Why Technical English

The Semantic Web – great expectations

October 31, 2011
3 Comments

By Galina Vitkova

The Semantic Web brings the further development of the World Wide Web aimed at interpreting the content of the web pages as machine-readable information.

In the classical Web based on HTML web pages the information is comprised in the text or documents which are read and composed into visible or audible for humans web pages by a browser. The Semantic Web is supposed to store information as a semantic network through the use of ontologies. The semantic network is usually a directed or undirected graph consisting of vertices, which represent concepts, and edges, which represent relations among the concepts.  An ontology is simply a vocabulary that describes objects and how they relate to one another. So a program-agent is able to mine facts immediately from the Semantic Web and draw logical conclusions based on them. The Semantic Web functions together with the existing Web and uses the protocol HTTP and resource identificators URIs.

The term  Semantic Web was coined by sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in May 2001 in the journal «Scientific American». Tim Berners-Lee considers the Semantic Web the next step in the developing of the World Wide Web. W3C has adopted and promoted this concept.

Main idea

The Semantic Web is simply a hyper-structure above the existing Web. It extends the network of hyperlinked human-readable web pages by inserting machine-readable metadata about pages and how they are related to each other. It is proposed to help computers “read” and use the Web in a more sophisticated way. Metadata can allow more complex, focused Web searches with more accurate results. To paraphrase Tim Berners-Lee the extension will let the Web – currently similar to a giant book – become a giant database. Machine processing of the information in the Semantic Web is enabled by two the most important features of it.

  • First – The all-around application of uniform resource identifiers (URIs), which are known as addresses. Traditionally in the Internet these identifiers are used for pointing hyperlinks to an addressed object (web pages, or e-mail addresses, etc.). In the Semantic Web the URIs are used also for specifying resources, i.e. URI identifies exactly an object. Moreover, in the Semantic Web not only web pages or their parts have URI, but objects of the real world may have URI too (e.g. humans, towns, novel titles, etc.). Furthermore, the abstract resource attribute (e.g. name, position, colour) have their own URI. As the URIs are globally unique they enable to identify the same objects in different places in the Web. Concurrently, URIs of the HTTP protocol (i.e. addresses beginning with http://) can be used as addresses of documents that contain a machine-readable description of these objects.

  • Second – Application of semantic networks and ontologies. Present-day methods of automatic processing information in the Internet are as a rule based on the frequency and lexical analysis or parsing of the text, so it is designated for human perception. In the Semantic Web instead of that the RDF (Resource Description Framework) standard is applied, which uses semantic networks (i.e. graphs, whose vertices and edges have URIs) for representing the information. Statements coded by means of RDF can be further interpreted by ontologies created in compliance with the standards of RDF Schema and OWL (Web Ontology Language) in order to draw logical conclusions. Ontologies are built using so called description logics. Ontologies and schemata help a computer to understand human vocabulary.

 

Semantic Web Technologies

The architecture of the Semantic Web can be represented by the Semantic Web Stack also known as Semantic Web Cake or Semantic Web Layer Cake. The Semantic Web Stack is an illustration of the hierarchy of languages, where each layer exploits and uses capabilities of the layers below. It shows how technologies, which are standardized for the Semantic Web, are organized to make the Semantic Web possible. It also shows how Semantic Web is an extension (not replacement) of the classical hypertext Web. The illustration was created by Tim Berners-Lee. The stack is still evolving as the layers are concretized.

Semantic Web Stack

As shown in the Semantic Web Stack, the following languages or technologies are used to create the Semantic Web. The technologies from the bottom of the stack up to OWL (Web Ontology Langure) are currently standardized and accepted to build Semantic Web applications. It is still not clear how the top of the stack is going to be implemented. All layers of the stack need to be implemented to achieve full visions of the Semantic Web.

