Category Archives: AI

Hints of Cortana on Windows

Cortana is already knocking on Win8 door!

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Our favourite MS tweeterer and Trekkie-extraordinaire Brandon LeBlanc posted this blog post today to inform that the power of Bing, the same that powers our lovely Cortana is now in Windows 8 common search feature or “Smart Search” as Microsoft likes to call it. Before you only search as always with keywords, now you can input search in Natural Language in the Windows 8 search box, and Bing has got your back to understand your intent and bring you relevant result. Continue reading

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Microsoft’s Future Vision 2013: Live, Work, Play

Microsoft is well known for its series of “future vision” videos that showcases how technology will advance in the future. Microsoft continues this legacy with a new “future vision” video this year. For the first time, however, the video is actually being narrated. All the other videos that were released in the past had no actual speech in them. So without further ado, here’s the video!

Microsoft’s Future Vision: Live, Work, Play

Published on 1 Mar 2013

http://aka.ms/envision – Technology could transform our life at work, on the go, and at home based on extensive research.  This is a snapshot of what the future will look like five to ten years from now.  In the years ahead, technology will amplify our senses; help us stay connected to the people we care about and transform the way we live, work and play.

Bring on the Classics – Pocket Tanks Now on Windows 8!

If you have never played Pocket Tanks, you have missed a classic. But do not worry, with the release of Pocket Tanks for Windows 8, by its official creators, you can join the crowd! What is Pocket Tanks? Pocket Tanks is basically a simple artillery game in which each of the two players take turns to pick a weapon, make a target, and fire. Player with the most points at the end of the game wins. It’s simple, but it’s addictive! Pocket Tanks was first released for the PC in 2001 as a spiritual successor of a much older game made for the Amiga, Scorched Tanks.

Because this was such an old game, it needed a lot of work to port to a modern platform, like Windows 8. That work started with the port to the iPad, which supported a much higher resolution than the game was originally designed for. Much of that work also contributed to the port to Windows 8. You can see a quick video of it, which will also give you a video demo of the game in action!

This game is written by Michael P. Welch who also wrote its predecessor of Scorched Tanks. Pocket Tanks has the look, feel, and sound of a classic. It is a true piece of art. Mr. Welch is the founder of the company Blitwise, who, in turn is the publisher of this game. Now, here’s the description from Blitwise and also Mr. Welch.

Notes from Blitwise and Michael Welch

Pocket Tanks is the fast-paced artillery game that is simple to learn, and fun to master. The perfect quick game for friends and family, you’ll find yourself hooked for hours of play! Bury your opponent in a mound of dirt, or assail him with a barrage of bullets. Visit the Weapon Shop before battle to arm yourself for the struggle, or try the Target Practice mode to learn all the weapons and the best tactics to win.

Experience the thrill of launching volley after volley of powerful and fun weapons across the battlefield, using very simple controls. Select your angle, power, and FIRE! There are many unique weapons including: Napalm, Firecrackers, Skippers, Cruisers, Tracers, Dirt Movers, and dozens more! This is the light-hearted game of heavy artillery for everyone.

Pocket Tanks has been loved by fans for over 10 years, who have downloaded the shareware version MILLIONS of times.  But now, for the first time on Windows, you can try the game in high definition!

“The Ultimate One-on-One Artillery Game”

by Michael P. Welch

- author of DX-Ball & Scorched Tanks

Download Pocket Tanks COMPLETELY FREE, and learn the ropes with 35 exciting weapons.

Upgrade in-game to Deluxe and receive:

- 70 brand new weapons (110 total)

- Jump Jets for moving your tank around

- Bouncy Dirt for creating reflective terrain

- Digger for tunneling your tank underground

- Support for weapon expansion packs, both paid and FREE!

———————————–

Note from the author:

My name is Michael P. Welch, and I have been writing artillery games since 1993. I created Pocket Tanks in 2001, and thanks to the many loyal fans, it is still in active development to this very day. Please join me in my quest to make Pocket Tanks a classic artillery game that stands the test of time. Thanks to all who have supported BlitWise over the years.

Here’s the list of features, as noted by the developer

  • Pocket Tanks is FREE, with 35 weapons at your disposal.
  • Purchase the Deluxe upgrade: More weapons, and access to weapon packs, free and paid.
  • Play against the computer, or against a friend.
  • Up to 275 weapons currently available.  More weapons are always in development.
  • A simple game of strategy and skill for the whole family.

Download it from here: Pocket Tanks

We are step closer to the Holodeck timeframe

Yesterday Microsoft demostrated the Avatar Kinect at CES 2011, a Kinect feature that lets your avatar mimmics your expression in the virtual world. It fully renders your personals, and emotional expressions in real time. Its an awesome demonstration, and you need to see it to believe it. Just search for Steve Ballmers keynote on CES 2011 on YouTube.

