worldwide Technology News

Yet another new web browser has entered the fray, this time by a Tokyo, Japan-based company by the name of Lunascape Corporation.

Get Lunascape Browser.

Lunascape, while not open-source, is freeware. While it has been around in Japan for a little while, it is just getting started in the United States with an english release now that the company has an operation in San José, California.

The browser is based on Microsoft's Internet Explorer platform, so it only runs on Windows. There is a reason for this, however, so don't give up on it yet. Lunascape can switch between the Webkit (Chrome and Safari), Trident (Internet Explorer) and Gecko (Firefox) layout engines with ease. This doesn't make it a combination of the browsers listed above (so it isn't necessarily the fastest because one of the above is considered the fastest at the time) but instead a capable web browser for viewing different sites which may render better or faster using a certain layout engine instead of the other two. This could also make Lunascape a capable platform for web developers to test their site's compatilibity with a number of different layout engines all with one browser.

The company claims that the browser has the world's fastest JavaScript rendering engine.

Lunascape has several other innovative features including podcast aggregation, RSS "news-flashes," and mouse gesture capabilities (which can already been found in Opera). The browser also promises to be compatible with many Internet Explorer add-ons and Firefox plugins alike; an amazing feat.

The browser also sports the now nearly ubiquitous tabs feature as well as a built-in RSS reader.

I'm looking forward to trying out Lunascape for a while, and I'm hoping that the browser makes some waves in the market. New competition can only serve to encourage innovation, and there's nothing wrong with that.

For more information or to download Lunascape, you can visit their website at

Click picture to see larger version.

Just thought I'd share this little tidbit from my spam folder on Gmail.

They promise "minute" profits. But when I saw minute, this is the first thing that came to mind:
Very small, diminutive

Blockbuster has finally made the leap with Video On Demand (VOD) services after staying out of a market that has proved to be massive and growing at a huge rate for years.

While Blockbuster was sitting around with their stores (which have a poor selection of titles) and eventually DVD rentals by mail, other companies such as Netflix have had mail subscriptions for years and opened the doors on Video In Demand a while back, bith Netflix even offering streaming movies that can be viewed on devices such as PCs, Macs, and even the Xbox 360. There have been other services with similar offerings as well. Blockbuster has suffered because of these services and because of their overconfidence in their retail stores.

With Blockbuster's new service, they basically claim that they will have more new titles when compared to Netflix's services, which seems to focus more on television shows and classic movies. I fail to see what's wrong with having classics, but whatever floats their boat.

Unlike Netflix, which charges a flat monthly fee, there is a fee for each rental. In order to get the device from Blockbuster, you first have to pay $99 for the first 25 rentals, and you get the device for free. You can learn more (or buy the device) at

I'll be waiting to see how well this service goes over.

You have probably already heard of Intel's Atom microprocessor, which is designed specifically for use in small devices (if you haven't, check out my article here). Intel has now expanded on the Atom with a dual-core version that sips more power but offers more processing power. While the Atom isn't as powerful as the old Pentium D dual-core desktop processors of the past, it is certainly getting close, and Atom processors are clearly more powerful than the old Pentium 4M processors that used to be found in upper-end laptops. Of course, they sip far less power and are far smaller than the Pentium D, which was made for high-end desktops; a truly impressive feat, but that's the way technology evolves.

The Atom isn't without competition, however; VIA, another company involved in the x86 (Intel-compatible) processor market has a competing product. VIA has been producing low-power chips for applications such as Tablet PCs for years, and so their producing a competitor to the Atom just makes sense.

The VIA Nano simply hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. While the Atom does not support x64 and therefore 64-bit applications, the Nano does. While this may seem minor, Microsoft has stated that Windows 7, the next release of Windows, will primarily come in 64-bit editions, and 32-bit editions, while still available, will probably take a backseat and be mostly for those who want to upgrade their older machines (many OEMs like Hewlett Packard have already started installing 64-bit editions of Vista as standard on their new PCs despite compatability worries). Also, Windows 7 may be the last version of Windows to support processors without x64 extensions. Many believe that Microsoft will take advantage of the quickly-growing netbook market with Windows 7. This may make the company change their plans and continue active support for processors without 64-bit extensions. Microsoft has not (as of yet) been very active in getting a product out in the netbook market; they have only released the stripped-down version of Windows XP Home for netbooks and Linux has done well in the market. Windows 7 with its MinWin kernel promises to at least be better for netbook applications by taking up less memory and using memory more effectively on lower-end hardware. It will certainly be interesting to see how this plays out. It seems likely that Intel will add 64-bit extensions to their Atom processors. The VIA Nano, however, offers that already.