  • XML (eXtensible Markup Language) is a set of rules for encoding documents in machine-readable form. It is a markup language like HTML. XML complements (but does not replace) HTML by adding tags that describe data.
  • XML Schema published as a W3C recommendation in May 2001 is one of several XML schema languages. It can be used to express a set of rules to which an XML document must conform in order to be considered ‘valid’.
  • RDF (Resource Description Framework) is a family of W3C specifications originally designed as a metadata data model. It has come to be used as a general method for conceptual description of information that is implemented in web resources. RDF does exactly what its name indicates: using XML tags, it provides a framework to describe resources. In RDF terms, everything in the world is a resource. This framework pairs the resource with a specific location in the Web, so the computer knows exactly what the resource is. To do this, RDF uses triples written as XML tags to express this information as a graph. These triples consist of a subject, property and object, which are like the subject, verb and direct object of an English sentence.
  • RDFS (Vocabulary Description Language Schema) provides basic vocabulary for RDF, adds classes, subclasses and properties to resources, creating a basic language framework
  • OWL (Web Ontology Language) is a family of knowledge representation languages for creating ontologies. It extends RDFS being the most complex layer, formalizes ontologies, describes relationships between classes and uses logic to make deductions.
  • SPARQL (Simple Protocol and RDF Query Language) is a RDF query language, which can be used to query any RDF-based data. It enables to retrieve information for semantic web applications.
  • Microdata (HTML)  is an international standard that is applied to nest semantics within existing content on web pages. Search engines, web crawlers, and browsers can extract and process Microdata from a web page providing better search results

As mentioned, top layers contain technologies that are not yet standardized or comprise just ideas. May be, the layers Cryptography and Trust are the most uncommon of them. Thus Cryptography ensures and verifies the origin of web statements from a trusted source by a digital signature of RDF statements. Trust to derived statements means that the premises come from the trusted source and that formal logic during deriving new information is reliable.

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Changing the theme of this blog

August 26, 2010
1 Comment
By Galina Vitkova

Dear visitors of my blog Why Technical English!

Circumstances wanted me to change the theme (graphical arrangement of this blog). I liked very much a former theme. I think it was ideally suited to the content of my blog. Nevertheless, I believe that the new theme will fit in with the content of the blog as well as the former one. In any case the content of the blog is the most important thing beyond a doubt and the content has been kept. Moreover, the change of the theme forced me to elaborate a classified list of posts on the blog. Now you can find the posts that are the most interesting for you much easier. Just look through the sidebar and choose appropriate post in the List of tech texts on power engineering or in the List of tech texts on computers etc. In fact there are eleven of such lists, i.e. (posts in individual lists are ordered by the date of their publishing):

  • List of Posts: Tech texts on computers;
  • List of Posts: Tech texts on WEB;
  • List of Posts: Tech texts on power engineering and renewables;
  • List of Posts: Tech texts on robots;
  • List of Posts: Tech texts on genetics;
  • List of Posts: Interviews;
  • List of Posts: Grammar issues in tech texts;
  • List of Posts: Students´ opinion on Tech English;
  • List of Posts about Technical Writing;
  • List of Posts about SKYPE conversation;
  • List of Posts: Miscellaneous.

 

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

 

The content of individual lists comprises as follows:

List of Posts: Tech texts on computers

List of Posts: Tech texts on WEB

List of Posts: Tech texts on power engineering and renewables

 List of Posts: Tech texts on robots

List of Posts: Tech texts on genetics

List of Posts: Interviews

 List of Posts: Dictionaries and Grammar issues in tech texts

 List of Posts: Students´ opinion on Tech English

List of Posts about Technical Writing

List of Posts about SKYPE conversation

 List of Posts: Miscellaneous

Good luck in study Technical English using the posts on this blog!


Hanlin e-Reader V5

July 14, 2010
9 Comments

By P.B. 

  

A week ago I bought my first e-book reader – Hanlin eReader V5. It cost  5.500 Czech crowns (about US$275 US Dollars) including VAT. The set includes a case of leather, e-Reader, USB-cable, power adapter, manual, screwdriver, headphones and 2 GB SD card with 250 e-books in Czech language (by Czech authors J.A. Komensky and K. Capek, then  J. London, etc.)

Here is my general impression after 4 days of owning this device.

Advantages appear to be as follows:

  • it is easy to understand how this product works;
  • the reading is comfortable (good quality of a display) and a user can set a size of letters (it depends on the format of a document –  PDF has 5 possibilities, TXT offers 3 possibilities);
  • usage of e-Ink technology (see a note at the end of this article) enables to read approximately 8000 pages without charging batteries;
  • supports many formats: PDF, DOC, HTML, JPEG, GIF, MP3, ZIP, RAR and some others;
  • the technology supports both reading and  listening modern English books, which  is very good for studying;
  • the 2 GB SD (Security Digital) card is included, but it is possible to use 16 GB SD card (internal memory 384 MB); notice: Secure Digital (SD) is a non-volatile memory card format developed by Panasonic, SanDisk, and Toshiba for portable devices.
  • provides a reasonable size of the e-Reader;
  • supports bookmarks (up to 7 bookmarks in one book, which may be deleted by a user);
  • gives a possibility to go directly to a specific page (for example, page 721);
  • the system remembers last 16 files;
  • besides reading and listening to the books it also provides listening to the music or showing     pictures.

