Mobile optimised search engine from Handycase appears

Here’s a new search engine with a bit of a difference aimed at the mobile phone fraternity from Handycase. Gune – which apparently means ‘site’ in Basque – currently scrapes from Google and Bing and outputs the results in a handset friendly fashion.

Previous efforts at creating a spiffing mobile search engine have mainly concentrated on only searching sites which are ‘mobile friendly’. With Gune the intention is to provide output which makes sense on a typical handset’s screen, whatever the original source.

Here’s a quote from Handycase’s head honcho, Ricardo Garay. “Gune is designed so that everyone can contribute to the directory – so anyone who has, or knows a mobile website, just visits our PC website and gives us their tip. Once checked and approved it goes onto the directory.”

In essence, the idea is to include sites which are purpose built for smartphones and the like but still display all the information you’d expect if you performed the search on a regular Google or Bing page instead of on a mobile phone.

Now we get to the tricky bit. The best way to promote Gune searching would be to install a Gune app onto your mobile phone. And in theory Handycase has done this.

If you visit the Gune launcher download page here,  there are loads of options.

The list includes straight Java; Blackberry Java; Palm OS and Web Runtime. Techeye wasn’t sure exactly which Nokia handsets actually run Web runtime but Handycase’s PC site posts a very useful link to a list of runtime handsets on the Nokia web site itself here.

That lists says that our trusty Nokia N95 should run the Web Runtime version of the Gune launcher. But it didn’t.

Never mind, we thought,  let’s try the standard Java version on both a Nokia N95 and a Nokia E66. Well, the app seemed to download OK but it just wouldn’t run. Something to do with a missing ‘Gune.jad’ file, perhaps?

Despite extensive efforts at debugging, Techeye still hadn’t got the Gune launcher app going.

This almost certainly has something to do with the fact that Handycase is actually a Brazilian software house that specialises in Palm OS apps and, more recently, Android apps. Nokia, obviously, isn’t its forte.

Still, going directly to the Gune search engine from your handset’s browser gets around these problems. Plus, Handycase is rather naturally promising that there will be Portuguese and Spanish versions of this app. Will there be a Basque version, too, one wonders?

Cheap stress test picks up coronary artery disease

A simple test can indicate whether people have significant coronary artery disease (S-CAD), researchers at the Washington Hospital Center have discovered.

To test cardiac respiratory stress response (RSR), the researchers use a Pulse Oximeter (PPG) to measure blood flow in a finger matched to paced breathing over a 90 second period. The PPG data are captured and analyzed using a proprietary algorithm.

The results found that patients with S-CAD had a much lower RSR compared to patients without – 6.7 percent versus 17.4 percent respectively.

The researchers tested their findings using Quantitive Coronary Angiography (QCA). The rest results are claimed to be highly accurate, with a sensitivity and specificity of 86 percent and 81 percent.

Ron Waksman, MD of the Division of Cardiology at Washington Hospital Center, said it’s difficult to detect significant coronary artery disease in patients at the doctors. Detection often involved a physical stress test, nuclear imaging and cardiac catheterisation.

He said: “The RSR test is simple and fast to perform in a doctor’s office without the need for significant expense and hardship to the patients, and results of the study support its accuracy to detect significant coronary artery disease.”

The test isn’t yet available in the US but is being used in over 25 cardiology clinics in the States.

LG launches its first Android-based handset

LG has launched its first Android-based handset, the snappily titled LG InTouch Max GW620.

LG also has a mission with this phone: it aims to bring ‘apps to the masses’, with over 20,000 applications available via the Android Market. Which will no doubt completely fail to frighten a certain fruit-based gadget maker that, according to industry analyst Gartner, owns 99.4 per cent of the mobile app market.

LG's Mission phone

But the LG InTouch Max GW620 does have a full QWERTY hardware keypad, which might make it look a little antiquated when compared to the sleek touchscreens of recent releases Google Nexus One and the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. But the LG does have a three-inch touchscreen as well.

The handset has also got a five-megapixel camera and has something called Auto Face-tagging. This means that once you have taken a picture of your friend the handset’ll recognise them and you’ll be able to text or access a social network site of theirs by poking their face. Strange but true.

Overall it’s not a bad looking phone with curved edges and a silver and grey finish. Plus it is available on T-Mobile for free, on a two year contract with unlimited data at £20 a month, which is great if you like it enough to have it for two years.

Americans go on crusade with magic weapons

American soldiers are fighting non-Christian forces with magical weapons especially blessed with bible verses.