So, what does this tell me, Kinect can do more than we even have at this moment! The definition to track the movement of eyebrows is there, which means it can track your ten fingers, not just your arms. This opens up a lot of possibilities, and I am sure we are seeing just the begining of awesome things to come.

So the Holodeck is just a step away. Just place four Kinects in all four corners of the room, link them up and, if you can afford it, place beamers or monitors on all four walls. Then you need the power and magic of software which Microsoft is promising us in the future.
I have seen the future, and the future is Kinect!

Bing goes Boom with HTML5, and heads are rolling at Google

Well, we know it takes time for Microsoft to wake up, but boy when they wake up, they go Boooom! They are doing it with IE9 and Bing, and the competition are already feeling the heat, heads are already rolling at Googolplex.

IE9 is leveraging the full power of the PC, and now Bing is also. Set to be released next week, the new Bing is showing something we’ve never seen in a search machine before, the full power of HTML5, and boy it is beautiful! And they know this at Google, because news is just out the head of UI and Experience at Google has just been demoted to a lesser function. Indeed Google is feeling the competition from Bing, Facebook and the likes.

Did I say the new Bing with IE9 is beautiful and functional? Don’t take my word for it, just see it for yourselves below, the full power of Accelerated Graphics:

 

Bing goes Boom with HTML5

Read about the sacked Head of UI and Experience here

Rock My World, hail the Machine! An Argument in the Language War

Can’t help but laugh at all the arguments about which is the best programming language. We humans are really good at tearing at each other; we have shown this all through the ages. We are insatiable species, it is never good, its never enough. I think Microsoft should be given more credit than it is getting on the policy of moving VB along to the .NET future, while freeing C++ programmers from their cryptic, head breaking world. We’ve all come a long way from days of Assembler Language.

 

I simply think .NET brings the best in both worlds by bridging the divide. C++ people get the RAD of VB world, VB people get the system core they’ve been missing. So what, VB.NET code runs 10% less than C# code in real live apps, the average user wouldn’t even notice the difference. You all must agree, this is all about modernization. C++ is too close to machine language for a lot of people, with the advent of new and powerful pc (your pc of today is your Cray Mainframe of before) interpreted language does not suffer anymore like before. That is why we could now afford the IL.

 

All you need do is draw a line between the CPU and the human behind the console. The machine speaks 0s and 1s, the human speaks complex language, with complex inflexions. The human wants the CPU to do things for him, he has to tell the CPU how to do it. So we invented the Assembler language, but this was killing a lot of people, so we moved a level higher, so we invented C and later C++. Professional programmers were joyfully hacking away in C++. But then here comes the community of computer Enthusiasts who want to do more with their computers so, so we invented the almost human (layman) language VB. While both languages were not evolving, the hardware was rapidly evolving leaving the languages in the Stone Age.

 

Because of today’s high speed CPUs we can afford a platform the both Hobbyist and Professionals can both be happy in, so we invented the IL. Suddenly, the hobbyist found he can now do all the magic of the professional programmer, and the professional programmer discovered he can now have the creativity of the hobbyist world.

 

All in all, this situation is a very temporal one, guess who is going to come to the rescue of this grand argument? The Machine!

We are at the verge of technology breakthroughs that will dispense with the need to code in any language at all. The machine will now be able to do what it does best: Automate.

 

I am talking of Artificial Intelligence. A point in time when machine will be able to understand human being and react effectively. Machine will take over the mundane routine of programming, because it will program itself to a certain level. Therefore you don’t need C# neither VB anymore. You just sit behind your console and tell the machine what you want to do. Instead of typing

            Dim strName as String…

 

You’ll just say:

 

            Computer:

                        “Draw a form 8cm by 5cm”

                        “Add 10 Text boxes with labels”

                        “Add 4 Combo boxes with labels”

                        “Add 1 Datagridview control, named MyDatagridview1”

                        “Attach MyDatagridview1 to MyWebService1.Customers”

                        “etc, etc”

 

You can see Artificial Intelligence will change the way we work with computers. It already here with us, but not yet perfect; remember your OCR and Speech recognition. The Military and NASA now works with hardware that has a level of autonomy. These robots make decisions of their own.

When computers reach a level that they can program themselves, they won’t do it in C# and VB, they will do it in Bits. The human as the weakest link (bugs and all) will be eliminated. The machines will have application templates of all known situation faced by man, so like they do in Star Trek universe, all you need do is tell the computer what you want archived, not how to archive it; at least not at mundane level of forms and control design. This period in time is closer than most of you can imagine. You have already started using first generation of it: the .NET IL. So you see, no difference anymore between hardcore programmer and a hobbyist. You will only be limited by your imagination.

 

Talking of imagination, I know some of you will be wondering “What if we end up with the Matrix Universe instead of that of Star Trek?” I cannot tell you what AI will do to us in the future, but I can tell you, the most stupid of us today will be the most creative in AI’s timeframe.

 

Live long and prosper my friends.

McAkins