How to transform your 2 megapixel camera phone into 20 megapixel?

Don’t underestimate the diminutive camera in your phone. It can capture unbelievable jumbo size images.

 
If we said we shot a 20 megapixel image with a camera phone, you’d think we were kidding. Yes, it’s impossible to capture an image that large with a phone in a single shot, but it’s possible to do it with multiple shots. If you’re into digital photography you might have probably guessed what we’re going to talk about in this hands-on session—it’s about capturing panoramas.
Shooting a panorama involves shooting segments of a large scene in a sequence and then stitching them together using an image stitching utility to get a single large image. While this technique is ideal for capturing landscapes and ultra-wide scenes that are impossible to capture in a single shot, you can even capture group photos with great details.
No doubt digital cameras deliver best results; we headed out with a camera phone and shot a picturesque landscape. And the results were astonishing! Here’s how we went about it.
Step 1: Get Autostitch
Autostitch can be downloaded for free from www.autostitch.net as a Zip archive (autostitch.zip). Extract the contents to a new folder on your hard drive. The software is a mere 1.4 MB in size after extraction. You can create a shortcut to the executable file on your Desktop or ‘Start menu | Programs’ for easy access.
Step 2: Shooting technique
Autostitch is the most easy-to-use and intelligent image stitching software  that we have got our hands on so far. It can automatically arrange and align the images captured in series and deliver seamless results. Autostitch is capable of handling a series of images captured in a variety of sequences, the number of pictures that Autostitch can handle is virtually limitless. The most commonly used sequence is the horizontal sequence in which the images of the scene are captured along the horizontal axis. This sequence is ideal for capturing scenes such as landscapes that are wide and impossible to capture in a single shot. You can even capture a vertical panorama, for instance a shot of a tall building, by capturing the series of images vertically starting from the top or bottom of the building. Autostitch can also handle sequences of images taken along a wavy path as shown in the image below. This is the most complex sequence and is ideal for shooting very large scenes.
While stitching the images, the image stitching software detects the edge of the next image which overlaps the edge of the current image and aligns the images accordingly. If there are no overlapping edges, the software won’t know how to align the images. So the basic rule is to make sure that around one-sixth of the current frame overlaps the next frame.
Step 3: Go out and shoot!
Start with this little exercise—go out with your phone and shoot a horizontal panorama. Shoot whatever you like, perhaps a view from your balcony or vehicles lined up at a traffic signal. You can capture a great panorama from the terrace of a tall apartment. If you’re hanging out with a group of friends, take a group shot, but not a single shot from a distance. Get closer and capture all the subjects in a series of shots, horizontally. Don’t forget the overlapping rule! If you’re too lazy to go out, you can experiment with the sample images that come included in the Zip archive. Carefully note the overlapping regions in the samples.
  
Step 4: Fire up Autostitch
Transfer the series of images you just shot to your PC in a new folder and then run Autostitch. Go to Edit and choose Option which is the only item listed in the menu. By default Autostitch scales the resultant panorama to 10 percent of its original size. Set the value to 100 percent to avoid resizing. If you have taken the images using the vertical frame (portrait orientation) you can set the option to rotate the images clockwise or anticlockwise. Finally set the JPEG quality to 100 to get the best image quality. Setting the quality to lower values will degrade the image quality. Don’t experiment with the other options as Autostitch does a neat job with the default settings. Click ‘OK’ to proceed.
Step 5: Time to stitch
After changing the options go to the File menu and click ‘Open’. Navigate to the folder where you transferred all the images from your phone. Select all the files and click on the ‘Open’ button to start the stitching process. This process is CPU intensive and you’ll have to wait patiently until the final image is displayed on your screen. The final result is saved as pano.jpg in the folder containing the images you transferred from your phone.
Step 6: Final touches
The final image will not be a perfect rectangle and may have black patches along some of the borders and corners. You can use IrfanView or Photoshop to crop the panorama and eliminate the redundant areas, or you can leave the image the way it is, if it looks artistic to you. Looks good? Bet it does!