 Disadvantages seem to be as follows:

  •   sometimes problems with special characters (č, š, ř, ž…) arise;
  •   slow functioning (it is better to create a tree of folders with books – it runs faster);
  •   cutting off letters in words at the end of the row varies (e.g. „udělat“ can be cut ud-ělat, uděl-at, etc.);
  •  doesn´t support searching  in your library;
  •  when a user applies functions for reading and listening together, the audio is not always of good quality (I have tried only one source – maybe it has happened by chance);
  • doesn´t support touchscreen;
  •  not all paper books (especially by Czech authors) are in a form of e-book.

 General conclusion

  • it is expensive (but it depends on your considerations);
  • e-Reader can comprise more e-books (depends on a memory card)
  • it is very good for holiday or for usage when traveling by city transport;
  • in the future, when more sophisticated functions are amended, it will bring great conveniences for common people.

 

NOTE: E-Ink is used with electronic paper (e-paper) or electronic ink display, which imitates the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. E-paper reflects ambient light like ordinary paper rather than emitting its own light. An e-paper display can be read in direct sunlight without the image appearing to fade. Moreover, in this case the contrast seems to be the best. On the contrary, in the places that are not well lit the problem with contrast could appear.

Through this new technology the display takes the energy from a battery only when it draws its content. It lasts just a fraction of a second. For the rest of displaying time no feed power is needed. This feature let the e-Reader offer hundreds hours of reading without charging, e.g. with standard Li-pol accumulator it makes about 8000 pages of text.

E-Reader can show videos or photos but the quality of showing them is not good.

 


What is the difference between PDF, XPS and OOXML?

May 28, 2010
2 Comments
By  PB

PDF stands for Portable Document Format, XPS means XML Paper Specification and OOXML is a written abbreviation of Open Office XML (Extensible Markup Language). PDF is specified by Adobe, whereas XPS and OOXML are specified by Microsoft. PDF uses a proprietary binary format, XPS employs XML and ZIP. PDF has been extended over the years to support all types of documents. Acrobat is a standard viewer of Adobe although there are many other solutions.

The primary advantage of XPS over PDF is its cost. XPS is available royalty free on Windows XP (an optional installation of NET Framework 3.0 is necessary), Vista and Windows7. XPS Viewers are also available for Mac, Linux and Unix platforms. From the technical viewpoint a benefit of XPS consists in using an XML format. For this reason Adobe has evolved a format Mars, which is a PDF rewrite to XML.  A unique feature of XPS is supporting Microsoft HD Photo (JPEG XR). All Microsoft Office 2007 applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access contain possibility to ´Save As XPS´ and in addition to ´Save As PDF´, too. From a viewpoint of an electronic exchange of XPS documents profit is that users can put their digital signature on XPS documents.

However, the current Microsoft XPS viewer is very slow and has few capabilities. This time XPS resembles PDF but PDF has better features in all areas. XPS faces problems with many types of fonts, TrueType and knockouts.

The future of XPS is not clear – the Microsoft Company must improve this product – especially its speed. After that it could be a usable tool.

 


Windows 7 Taskbar

January 31, 2010
1 Comment
By P.B. 

In Windows 7 the Windows Taskbar has underwent the most significant revision since its introduction in Windows 95. In general, now it is rather application-oriented than window-oriented, When application runs, it is denoted by a border frame around its icon. When user runs some program or opens the folder, the preview of this program or folder without description appears on the screen (it is different from Vista or XP). So the user immediately gets information about opened windows and can easily switch among them.

Moreover, applications can easily be pinned to the taskbar. It enables the user to get instant access to the applications which are often used. Pinning applications to the taskbar can be done in two ways. First, you can simply drag and drop the icon onto the taskbar. Or you can do it by right-clicking the application icon and pinning the icon to the taskbar – similar to Windows XP or Vista.

Thumbnail previews

were already introduced in Windows Vista. In Windows 7 they have been expanded to also interact with them, i.e.:

  • The user can close any open a window by clicking the X on the corresponding thumbnail preview,
  • Hovering over the thumbnail preview you get a “peek” of the window.

