Robots Building Robots?!

This is scary yet very interesting in a certain way. Robotics advances as new technologies are introduced, and these advances make automation faster and more acurate. Now, for the first time, a robot could assemble itself using parts that float randomly in its environment. It could even correct itself when mistakes occur.

I have posted last week about the Law of Robotics. Let\’s hope that no crazy scientist will ever ignore these laws and start putting armaments to these self-assembling robots; otherwise, let\’s all prepair to be annihilated!

Source: MSNBC via [ Neowin ]

Btw, if you have cable TV, tune in to Ghost In The Shell, Stand Alone Complex: 2nd GIG in Animax. The Ghost In the Shell series inspired the making of the Matrix with all those robots used against humans in terrorism, very cool effects and interesting storyline. :)

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ID-DSL

\'IDPLDT launched ID-DSL on September 15 featuring very low overseas calling rates. ID-DSL stands for International Dialing for DSL.

When using their proprietary dialing software Voicepad, you pay only 8 cents a minute for all Small Biz plans, plan 3000 and plan 2500. You pay 12 cents a minute when using plan 1995 and plan 999.

Otherwise when you are using your telephone you pay 10 cents a minute for all Small Biz plans, plan 3000 and plan 2500. You pay 15 cents a minute when using plan 1995 and plan 999.

Here\’s the catch: there is a P50 monthly fee and lock-in period of 12 months. There\’s a promo (I don\’t know if it\’s already over) that gives you free two monthly fee.

You may want to subscribe to this service if:

  1. You don\’t know how to use Skype or any other VoIP softwares
  2. You don\’t like the flactuating quality of VoIP that may happen from time to time
  3. You want to use a phone instead of using headset with VoIP service
  4. You\’re a fan of PLDT services (you\’re a rarity!)

You will probably bail out of ID-DSL if:

  1. You discovered that Skype is cheaper
    You only pay only 2 US cents per minute for US calls, and there\’s no service fees.
  2. You prefer VoIP because you don\’t trust PLDT\’s bad reputation for customer support
  3. You don\’t like the lock-in period of one whole year
  4. You don\’t have a PLDT DSL subscription

Of course, this service is not for everyone. For more information, please visit the official PLDT DSL website.

Link: PLDT ID-DSL (note: 482.73 KB image)

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UK Broadband Advances to 24 Mbps

The 24 Mbps broadband service is worth Ł24 (US $42.84) per month, and here are the benefits:

  • Three (3) times faster than the closes competitor in the UK
  • Allows 1.3 Mbps upstream, about 5 five times quicker than any other service provider in the UK.

I really envy other countries for state of the art technologies… imagine, UK is alredy deploying 24-megabit per second connection. Australia had already offered the same services, whereas in the Philippines — we are not even half-way yet!

If you review the prices, $42.84 is not that much… it\’s about P2400 only. In contrast, PLDT\’s Small Biz DSL, Sr. which is 1.5 Mbps or T1, the fastest consumer / enterprise broadband connection offered by PLDT that I know, costs a grand total of P14,500 per month. o_O

Source: The Guardian [ via Slashdot ]

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Combat Robots

I\’ve just read the online edition of The Korea Times and there\’s one article about Seoul building front-line combat robots. I thought, \”This is insanity.\” Robots in battles along with human soldiers? It sounds so familiar. Wait… I think I\’ve seen this in movies. Uhm… I think I\’ve seen similar stuffs in Ghost in a Shell and other mecha animes… even Hollywood movies incorporate front-line combat robots! No? Nevermind. What\’s baffling about this news is that the concept may actually be deployed as soon as the research is finished.

On the other hand, has anyone watched Animatrix? It\’s one of my favorite DVD! I have just attended a seminar about robots and I really fear that robots my take over humanity in the future. That\’s why as far as possible I don\’t welcome too much A.I. in robotics. Otherwise if they get too intelligent they\’ll just enslave us (or perhaps I\’m just reading and watching too much sci-fi)!

Three Laws of Robotics were written by Isaac Asimov, a Russian-born American author and biochemist, who is best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books.

  1. A robot may not harm a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

If all these rules will be followed… then it would be fine. Hopefully.

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Ending Microsoft’s Cowboy Spaghetti Code

\'WindowsHaving studied Total Quality Management this quarter, I\’m aware that Microsoft is notorious for not implementing the processes that would produce the best quality output. Problems could be always patched over anyway. Microsoft\’s softwares, let alone Windows, are historically known to be vulnerable to plethora of bugs. So what gives? One remarkable person stirred several changes in Microsoft for good. His name is Jim Allchin, senior Microsoft Corp. executive.

In the past, Microsoft let thousands of software engineers create their own code. As the chief architect, what Bill Gates does is filter those programs that produce the least bugs to get into the base code of Windows. Engineers would stitch those chunks of codes to create the intended program afterwards; hence, inadvertently creating spaghetti codes. Programmers literally browse thousand lines of codes if a bug pops up, making bug hunting a nightmare.

Google, Apple, and other open-source companies impose threat to Microsoft\’s monopoly in software market. For instance, Google introduced its Gmail service out of the blue, competing with Microsoft\’s Hotmail service. Mozilla Foundation introduced Firefox with features that Microsoft planned for Longhorn, reducing Internet Explorer\’s popularity. There are many more companies that produce quality softwares and compete directly with Microsoft products. As these companies continue to grow, Microsoft had to continuously improve to catch up with the pace of development.

Jim Allchin proposed a change to the way Microsoft create codes. Microsoft should stop doing the same practice it had used in building old versions of Windows. The company must create software that would function like Lego blocks — having a single function and were designed to be connected onto a bigger piece. Microsoft had to be rebuilt from scratch in order to make it work. To make Allchin\’s plans successful he had to get Brian Valentine and Amitabh Srivastava for help. Before the team proceeded with the plan, they gathered different opinions about the challenge and most engineers were willing to change. It was a good sign.

The team of Mr. Srivastava automated the testing that had used to be done by manually. If a feature had too many bugs, it would be rejected. If engineers had earned too many bug counts in his codes, they are put to \”bug jail\” and banned from writing new code. After all, the goal was to get engineers to do it right the first time.

Mr. Valentine is the enforcer of the challenge. Sometimes engineers would resist the new methods of coding. He said to one coder, \”Is your code perfect? Are you perfect? If not, you should shut up and support this effort.\” In any case, good coding practice needs enforcement.

Windows Vista beta 1 (codename: Longhorn) was announced on June but it was rescheduled on July to make Longhorn more like Lego blocks. From experience, the programmers expected tens of thousands of bug reports from Windows Vista beta 1 but they got a couple thousand bug reports only. It was a sign of improvement.

Provided that the new processes would be followed religiously by all Microsoft software engineers, Windows Vista should be able to exhibit a leap of improved level of quality.

Based on: The Wall Street Journal

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WiMax Trial

\'WiMaxWiMax is coming to town.

Inter Corp., announced on Thursday that it expected to implement trials of wireless broadband technology WiMax in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines by year-end.

WiMAX stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access,which is IEEE 802.16 standards. It would enable high-speed Internet connectivity for homes and businesses in a radius of up to 50 km. To paint a clearer picture of it, if the WiMax transmitter is installed in Makati even the people in downtown San Pedro, Laguna could utilize the WiMax service. :)

Source:
Reuters
How WiMax works

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