The Nano was launched this year on May 29. It is a single-core processor based on either 65nm or 45nm technology and with a front-side bus (FSB) speed from 800 MT/s to 1333 MT/s. They have support for Error-Correcting Code (ECC) as well as hardware virtualization technology (based on Intel's implementation), which Intel usually supports only on their higher-end Core 2 chips. They also have a 128KB L1 cache and a 1MB L2 cache. If you are wondering about multimedia program comaptibility, the Nano supports the SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, and MMX instruction sets.

A dual-core version is on track to be released in 2010. This presents an interesting parallel between current netbook chips and laptop chips of the past. Intel had released the original 32-bit Core Duo laptop processors, while AMD had released single-core Turion processors with 64-bit support. Here, we see that Intel has a 32-bit netbook processor while VIA has a 64-bit chip. The Core Duo processors outperformed the Turion processors, but the Turions were future-proofed. Of course, Intel is a marketing machine. AMD stood little chance, and VIA doesn't even have as many marketing resources at their disposal as AMD. This will likely result in the Nano being used in a smaller number of devices, which might mean that Intel will face no real competition. It's really up to the manufacturers now. Either they choose to put the Nano in their products, recognizing its merits, or they don't. To some degree, it is also up to the customer. Some will likely see "VIA" and read "not Intel so probably won't run my programs." Sure, there may be somebody there to explain, but old habits are hard to break. Even AMD has a difficult time because people don't always understand that their products are more like Intel's offerings then not.

I am afraid that the Nano will not attain much marketshare. The chip may have other effects on the market, however; in order to stay ahead, Intel may add 64-bit support and other features to their Atom processors. Competition can encourage innovation.

The Nano won't be the Atom's only competition; AMD will be entering the market, or so they say. While Intel was producing Atom chips and selling them like hotcakes, AMD was telling us that they didn't think that there was a market in netbooks and nettops and that they weren't willing to risk the investment. AMD is finally coming around, however, and their latest roadmaps indicate that they are now working on a chip that is meant for higher-end applications than the Atom but will be in the netbook and nettop market. The chip also promises to be cheaper than the Atom, but I have a feeling that Intel will try their best to ensure their dominance of the netbook market, and Intel has plenty of time to respond now that AMD has announced the product. That's the price they have to pay for reassuring their shareholders. I really do hope that AMD succeeds with their prouduct.

Here's to hoping that innovation triumphs.

Just to let everybody know, I am taking the day off from blogging.

I do have quite a few articles in store, however, so stay tuned for more articles soon.

To everyone in the United States, have a happy Thanksgiving.

-The Evangelist

For years, various stock market simulations have existed. These simulations have generally been based on real stock markets, using real-world data to determine the success (and failure) of investors. This is good for those who want experience in what it really is like to trade in the stock market. Everything is very real, except for the fact that virtual investors can't really have an effect on the market. This is more significant when virtual investors are dealing with large sums of money (which they likely couldn't afford to invest in a real stock market), but when considering simulations with hundreds or even thousands of users, having no effect on the market can make trading in a simulation seem boring for some unless they are into investing.

While some might fall under this category, others do not. But that's what Thotmarket is for. Thotmarket is a social bookmarking site (similar to Digg) and stock market simulation combined. Users can invest in 'thots', virtual stocks, post coments on thots with a certain value (which may eventually lead to a payout for the shareholders of a thot) and send comments to other users (for a certain amount of credit that is determined by the user you are trying to message). Every user starts with $1000 (virtual money, of course). You can do any of the above actions with your funds, or you can even offer a new thot to the market with a certain investment. By offering stock and/or investing, you have the opportunity to gain more credits if the value of the stock increases and you can sell the stock for more than you initially put in. However, you must choose the right investments or, in the case of a new offering, set an optimal trading price to ensure that people will actually value the thot. If people don't think the thot is worth the price, think the thot will not succeed, or think that the investment will not be worth it, they will not invest in the thot. Therefore, it is best to give the thot a popular and quality link, video, or feed.