The previews integrate Thumbnail Toolbars, which greatly enriched the Windows 7 taskbar. Actually these toolbars enable control the application from the thumbnail previews themselves (e.g. if Windows Media Player is opened and the mouse is hovering on its icon, the thumbnail preview will allow the user to Play, Stop, etc. without switching to the Windows Media Player window). 

Jump lists

are one of the best innovations you see in the Windows 7. By simply right-clicking an icon of an application on the taskbar, you are able to see a list of previous applications associated with that program. Furthermore, the list can be created holding the left mouse button and sliding up on an icon. Each list contains the information which corresponds to the features unique to the application (e.g. a Microsoft Word jump list might display all the recently opened documents). Up to 10 menu items may appear on a jump list by default, and Windows 7 provides possibility to adjust it. See below an example of a jump list (Fig. 1).

Fig.1 Jump Lists

Notification area has been redesigned in Windows 7. In addition to deciding whether the application icons are shown, the ability to hide each application’s notification balloons has been added. A triangle to the left of the visible notification icons displays the hidden notification icons to the user.

When an Aero Peek button is clicked, or hovered over with the mouse the desktop and gadgets are displayed by turning all windows transparent. Aero Peek exhibits the same features as the thumbnail previews, but it applies them to the desktop. If the mouse hovers over it, all windows are transparent, as shown in the picture. If the button is clicked, all applications are minimized and the user does not need to close or minimize windows or programs. When the button is clicked again, everything is restored.

Fig.2  The view before Aero Peek

Fig.2 The view before Aero Peek

 

Fig.  3  Aero Peek in action

Fig. 3 Aero Peek in action

 And in conclusion there is a very short note about a Basic desktop. The Sidebar applied in the Windows Vista has appeared not to be user friendly. So, it has been removed and now users can put gadgets (weather, calendar etc.) anywhere on the desktop.

  Key abbreviations for Windows 7

  • Alt + Tab: to switch the open windows with thumbnails
  • Alt + Ctrl + Tab: to switch the open windows with thumbnails which are open till the user presses ESC
  • Win + Tab: to switch the open windows with thumbnails which are open till the user presses ESC with 3D effect (not practical)
  • Win + D: to show the desktop (screen)
  • Win + E: to open the explorer on the Computer view
  • Win + F: to activate searching
  • Win + G: to switch among gadgets which are on the desktop (a new feature)
  • Win + L: to lock the computer
  • Win + R: to open the function Run
  • Win + X: to show the Centre of mobile devices (for notebooks)
  • Win + Pause: to open the window with system information
  • Ctrl + Shift + Esc: to show the Task manager (the window processes)
  • Win + Home: to „clean“ the desktop (all windows except the active window) – a new feature
  • Win + space: to show the desktop through windows – a new feature
  • Win + arrow to the left (right) half maximization to the left or right place on the desktop

 


Renewables are becoming more and more popular

January 23, 2010
3 Comments
Composed by Galina Vitkova

REN21 (Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century) has just issued the newest information about the current renewable policy and its realisation in the form of Renewables Interactive Map (beta-version). The Map can be found on the REN21 website, at http://www.ren21.net/mapThe map contains a great deal of information on renewable energy, including support policies, expansion targets, current shares, installed capacity, current production, future scenarios, policy pledges, etc. It enables you to immediately gain by simple clicking on the country of your interest, depicted on the world geographic map, the current information about:

  • Renewables in General:
  • ♦ Policies (feed-in tariff, investment tax credits, net metering, etc)
  • ♦ Targets (final energy, primary energy, electricity, heating/cooling, etc)
  • ♦ Scenarios (before 2020, after 2020 up to 2050)
  • ♦ Others
  • Statistics (global and for individual participating countries) on geothermal energy, wind energy, solar energy, biofules (mainly ethanol)
  • Information about all kind of renewable which the country concerns (energy of wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, biomass), again for the world and for world regions
  • Technologies in use
  • And others

So the map serves as a central access-point to current renewable energy information, which is very comfortable. Moreover, you will find unknown for you concepts in the glossary accessed from the map.

REN21 has already ensured authentic information for several years, in particular through its Renewables Global Status Report. A new tool, the Renewables Interactive Map is intended to trail more closely the dynamic development of renewable energy production and market development. Furthermore, it provides disaggregated information for particular countries and technologies (see aggregated information on the topic at this blog too, About renewables position just now ).