Nope, it is not a return to the Middle Ages or a Dungeons and Dragons game. ABC has been reporting that codes installed in the laser sites of American weapons of lesser destruction actually represent Bible verses.

The addition of the numbers to high-powered laser sights makes sure that the the weapon is being directed towards Muslims buy the power of “god’s word”. It is a medieval magical technique which has not been seen since the Crusades, when soldiers used to carve appropriate bible verses onto weapons to bash the Muslims with.

The news is being played down by the Pentagon, which is desperate to make it clear that the war was not a crusade by a madman who thought that he was bringing about the Second Coming of Jesus by sending America’s finest to kill Muslims. They would prefer it was all about oil we guess.

The sights, made by  Trijicon,  are used by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. One verse is Second Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” It is supposed to help night vision we guess.

Other verses include John 8:12, which reads, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” and the firepower to kill a stampeding elephant.

Trijicon confirmed to that it adds the biblical codes to the sights sold to the US military. Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing for Trijicon, which is based in Michigan, said the inscriptions “have always been there”.

Apparently they were the brainchild of former CEO Glyn Bindon, a devout Christian from South Africa who felt that what Jesus really meant when he talked about turning the other cheek was the ability to cut a heathen in two with infra-red death from a force unseen.

We are not sure which force in the universe disagreed with him, because Bindon was rustled out of this world in a 2003 plane crash.

Surprisingly, not every one is happy with carrying magical weapons charged with magical verses from the Christian bible. Some of the US military are not clean-living bible-thumping loonies who believe it is their job to convert the world through the barrel of a gun.

Muson said that the only people who were complaining about the bible verses were a “group of people who were not christians”, so we guess he does not think they count.


Apple rumoured to launch eBook with HarperCollins

The Apple Tablet, dubbed the iSlate, hasn’t even been launched yet, but already rumours of a deal between the fruit-themed gadget maker and publisher HarperCollins are being reported in The Wall Street Journal.

The paper claims that the deal to bring the News Corp owned HarperCollins book back catalogue to the tablet will seriously threaten Amazon’s Kindle and other smaller eReader makers.

The publisher and Job’s mob are said to already talking pricing and distribution. With Murdoch’s HarperCollins said to be setting the price while Apple gets a share of sales. The books would presumably be sold through Itunes.

Apple has confirmed that it will be revealing something on January 27th, and the smart money is on a multimedia tablet to be shipped in March.

China orders foreign firms to obey their laws

A representative for the Chinese foreign ministry said that foreign firms trading in the country have to obey its laws, in a rebuff to Google and others.

China disapproves of hacking, the representative told reporters at a regular press briefing, and had itself been hacked. Google  has to respect the local customs and traditions.

While the Indian government claims its systems had been hacked by China, the representative denied that too.

This might all come as rather a surprise to the government of the United States – several reports have emerged in the last few months alleging that the Chinese government was behind a number of cyberattacks on both military and commercial targets.

It’s quite hard finding out what Chinese “laws” are, anyway. Amnesty International tracks the death penalty in China. According to its site, in 2009, “the criminal justice system remained highly vulnerable to political interfence. The courts, the prosecuting organ and the police remained under the supervision of the Chinese Communist Party.”

China, according to Amnesty, uses broad provisions of the criminal law concerning state security to silence dissent. A miniumum of 7,000 death sentences were delivered in 2009.

UK government wastes £26.3 billion on computer botch up

The UK Government has wasted more than £26.3 billion of taxpayers’ cash on computer projects systems that were delayed, over budget, or canned.

According to the Independent, the top 10 notorious IT failures account for the  equivalent of over half of the budget for Britain’s schools. 

Parliament’s spending watchdog has slammed the projects as “fundamentally flawed” and pointed the finger at ministers for “stupendous incompetence” in managing them.

The top waste of cash was Labour’s £12.7 billion IT scheme to revolutionise the NHS. Only 160 health organisations out of about 9,000 are using electronic patient records delivered under the scheme.

Few of these are hospitals and most are small GP practices. Apparently the few get any benefit from the project have been lawyers who have been paid £39.2 million for “legal and commercial support” for the National Programme for IT.

Alan Milburn, the former health secretary, said in 2001 that everyone would have access to their health records online by 2005, but it is understood that the Department for Health is still “years away” from doing that despite all the wasted cash.

Alistair Darling: UK gov picThere have been all sorts of other daft projects. One project that was meant to save the Department for Transport (DfT) about £57 million eventually cost £81 million. Another project at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) was given a completed project that only used German.