Thotmarket is certainly an excellent way to spend some time, and a great alternative to trying to boost your site through massive social bookmarking sites such as Digg, where the small bits (even if they are valuable) are drowned out by big sites and larger news. And Thotmarket's emphasis on new thots for their front "marketplace" page is bound to help newer thots gain more attention. This, in turn, means more people clicking the link to your site, video, or feed of choice. This could be very good for webmasters who want tp get something out of their time spent on the site.

Check out this page for more information or visit to get started.

The Evangelist is already listed. You can see its ticker below and visit the thot here.

When it comes to social software, I haven't always been extremely enthusiastic. There are plenty of bad things about sites such as Myspace and even Facebook. From identity theft to viruses that create vast botnets, social networking applications do present new problems. This isn't to say I haven't used a good handful of them (including the professional LinkedIn), it's just to say that they have their downsides.

Some of these appliances, however, can't be overlooked. They offer something totally new and never seen before. One recent innovation that is just starting to get more mainstream is social searching. Google has started dabbling with this with their new SearchWiki. The feature can be used on Google by anyone logged in with a Google account to either promote or remove a result from your personal listing as well as comment on any page. It is unclear, however, what effect this will have on a page's Google ranking in the end.

While Google is the largest search engine and therefore the largest to operate social searching, it is still a mainstream search engine, and it has its limitations when it comes to social search. That's where Scour comes in. Scour combines results from the big three search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Live Search from Microsoft) with social searching methods. This means that the relevance of results for searches is ranked by the users themselves. This can be superior to the traditional algorithm-based search because unrelated results (which may contain sites with spammed keywords or meta-tags) typically get ranked down, as opposed to them getting ranked because of their keywords by search engines (this has been a tough problem that Google has worked hard to deal with). With Scour you can do everything you would expect to be able to do with a social search engine, such as comment on sites and vote on the relevance of results.

Scour, however, takes social search to new heights. With user-controlled options on how many top results you get from each search engine and the option to favor results from a specific search engine, Scour certainly offers more customizability than most other social search engines. Scour also has an innovative points system. For every search, ranking, and comment (up to one time per each search), you get a point. These points can later be cashed for Visa debit gift cards after getting an appropriate amount of points. Scour gets the money for these payouts from their advertising on the site. To ensure that nobody abuses the system, Scour checks all accounts manually before payout. This means they can ensure that the searches and comments aren't spammed or bot-generated. In the case of some, they promise only to remove points for those who mean no harm to the system. The check keeps those who are there only to earn, however, from ruining it for everybody. This has made it so that nobody has gotten an incredible amount of money from them so far. But it also means that unlike many other programs that offer you money or prizes for doing something such as viewing advertising, Scour's promise is not absurd.

For more information on how Scour works, or to get started, you can visit the Scour website. You do not need to be registered to see how a sample search works.

We've all heard of Apple's unique offerings in the consumer desktop segment, the Mac Mini and the iMac. While the iMac has sold decently, the Mac Mini evidently has not sold as well as Apple has hoped. In fact, there are rumors that Apple may phase it out completely.

While the Mac Mini is pretty neat when it comes to size, it is expensive for what you get, and there are no upgrade options. The iMac, on the other hand, is limiting; those who already have monitors or don't want to be restricted to one monitor don't want an all-in-one. If you do want upgradeability, the only option is the Mac Pro, which costs more than $2000 USD for a base model.

Why can't Apple release a machine for the rest of us?

I'm sure Apple is hoping that those who long for/need upgradeability will jump for the Mac Pro. However, I also think that Apple is losing quite a few customers here. Surely Apple, of all companies, could come up with something original that definitely isn't a commodity PC in form factor but that is capable of being upgraded to a good extent and can take a decent video card. It's not asking much. It seems to me that this is a pretty big problem for those who want OS X but need this kind of machine (not a Mac Pro).