Studying renewable energy information you improve your technical English, enjoying competent technical texts. Moreover, at the same time you gain very advantageous and comprehensive information about things which we all depend on.

Find below aggregated statistics which denote:

  • Geothermal  energy  (cumulative installed geothermal power capacity in MW)
  • Solar  energy  (cumulative  installed  photovoltaic (PV) power in MW)
  • Wind energy (cumulative  installed capacity  of wind turbines in MW)
  • Fuel ethanol (production in thousand tonnes oil equivalent).

Study the statistics of worldwide renewables adopted from http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/reports_and_publications/statistical_energy_review_2008/STAGING/local_assets/2009_downloads/renewables_section_2009.pdf.

Notice the column „Change 08 over 07“.  It demonstrates that in 2008 capacity of renewables installations is increase in comparison with 2007.   For example, production of ethanol in the USA increased by 42.0 % and makes 52.2 % world production of ethanol. In Europe the production increased by 50.8, but makes only 3.8 % world production of this biofuel. Statistics about usage of solar energy usage in Europe are of particular interest. For example, total increase of cumulative  installed  photovoltaic (PV) power counts up to 69.1 %, where Germany increased its solar  installed  PV power by 37.5 %(40,9 % of world total) and Spain had the growth of its solar  installed  PV power by 422.2 % (24.5 % of world total).

Geothermal  energy (MW)

2008

Change 08 over 07
Share of total
Indonesia

1 042.5

6.1 %

10.0 %

Italy

810.5

– 

7.7 %

Japan

537.3

5.1 %

Mexico

964.5

0.5 %

9.2 %

New Zealand

586.6

24.4 %

5.6 %

Philippine

1 780.0

18.9 %

USA

2 998

2.1 %

28.6 %

Total

10 469.0

4.2 %

100 %

  

Solar energy (MW)

  

2008

 

Change 08 over 07
 
Share of total

North America

1 226.7

39.9 %

9.1 %

incl.:  USA

1 172.5

41.2 %

8.7 %

Europe (without Russian Federation)

9 614.9

92.3 %

71.5 %

 incl.: Germany

5 498.0

37.5 %

40.9 %

 incl.:  Spain

3 291.2

422.2 %

24.5 %

Others

2 603.3

25.1 %

19.4 % 

incl.:  Japan

2 148.9

12.0 %

16.0 %

Total

13 444.9

69.1 %

100 %

 

Wind  energy (MW)

2008

Change 08 over 07
Share of total
North America  

27 940

48.6 %

22.9 %

incl.:  USA

25 237

49.5 %

20.7 %

Europe+Euroasia

65 998

68.2 %

54.0 %

incl.:    Germany

23 933

7.4 %

19.6 %

incl.:   Spain

16 543

12.4 %

13.5 %

Asia Pacific

26 446

59.8 %

21.6 %

incl.:  China

12 121

106.3%

9.9 %

incl.:  India

9 655

23.1 %

7.9 %

Total

122 158

29.9 %

100 %

Fuel  ethanol (thousand tonnes)

2008

Change 08 over 07
Share of total

North America

18 154

42.0 %

52.2 %

incl.:  USA

17 460

41.3 %

50.2 %

South America

13 723

19.7 %

39.4 %

incl.:  Brasilia

13 549

20.0 %

38.2 %

Europe

1337

50.8 %

3.8 %

Asia Pacific

1 586

10.4 %

4.6 %

incl.:  China

1 021

– 2.4 %

2.9 %

Total

34 800

30.9 %

100 %

        

Note: About REN21

REN21 (Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century)  is a global policy network that provides a forum for international leadership on renewable energy. Its goal is to encourage the policy of development and the rapid expansion of renewable energies in developing and industrialised economies.

 

 


Short communication on multi-touch

December 27, 2009
1 Comment
By Galina Vitkova

It is just to attract your attention, dear colleagues and friend of Technical English, to an extremely interesting and incentive contemplation in Multi touch computing change the next generation of computer  on the blog http://gyandotcom.wordpress.com/ . The post was written more than a year ago, but its challenges remains tremendous till now. It is rather long and the main points turn on the following ideas:

  • multi-touch computing technology enables to communicate with a computer using all 10 fingers, not only touching the screen by one finger.
  • Moreover, more people can touch the wall size screen simultaneously; or it could be several screens connected to one green
  • Perceptive Pixels beginning and achievements and their role in development of modern multi-touch
  • Perhaps most fundamental was exploiting an optical effect known as frustrated total internal reflection (FTIR), which is also used in fingerprint-recognition equipment.
  • Attempts and efforts made by Microsoft, Mitsubishi Wired In and other large, well-known companies are routed to find out the best solution and results of their work are astounding.