In 2004, the Department for Justice gave the go-ahead for the National Offender Management Information System (C-Nomis) which was supposed to make sharing information about crims easier. The plug was pulled on the project when it was estimated that it would cost more than £600 million. More than £155 million was wasted before the project was shut down.

Deep throats inside the government claim that ministers are too easily wooed by smooth talking suppliers with large drinks budgets. Apparently some ministers actually believe what sales people tell them.

More projects are now under renewed threat of being cut back or abandoned altogether as Alistair Darling, the Chancellor tries to tackle Britain’s record £175bn deficit.

Here is the Indi’s list of botched projects

  • £12.7 billion National Programme for IT (NHS)
  • £7.1 billion Defence Information Infrastructure (DII)
  • £5 billionNational Identity Scheme
  • £400 millionLibra system (for magistrates’ courts)
  • £350 million Single Payment Scheme system (SPS)
  • £300 million GCHQ “box move” of technology
  • £155 million National Offender Management Information System (C-Nomis)
  • £106 million Benefit Processing Replacement Programme
  • £88.5 million Prism IT project
  • £81 million Shared Services Centre
  • Total: £26.3 billion

ReactOS getting a rewrite

The Open Saucy ReactOS, which was designed as a free and open-source operating system, binary-compatible with Microsoft Windows is about to get rewritten.

The project has been on the books for 11 years but never went anywhere because developers were not that interested.

One of the biggest problems was that reimplementing the Win32 subsystem proved too hard.

Now developer Aleksey Bragin has decided to rewrite ReactOS from scratch and take advantage of another more popular project, Vine. Writing on the ReactOS mailing list, he said that the demand for an open source Windows-compatible operating system is huge.

But ReactOS usability was pants and the OS never even entered the beta stage.

Some Windows  binary drivers could be loaded and work in ReactOS, networking is  
being improved and the kernel is being actively worked on too.
But all of that does not really matter for the end user. For a user  it’s important that a web-browser loads websites, instant messenger  client connects and works and Microsoft Office shows documents, and the email client gets new messages,  Bragin said.

He said: “The Win32 subsystem is a huge monster which  requires a lot more human resources than we have now. It’s very hard   and time consuming to reach even Windows 2000 level of compatibility  with current amount of participating developers, and high entry level.”

Bragin thinks that the way forward is Arwinss which is a new file system made out of Vine and ReactOS.  He knocked it up in a few months and thinks if everyone worked on it then ReactOS could really get off the ground.

Mouse is alive and well

Kiwi boffins seem to think that the computer mouse will be with us for many years yet.

Despite the development of technology such as touch screens and waving vaguely at the computer screen, Professor Andy Cockburn, from New Zealand’s University of Canterbury, claims the mouse has its paws firmly on the wheel of technological development.

Cockburn says the keyboard and mouse is not going anywhere soon.  He said that it is an extremely efficient way of getting information into a machine and it’s almost cognition-free, which is its biggest benefit.

It is hard to beat a mouse in terms of high fidelity precision of interaction, he said.

New technology being developed by companies such as Nintendo and Microsoft’s Project Natal will not immediately translate well into everyday work and home life.

Your average office worker wants optimum levels of efficiency.  They don’t wish to spend their lives waving their hands in the air to open their Facebook accounts.  That would be far too stressful,  Cockburn said.

People want better ways to scroll through documents, navigate between windows or programs, and shave “milliseconds or seconds off activities you do each day”.  But you don’t need new interfaces to do this, he said.

This involves taking computer science and combining it with psychology and sociology, to make life better.

Apple to go touchy feely

While the tame Apple press are churning out rumours and speculation about Jobs’ Mob releasing a 10-inch iSlate PDA in a couple of weeks, apparently there is another bit of kit that is also a candidate for release.

Chinese newspaper, The Commercial Times, suggests Apple has a brand new 22-inch variant of its popular iMac computer which it wants to release to the world.

The report suggests the new kit, which is only a half inch bigger than the current 21.5-inch iMac will be completely different thanks to touchscreen functionality. The panel will be supplied by Taiwan-based Sintek Photronic.

Steve JobsThe Commercial Times has predicted things sort of correctly in the past.  It commented that Apple was building a netbook that would feature a touchscreen display which could have been the iSlate.  But given that Steve Jobs would rather gouge out his own iLiver rather than sell anything as accessible as a netbook this one was unlikely.

Apple is scheduled to host a special invitation-only media event on January 27, at which many believe the toymaker will officially unveil its iSlate tablet device.  Perhaps it will also announce a revised version of its iMac which will allow you to cover the screen with greasy fingerprints too.