With Apple suffering because of the economic situation, a product like this would be aptly timed and perfectly appropriate. The only question is whether or not Apple will see it that way.

Mozilla has announced that they will stop updating the Firefox 2 series this December.

What will this mean? Firefox 2 and Thinderbird 2 will stop receiving updates of any kind, and all browsers based on Gecko 1.8 will at the very least not receive security updates from Mozilla. This means that Seamonkey 1.1, the original Flock browser, K-Meleon, Camino 1.5.5, Epiphany 2.16 and all older versions will no longer receive Mozilla security update.

Mozilla is encouraging users to switch to Firefox 3 to keep their systems secure. Those using third-party Gecko browsers should really update as well; there can really be little harm in it the way that browsers have been improving in speed these days.

This will mean that users who want Firefox on Windows ME or any older Windows operating system will have to stick with Firefox 2 despite the fact that support is stopping.

If you ask me, Mozilla is doing what is right. By killing of continued support, they can focus their efforts on developing new technologies such as Firefox 3. In the end, many users will benefit from this.

In the world of portable gaming, there are two main contenders: The Nintendo DS and Sony's PSP (Playstation Portable). Both of these portable consoles are designed to run commercial, proprietary games that usually have to be approved by the maker of the portable (especially in the case of Nintendo). In addition, the game studios have to pay royalties to be able to develop games. In addition, there are many other restrictions that may be put on the game studios such as how many cartridges they are alloted, how few copies they must produce, and whether or not they can sell the game on other systems simultaneously. This effectively eliminates the production of indie games for these portable consoles (except for underground development not supported by Nintendo or Sony) as well as the availability of emulators.

The same is not true, however, for the little-known portables that run open source software and thrive on indie and homebrew games.

Released on November 10, 2005, the GamePark Holdings GP2X is a Linux-based portable console with media playback capability. The GP2X spawned a great deal of homebrew games and could run emulators to play games from numerous other consoles. As of August 31, 2008, 60,000 GP2X units have been sold. The GP2X is still being sold in Korea as an aid for those wishing to learn the English language; however, a successor has been released and has taken the spotlight in most markets.

The GamePark Holdings GP2X Wiz should be first available this November. The Wiz is, like its predecessor, Linux-based and open source. A brochure for the console states that new commercial games will be released for the console on a monthly basis as well. The price advertised for the Wiz is around $180 USD per unit, a reasonable price for the capabilities of the console.

Despite the fact that the Wiz is considerably more powerful, the current specs for the consoles indicate that it will be slimmer than the original GP2X. The Wiz features an OLED screen instead of an LCD screen, which means that the response time will be better on the Wiz and that the screen will have a better viewing angle. The Wiz has built-in flash memory for storage and can also take SD cards for additional storage

Perhaps even more amazingly, it is planned that the Wiz will have Flash Player 7 at the time of its launch, brining a more rich web experience to the console.

The Wiz, unlike the GP2X, has competition this time around.

The Pandora, manufactured by OpenPandora, aims to be a higher-end console than the Wiz. At $330 USD, it carries considerably more expense as well, but this is understandable for what you get. The Pandora was designed with constant feedback from the GP32X community, and therefore reflects more what the gamers want than what the company that makes the device wants. It runs a derivative of the Linux distribution Ångström and includes a number of PDA qualities in addition to traditional gaming abilities.

Pandora will be a platform for homebrew games as well as emulators. With its greater power, the developers of the Pandora believe it can emulate the Playstation and any older consoles including the Amiga, Atari Jaguar, and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (NES, otherwise known as the Super Famicom). With a full keyboard, the console should also be able to emulate consoles such as the Commodore 64 with full capabilites. The console, with its poweful GPU, may even be able to emulate some Nintendo 64 games; however, it is not clear what exactly will be possible yet.

Because the console uses Linux, it will be able to accept Debian packages for the little-endian ARM architecture, which could lead to other software for the system as well and quite a bit of expansion. Being open-source, the possibilities are greatly expanded.