My advice – read the post and enjoy it!

            Reference:   http://gyandotcom.wordpress.com/


Handwriting recognition and Windows 7

December 25, 2009
1 Comment
Compiled by Galina Vitkova

Handwriting recognition concerns the ability of a computer to get and interpret comprehensible handwritten input from paper documents, photographs, touch-screens and other devices. Two varieties of hhandwriting recognition are principally distinguished: off-line and on-line. The image of the written text may be estimated “off line” from a piece of paper by optical scanning through OCR (optical character recognition) or by IWR (intelligent word recognition). As contrasted to “off-line handwriting recognition”, under “on line handwriting recognitiona real-time digitizing tablet is used for input, for example, by a pen-based computer screen surface.

 Off-line recognition

Off-line handwriting recognition involves the automatic conversion of text into letter codes, which are usable within computer and text-processing applications. The data obtained by this form is regarded as a static representation of handwriting.

The technology is successfully used by businesses which process lots of handwritten documents, like insurance companies. The quality of recognition can be substantially increased by structuring the document, for example, by using forms.

The off-line handwriting recognition is relatively difficult because people have different handwriting styles. Nevertheless, limiting the range of input can allow recognition to be improved. For example, the ZIP code digits are generally read by computer to sort the incoming mail.

In optical character recognition (OCR) typewritten or printed text (usually captured by a scanner) is mechanically or electronically conversed into machine-editable text. When one scans a paper page into a computer, the process results in just an image file a photo of the page. Then OCR software converts it into a text or word processor file.

Intelligent Word Recognition, or IWR, is the recognition of unconstrained handwritten words. IWR recognizes entire handwritten words or phrases instead of character-by-character, like OCR. IWR technology matches handwritten or printed words to a user-defined dictionary, It leads to significantly reducing character errors encountered in typical character-based recognition engines. IWR also eliminates a large percentage of the manual data entry of handwritten documents that, in the past, could be detected only by a human.

New technology on the market utilizes IWR, OCR, and ICR (intelligent character recognition, i.e. an advanced optical character recognition) together. For example, most ICR software has a self-learning system referred to as a neural network, which automatically updates the recognition database for new handwriting patterns. All these achievements open many possibilities for the processing of documents, either constrained (hand printed or machine printed) or unconstrained (freeform cursive). Moreover, a complete handwriting recognition system, as a rule, also handles formatting, performs correct segmentation into characters and finds the most plausible words.

 On-line recognition

On-line handwriting recognition involves the automatic conversion of text as it is written on a special digitizer or a personal digital assistant (PDA), which is a mobile device, also known as a palmtop computer. PDA sensor picks up the pen-tip movements as well as pen-up/pen-down switching. The obtained signal is converted into letter codes which are usable within computer and text-processing applications.

The elements of an on-line handwriting recognition interface typically include:

  • A pen or stylus for the user to write with.
  • A touch sensitive surface, which may be integrated with, or adjacent to, an output display.
  • A software application which interprets the movements of the stylus across the writing surface, translating the resulting strokes into digital text.

Commercial products incorporating handwriting recognition as a replacement for keyboard input were introduced in the early 1980s. Since then advancements in electronics have allowed the computing power necessary for handwriting recognition to fit into a smaller form factor than tablet computers, and handwriting recognition is often used as an input method for hand-held PDAs. Modern handwriting recognition systems are often based on Time Delayed Neural Network (TDNN) classifier, nicknamed “Inferno”, built at Microsoft.

In recent years, several attempts were made to produce ink pens that include digital elements, such that a person could write on paper, and have the resulting text stored digitally. The best known of these use technology developed by Anoto (see also Discussion – The Digital Pen), which has had some success in the education market. The general success of these products is yet to be determined. Nevertheless, a number of companies develop software for digital pens based on Anoto technology.

