Posts tagged Microsoft
After making his fair share of cash from starting one of the world biggest technology companies, Bill Gates has moved on to something more: saving the world. No, not in the cliche cape-and-spandex type of way, but more of a billionaire philanthropist type of way. He has already given billions and billions to charity, donating an astounding total of 95% of his life’s earnings and fortune to good causes. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is “Dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals around the world. From the education of students in Chicago, to the health of a young mother in Nigeria, we are catalysts of human promise everywhere.” as it says on their website. There are so many things that Gates’ fortune along with a whole lot of goodwill can do and already has done, but the reason I’m writing this is because of Bill Gates’ most recent endeavor: turning poo into water.
No, I’m not kidding. Teaming up with a couple of pretty brilliant engineers, one of them being the Janicki Bioenergy CEO, Peter Janicki, Gates has tested the Janicki Omniprocessor, a machine that takes waste and sewer sludge, as Gates calls it, and out of that makes energy, water, and pathogen-free ash. Again, not kidding. Their goal, of course, is to create a machine that, when used in growing and third-world countries, is not only profitable to the entrepreneur that owns the machine, but also that can help the community. In the end, the person running the unit will get paid for not only the water and electricity, but also the ash and sewer sludge. This very well may be a big step up in global higher standards of living, bringing electricity and clean water to developing countries, as currently, it’s pretty hard to lift a country or area out of poverty and poorer standards of living.
This is how the machine works. A conveyor belt brings the sludge into the machine (which the entrepreneur is getting paid for) and dumps it into a large high temp tube, which boils the sludge. The tube is so hot (1,832 Fahrenheit), in fact, that the sludge burning doesn’t even smell, unlike pretty much every other alternative for disposing of that kind of waste. This process removes all the water vapor from the sludge, and the vapor then gets shoved through a high-quality filtration system, which then creates high-quality water. If you don’t fancy drinking something that was poop only a few minutes ago, just watch Bill Gates do it in the video above and maybe you’ll change your view.
Once the sludge is now completely water free, it gets thrown into a large furnace, that heats it up to so much that really hot steam rises out of it, going straight into a custom steam engine, which drives a generator, creating: you guessed it, electricity. This electricity gets put back into the system to help power it, but it also can be sent out into the community, for the benefit of everyone. The entrepreneur again gets compensated for the output, adding one more source of income for the hard-working Janicki Omniprocessor manager. And finally, the entrepreneur gets paid for the ash too, because hey, why not. (Actually, they just haven’t said why they compensate for the ash, maybe just to add a little more incentive, but they did make it clear that they do pay for the ash)
The Janicki Omniprocessor isn’t yet ready to be used in developing countries, and there are sure to be some kinks to work out, but they are preparing for a field test in Senegal to see how well the community interacts and works with the machine. But in general, the machine is a remarkable piece of engineering, and certainly has a great potential to help the sanitation of the rising populations in growing nations all over the world.
For the first time, one of the tech giants of the world, Microsoft, is actually getting into the gaming business instead of letting third party companies get all the money and fame. At first, Microsoft tried (and did) to make a game creation software of kids to urge them into the business. It was relatively successful, and Microsoft even put on a US Kodu Cup, a competition for kids to submit their Kodu games. But, the software had a blocky feel and not the best user interface. Even though Microsoft ended up not following up on Kodu, they did continue in the game creation business, eventually coming up the idea for a game called Project Spark.
Project Spark is also a game creation software, except a million times better than Kodu. Spark is also not only for kids. It’s smooth and intuitive way of quickly allowing you to create an amazing game that otherwise would need a lot of coding and graphics experience. Which brings up another virtue of Spark, it’s graphics. Microsoft must have spent a lot of time perfecting Spark’s graphics engine, since it is so complex, as you will see. Here are some of the main features of Spark that I will go over: (remember, it is still in the Beta/Alpha stage, so it has a ways to go before it will be released)
The terrain tools in Spark are a very important feature, making up almost all of what separates Spark from the other game creating softwares. The tools are pretty simple; there is the cylinder tool, the roughen tool, the hill tool, the tunnel tooland much more. All these tools are design so that you can bend and shape the starting blank terrain the you get at the very beginning of you game. There is just your avatar and this flat, greyish land. Those tools I mentioned plus many more are a easy and new way to create the landscape of your game. You can make paths, rivers, cliffs, hills, canyons, and anything else you can imagine.
The paint tools in Spark are also as inventive and easy to use as the landscape tools. There are a couple options (more will probably be added) in which you can change you blank starter-terrain into a fully fledged game terrain. The paint tools are pretty simple. You just size up and down the area you want to change, and start painting. The great thing about Spark’s tools are that they adapt to you game. If you want your cliff to be a desert cliff, the only the flat parts of the cliff will be painted with the classic desert paint. The rest of the cliff would be painted in a sandstone cliffy feel like it would actually be in the real world. This goes with all of the paints, giving your game a great, real feel.