OpenPandora has already started taking pre-orders. Additional features of the Pandora include wireless 802.11b/g capabilities, Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR, a rechargeable battery, two Secure Digital High Capacity ports and more.

The open-source handheld console market is surprisingly large with two competing products. At any rate, one can only hope that this competition will encourage further developments in the industry and keep this little niche going.

On November 17, 2008, Intel will release its new brand of processors dubbed "Core i7."

Core i7 will be the first wave of Intel's new Nehalem architecture chips to be produced. The initial line of processors, codenamed Bloomfield, includes three quad-core desktop chips. The 920 model at 2.66 GHz is priced at $284 while the 940 model at 2.93 GHz is priced at $562, both in price per 1000 units. The 965 extreme edition, on the other hand, is clocked at 3.2 GHz but costs $999. The extreme edition comes with an unlocked multiplier, which makes it easier for enthusiasts to overclock.

But there is more to Core i7 than just clock speeds. Intel has changed much with their new Nahelem architecture, and it's all for the better. The memory controller is now on the processor. The traditional Front Side Bus that Intel has been using for years while AMD used HyperTransport technology has been replaced with Intel's new Quickpath Interconntect (QPI). Memory is now three-channel, so groups of three memory DIMMs can now be used for optimal performance. The processors have a "Turbo Boost" capability which automatically overclocks the processor by 133 or 266 MHz when safe to give you an extra boost of power when you need it. Intel has also added hyper-threading to their new Core i7 chips, a feature which was dropped in Intel's Core 2 architecture. This allows each core to appear to the operating system as two processors. They use the new 45nm technology and contain 731 million transistors. To top it all off, they have a new power management system that can actually shut down cores that are not in use to save a good deal of power. With the current economic troubles, this will no doubt be welcomed by many.

There are some problems with Core i7, but they are generally non-issues. The new architecture means that only DDR3 memory is compatible - and it is more expensive. There has also been some debate over the fact that nore current motherboards made for the Core i7 support ECC memory. It is thought that this could cause scientific computing and number crunching done by the processors to be inaccurate with these motherboards. It will be interesting to see if distributed computing projects such as Folding@home will have to do something different in the case of machines with these motherboards.

Everything considered, Core i7 truly is a leap ahead. The performance of this chips generally exceeds that of Yorkfield Core 2 processors of the same clock speed by some margin. It is estimated that Core i7 chips can complete 20% more instructions per clock cycle than the Yorkfield chips as well.

Even if you aren't looking at a Core i7 machine, the release of these processors is bound to bring the prices down on older Core 2 chips for desktops, which is always a plus.

With Core 2, Intel had the lead over AMD (Advanced Micro Devices). With Core i7, it seems as if Intel will leave AMD in the dust. Intel has learned their lesson from remaining static and letting AMD gain superior performance with their Athlon 64 line of processors - they aren't going to sit idle again or just concentrate on making their chips look good because they have high clock speeds (see megahertz myth). I do think, however, that AMD could rival Intel if they take the right steps. They certainly aren't going to sit still, but more on that later.

There have been a lot of people hoping for an Apple Tablet PC, like those that have been released by other companies.

During the October 14 MacBook event, Kirk Hiner said "Oh, and the mythical iTablet? Apple has “experimented” on it, but feels it doesn’t yet make much sense."

Doesn't make sense?! Apple has always been popular among artists and designers. Can't Apple see that there is indeed an audience for such a computer? Companies like Wacom have touch-sensative tablets on the market for both desktops and laptops that are compatible with both Windows and OS X. But it would seem more intelligent of Apple just built it in. The entire "touchscreen" thing just seems like an extension of the direction Apple was taking with the iPhone anyways.

Perhaps Apple is right in that the interest in such a tablet isn't great. But what about making a personal version as well? Certainly the iPhone and iPod Touch have gotten great attention due to their intuitive touch-interfaces. A personal version, perhaps in "slate" form factor without a keyboard, could be easily marketed.

As a side note, I don't see why Apple shouldn't keep with their previous conventions and separate the Macbook Air into "Pro" and consumer models. The lower end could be a netbook targeted at the coffeehouse blogger. Imagine how slim Apple could make it with Intel's new Atom processors.