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 November 18 2016

Weekly Recap: Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation, Apple book, Nokia watch, robotic balloon and supersonic airliner

2016, the year when everything became possible

Microsoft Connect(); 2016.

[Picture: 16th November 2016, Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin, Microsoft Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie and GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath, at Microsoft Connect(); 2016. Photo Microsoft.]

In a development that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago (just like Donald T.’s election), and signalling an end to corporate arrogance under Satya Nadella, Microsoft announced that it joined the Linux Foundation. This, after the colorful Steve Ballmer stated, in 2001, that Linux was a cancer. It seems that the Redmond giant has found a way to make money from cancer. John Gossman, of the Microsoft Azure team, will take a seat on the Board of Directors of the Foundation, and Microsoft will pay US$500,000 in yearly dues as a platinum member. — As Virgil said 2000 years ago, Equo ne credite, Teucri. Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. Or, in plain English, “Do not trust the horse, Trojans! Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks, even when bringing gifts”.

Also in the news, Google has joined the .NET foundation.

Ars Technica, “Microsoft—yes, Microsoft—joins the Linux Foundation.”

Linux Foundation, “Microsoft Fortifies Commitment to Open Source, Becomes Linux Foundation Platinum Member.”


Apple releases a… book!

Apple Book.

Designed by Apple in California chronicles 20 years of Apple designs in 450 photographs by Andrew Zuckerman. The book features some 93 products over 300 pages. And when Apple produces a book, it goes all out: custom-milled German paper, octachrome (8-color) printing, silver edges and white linen, cold-embossed cover. The book starts with the first iMac and ends with the Apple Pencil. It comes with a pull-out booklet featuring a preface, short descriptions of the products and a glossary. Jonathan Ive explains that the company being weak on corporate memory, it had to buy back some of its own products in order to photograph them. The book, which is available in two sizes, 10.20"x12.75" (US$200) and 13"x16.25" (US$300), is being sold in a limited number of countries: Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, United Kingdom and United States. It would seem that Apple believes that Canadians would not be interested.

The Verge, “Apple releases $300 book containing 450 photos of Apple products.”

Mashable, “Wow, Apple didn’t have an archive of its own products.”

Apple, “Designed by Apple in California.”


Nokia-Lumia Watch

Three years ago, Nokia was preparing to launch a smartwatch code-named Moonraker. Functioning prototypes had been shown to privileged insiders at the Barcelona Mobile World Congress in February 2014. The watch was to be launched in April of that year, together with the Nokia 930 (Lumia 930) phone. Having recently acquired Nokia, Microsoft quashed its release, presumably out of concern that the Nokia-developed product would compete with a Microsoft product, the Band. Some shots of the watch had already been leaked in June 2015, but today, an entire video of the watch in action surfaced on the Web. From the looks of it, it’s a pity that “Moonraker” was never released. The video shows it recharging through a magnetic connection similar to Apple’s MagSafe.

The Verge, “Nokia’s canceled smartwatch appears in leaked video.”


The robotic balloon

Two-legged walking is a particularly difficult mode of locomotion to master for robots. A robotics laboratory at UCLA is developing a bipedal robot made up of helium balloons and two thin, insect-like legs. Though it walks on two legs, it can’t fall; on the other hand, it is vulnerable to wind. We don’t really see many applications for this robot for the moment, but the video is fun and rife with cheeky comparisons. Worth a watch.

Popular Science, “Balloon-bodied bipedal bot bounces beautifully.”


Supersonic Passenger Airliner

Boom XB-1.

Boom XB-1.

Boom XB-1.

Boom XB-1.

Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group has joined forces with Boom —an aircraft production startup— to unveil the XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator, a one-third scale prototype supersonic passenger airliner. With hardware from General Electric (engines), Honeywell (avionics), Tencate (carbon fibre), and composite structures fabricated by Blue Force, the XB-1 will be the world’s fastest civil aircraft ever made (cruising speed MACH 2.2, 2,715 km/h). It features three major aerodynamic advances from Concorde (cruising speed MACH 2.02, 2,180 km/h): an area-ruled fuselage, a chine, and a refined delta wing. The first Demonstrator flight is set to take place in late 2017. The final aircraft will reportedly provide 3.5-hour flights between New York and London for the “affordable” price of $5,000. It will provide its 45 to 55 passengers with spacious seating on each side of the aircraft’s aisle, along with a personal window and overhead bin.

Popular Mechanics, “This slick jet could repave the way for commercial supersonic flight.”

Mashable, “Richard Branson is bringing us the next supersonic passenger aircraft.”

Boom, “XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator.”


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