                                                                             

 

 

 

 

 

Handwriting in Windows 7

According to Mountain View, CA, December 1, 2009 – PhatWare Corporation announces the launch of the latest version of PenOffice (PenOffice 3.3), which works with Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2. PhatWare Corporation is a leading provider of software products and professional services for mobile and desktop computers. Its new product offers customers enhanced security and innovative user interface features. PenOffice 3.3 is an advanced pen-enabled collaboration and handwriting recognition software for Microsoft Windows-based computers. It can be used with any pointing input device, such as graphic tablet, interactive while board, touch screen monitor, Tablet PC, online digital pen, and even standard computer mouse.

In compliance with Stan Miasnikov, president of PhatWare Corp. “Making application compatible with Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 helps us offer our customers compelling benefits, including intuitive user interfaces such as pen-based collaboration, improved security and reliability features, full support for multi-core processing, and sophisticated configuration and management features to improve mobile working.”

Although handwriting recognition is an input form that the public has become accustomed to, it has not achieved widespread use in either desktop computers or laptops. It is still generally accepted that keyboard input is both faster and more reliable. As of 2006many PDAs offer handwriting input, sometimes even accepting natural cursive handwriting, but accuracy is still a problem, and some people still find even a simple on-screen keyboard more efficient.

 

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

                                          


Multi-touch functions of Windows 7

December 18, 2009
2 Comments
                                                                                                 Compiled by Galina Vitkova

Already in 2007 Windows 7 were said to have new touch features. An overview of the multi-touch capabilities, including a virtual piano program, a mapping and directions program and a touch-aware version of Paint, was demonstrated at the All Things Digital Conference on May 27, 2008. A video demonstrating the multi-touch capabilities was later made available on the web.

Let us specify some necessary term. A touchscreen is a display that can detect the presence and location of a touch by a finger or hand within the display area. The touchscreen has two main properties. First, it enables one to interact with what is displayed directly on the screen. Second, it lets one do so without requiring any intermediate device, again, like a stylus, for instance. Such displays can be attached to computers or, as terminals, to networks. They also play a prominent role in the design of digital appliances such as the personal digital assistant (PDA), satellite navigation devices, mobile phones, and video games.

Multi-Touch, which is a trademark of Apple, Inc., concerns the same technology that allows the user to interact with the device by placing two or more fingers directly onto the surface of the screen. The movement of the fingers across the screen creates gestures, which send commands to the device.

Gesture recognition is topically used in computer science and language technology for goal interpreting human gestures via mathematical algorithms. Gestures can originate from any bodily motion or state but commonly originate from the face or hand. Current focuses in the field include emotion recognition from the face and hand gesture recognition. The gesture recognition can be seen as a way for computers to begin to understand human body language. Thus it may build a more sophisticated connection between machines and humans than primitive text user interfaces or even GUIs (graphical user interfaces), which still embraces the majority of input to keyboard and mouse.

However, the gesture recognition enables humans to interface with the machine (HMI) and interact naturally without any mechanical devices. Using the concept of gesture recognition, it is possible to point a finger at the computer screen so that the cursor will move accordingly. This could potentially make conventional input devices such as mouse, keyboards and even touch-screens redundant. Finally, gesture recognition can be conducted with techniques from computer vision and image processing.

In general, multi-touch requires a touch screen (screen, overlay, table, wall, etc.) or touchpad, as well as software that recognizes multiple simultaneous touch points, as opposed to the single touch screen, which recognizes only one touch point. This effect is achieved through a variety of means, including heat, finger pressure, high capture rate cameras, infrared light, optic capture, tuned electromagnetic induction, ultrasonic receivers, transducer microphones, laser rangefinders, and shadow capture.

Although the first hints and discussions of multi-touch technology appeared already at the end of 20th century, mainstream exposure to this technology occurred in 2007, when Apple unveiled the iPhone and Microsoft debuted surface computing. The iPhone in particular has spawned a wave of interest in multi-touch computing because it permits greatly increased user interaction on a small scale. Gradually more robust and user-friendly multi-touch and gesture-based solutions have been becoming available.

Windows 7 is the first version of Windows that supports multi-touch without the addition of third party add-ons.(See for more details Multi-Touch Systems that I Have Known and Loved by Bill Buxton). The operating system is known to have a multi-touch mapping application, photo viewing program, and incorporation in Internet Explorer 8. In January 2009, Microsoft joined with other investors who invested twenty-four million dollars in N-Trig Ltd., which plans to make computer hardware that takes advantage of Windows 7’s multi-touch support.