The brain function of Spark is pretty much the heart and soul of the game. Without it, it would just be a game where you can create your own terrain. With the brain, you have complete control over every little detail, every prop, every character. Basically, the brain is made of basic game programming, very similar to the kind of programming you would see in other anti-programming softwares. The classic When/Do code. You can add something in the When section, such as “detects player”. Each word you add in is easily selected out of many different options that Spark automatically loaded in. Microsoft has been using the “pet rock” example in their demonstrations, which is a very easy brain command. They added the “detects player” line into a rock’s mind, which was previously empty, and then added “follow player” into the Do section. This can be easily set up, changed, scaled, painted, and added to so that your game is completely yours. There is a brain gallery, just like the terrain gallery or the prop gallery, for less experienced players to have a starting point.
Props are an easy way to add very important elements to your game. There is a huge prop gallery in Spark, covering everything from weapons to effects like sparkles or fire balls. Each prop has a brain, and you can easily go in and change it. Some of the most used props are houses, weapons, coins and more. You can easily add an objective to your game using props, such as getting the coin or finding the end spot. Another great feature of props are that you can mush them together with the ground and other props. If you only want the top half of the prop showing, you can just move it so that the other part is underground. You can also glue props together, in such a way to give the impression of a whole new prop. You can even add props such as rocks and house part on your avatar to give your self armor. It really just depends on what you want to do.
There is so much more amazing tools, props, effects, and brain function to Spark, and even more that they haven’t released yet. The Spark team has done a brilliant job making the perfect “create your own game” game. What’s even more amazing about Spark is the level of detail you can go into and how easily you can just start playing and start testing your game. The game has already generated a ton of excitement, and even more is sure to come when it is released. Unfortunately, they have not given a release date, but if you want to get early Beta access, you can go to Spark’s website and apply. Spark can also be played on the Surface and the Xbox 360 and One.
Finally! After the release of the PS4, we were all waiting for the release of the next generation of the XBOX 360. Yesterday, Microsoft did just that. There was a lot of speculation of what it would be called, what it’s features would be and what it would look like. What it turns out to be is the multi-functional XBOX One.
There are many new and updated things about the XBOX One. One thing is the voice control. Yes, everything is going to be hands-free very soon. For the XBOX One, your voice is your remote. You can even boot up your system by saying “XBOX, on”. Or you can open apps using your voice. For example, you can open fantasy basketball or football by saying “XBOX, show fantasy”. Microsoft is
doing everything to make the XBOX One the easiest console to use on the market.
Even though the voice search is very cool, remember, this is Microsoft. Some things will be a bit weird. For instance, the XBOX One comes with a new Kinect. That’s not what weird, though. When the XBOX is running, the Kinect HAS to be plugged in, or it won’t work. Also, the Kinect is ALWAYS ON. Watching your every move. That is how you can say “XBOX, on” to turn it on. Still, it is a good thing. The Kinect has been enhanced since the XBOX 360, and it can recognize head features, individual skeletons, hand movments and more.
The XBOX one is not only a video game console. It is also a TV. Microsoft are even launching a series based on the game Halo. While you are watching TV, you can open apps like Skype or Fantasy Baseball and efficiently multitask. But if you aren’t happy with what Microsoft can give you, you can also hook up your own TV and still use the voice controls. Now you don’t have to slouch around ONLY playing video games, you can slouch around while watching TV too!!!!
There are many video game consoles; Wii, WiiU, Playstation 3 (PS4 coming out), Ouya, PC games and Nintendo DS. Microsoft is trying to get the edge by (1) making their console newest and most futuristic design and technology and (2) making to easy and seamless to use. They may have gone overboard, but it will probably end up being like most console: fine. What really matters is the games. Speaking of games, Call Of Duty will have a dog in it. What? It seemed important.
Recently, Microsoft Corp. has been fined $730 million dollars by the EU for not fulfilling a pact they made in 2009.
The pact stated that their browsers would have a drop-down bar that users could adjust to change search engines from Internet Explorer, to say, Google. But, in a Windows 7 service pack software update, they failed to provide the needed bar.
Microsoft is the first company ever to break a pledge to the EU, failing to complete the pact in 2012. Though they never completely admitted guilt, saying it was an accident. But, when you think about it, how likely is it to completely forget a pact you made with the EU, and then have 15 million people install it without noticing? Still, even if it was a mistake, Microsoft broke their pledge and most likely did deserve to get fined.