In the end let´s put some notes on a touch-aware version of Paint (formerly Paintbrush for Windows). It is a simple graphics painting program that has been included with all versions of Microsoft Windows. It is often referred to as MS Paint or Microsoft Paint. The program opens and saves files as Windows bitmap with the .bmp extension, JPEG, GIF (without animation), PNG (without alpha channel), and TIFF (without the multiple pages). The program can be in colour mode or two-colour black-and-white, but there is no grayscale mode. For its simplicity, it rapidly became one of the most used applications in the early versions of Windows and still has strong associations with the immediate usability of the old Windows workspace.

The Windows 7 version of paint makes use of the Ribbon UI (User Inteface).   In GUI-based application software, a ribbon is an interface where a set of toolbars are placed on tabs in a tab bar. Recent releases of some Microsoft applications have comprised this form with an tricky modular ribbon as their main interface. The Ribbon can also contain tabs to expose different sets of control elements eliminating the need for a lot of different icon based toolbars.

It similarly provides “artistic” brushes composed of varying shades of gray and some transparency that give a more realistic result. In order to increase feeling of the realism, the oil and water colour brushes can only paint for a small distance before the user must re-click. This gives the illusion that the paint brush has run out of paint. It l has anti-aliased shapes as well, which can be resized freely until they are rasterised when another tool is selected. This version supports viewing (but not saving) transparent PNG and ICO file formats and saves in the PNG file format by default.

References:

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia –  http://en.wikipedia.org


Windows Media Center

November 30, 2009
2 Comments
Composed by Galina Vitkova

Windows Media Center is an application with a 10-foot user interface designed to serve as a home-entertainment hub for the living-room TV. Windows XP Media Center Edition, premium editions of Windows Vista (Vista Home Premium and Vista Ultimate) and Windows 7 (all editions, except Starter and Home Basic) comprise it. The Media Center is controlled by special remote controls or remotes. At the same time it can be operated with a mouse and/or a keyboard, too. The Media Center plays the computer user’s pictures, videos, and music from local hard drives, optical drives, and network locations. All this is then categorized by name, date, tags, and other file attributes.

Media managed through the Media Center can also be relayed via a home network to standard TV sets via the specially designed Windows Media Center Extender or the Xbox 360. This allows to use the Media Center and its features (such as view photos, videos, listen to music, watch live television, watch recorded TV, etc.) on the television set or other display device.

The advantage with these devices is that the household’s primary computer (hosting the Media Center) can be physically set up in a location more appropriate for its role, instead of being in the living room. Furthermore, the Media Center with an Extender can be accessed at the same time by several users. The Xbox 360 gaming console is a very popular example of a Media Center Extender. By the way, Xbox 360 is the only device that can work as an extender with both Windows XP Media Center as well as Windows Vista Media Center.

Windows 7 Media Center comprises all prosperous characteristics of its forerunners and brings new possibilities. Thus the performance improvement on Extenders is immediately apparent especially with the play functions like fast forward, rewind, and skip. The menus are also more manageable. The other big improvement concerns EPG (Electronic program guide), which makes utilities like Guide Tool possible. The Guide Tool is a Windows Media Center guide management application, which apart from other things enables local and remote guide management and other funny functions (see Guide Tool).

The new guide is visually better, it includes images throughout, as well as provides new ways to navigate. Moreover, all the tuners can be combined per channel to help resolve conflicts and give you control over which tuners are used for which channels. Additionally, new APIs (Application programming interface) are available there which permits to inject logos for each channel and create utilities to edit the line-up. Further, it offers the best of all around DVR (Digital video recorder) solution available today. It is even possible to import custom data, but regrettably you can´t easily backup them. At the same time it is actually extremely stable. (See for more details Windows 7 Media Center review ).

The Windows 7 Media Center undoubtedly exceeds the Vista Media Center. Microsoft has again raised the bar and has manufactured something which moves everybody beyond, even if the competition is still exists. Nevertheless, unluckily this Center isn’t for everyone. The upfront cost with the potential maintenance expenses is the most outstanding barrier to overcome.

For all that, the extant experience with Microsoft products make us believe that prices will come down and common people will afford to have Windows 7 Media Center.  

 

Windows 7 Media Center miniguide

Windows 7 Media Center miniguide

 

References

http://www.engadget.com  (Windows 7 Media Center review )

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_7


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