 


Intel Core i7: The new super CPU

Chip czar Intel has once again set new benchmark records with its latest CPUs, the Core i7 series. CHIP reveals the technical innovations inside them.
Intel’s development model for processors is known as the “Tick Tock” cycle. Every alternate year, they focus is on miniaturizing the existing production technology for CPUs (known as a process shrink—“Tick”), while in the next year a new architecture will be introduced, based on this process (“Tock”). The system has been functioning well for four years now. The Core i7 architecture, formerly known by its codename “Nehalem”, was introduced in November 2008, after the original Core architecture was shrunk to 45 nm around the end of 2007 (products codenamed “Penryn”). The new design brings a series of changes with it, all aimed at optimizing performance, power consumption and reliability.
New package
The last time Intel changed its processor package was in 2004, when it went from 478 contact pins to 775 pads. Since then, the package and matching socket has remained the same despite many CPU refreshes, but now Nehalem requires a radical turnabout. The new CPU requires about 600 more pins for all its new functions. Core i7 CPUs won’t fit into older motherboards since they now have 1,366 contact pads instead of 775. Even if they did fit physically, nothing would work since there are many new elements on the CPU which need to be connected to the motherboard and the rest of the computer’s components. The transition is understandable since it’s been a long time and there are genuine needs and advantages, but anyone who wants to use the new Intel technology must buy a new motherboard.
Goodbye FSB
The most significant innovation with the Nehalem architecture is the obsolescence of the Front Side Bus (FSB), which has been responsible for all communication between CPU and chipset so far. Its successor is known as the QuickPath Interconnect (QPI). The FSB was replaced mainly because its bandwidth was found to be inadequate: QPI provides 20-bit wide, bidirectional links resulting in a maximum data rate of 25.6 GB/s. This is immediately twice the speed of what an FSB at its highest possible rating of 1,600 MHz could offer. QPI is very similar to the HyperTransport technology used by AMD since 2001, which is now at version 3.1 and achieves similar transfer rates.
Intel has chosen to adopt another technique very successfully applied by AMD: a memory controller integrated in the processor package. Intel’s desktop architectures until now have placed the memory controller in the chipset. The specialty of current high end Core i7s is their triple-channel memory controller. Three memory modules can now be ganged up to achieve data transfer rates fast enough to keep the CPU fed with fresh data so that its potential is used optimally. The result is that PCs which make use of this will have 3, 6 or 12 GB of RAM, which is unconventional compared to the progression we’re used to. However, lower-cost Nehalem CPUs which are yet to be launched will feature more traditional dual-channel memory controllers and a different, smaller socket with only 1156 contact pads.
HyperThreading makes a comeback
Since the end of the Pentium 4 generation, HyperThreading disappeared almost completely, but it is now making a comeback. Intel refers to a processor’s ability to process two program threads at the same time as Simultaneous Multi-Threading (SMT). So in addition to the impressive figure of eight CPU cores on a chip in the Windows task manager—four virtual and four real—SMT allows the cores to be utilized more efficiently, with a promised increase in performance of up to 30 percent.
New clock speed tricks
Core i7 processors can run with each individual core at a different clock speed. Turbo mode is especially interesting, because it allows some cores to be overclocked when a non-multithreaded task taxes one or two cores while the others are left idle. Such a situation allows the application to run more efficiently and utilize resources more effectively—and can result in a performance increase of up to 10 percent. On the other hand, a new power saving mode switches idle cores to the C6 state (deep powerdown). In this state, the core is simply disconnected from the power supply. This is taken care of by microcontroller logic which monitors the temperature and power consumption of each core.
New design: Small L2 cache and large common L3 cache
One of the weak points of the cache design on Intel’s previous CPUs was that on a quad-core CPU, each pair of two cores shared a 6 MB L2 cache which was exclusive to them. This was great for fast data exchanges between those two cores, but bad for exchanges between all four, which required the data to travel through the much slower Front Side Bus. In Core i7 CPUs, each core now has its own L2 cache, which is considerablyownsized to 256 KB, but with its speed increased by 50 percent. Like in AMD’s  Athlon CPUs, a common 8 MB L3 cache (for the current quad-core models) is added to enable data exchange between the cores. This cache receives all data from the cores’ L1 and L2 caches, which in turn considerably accelerates data processing. This allows each core to be shut down without any risk of losing data that’s in transit between caches. 
A CPU design for all applications
The scalability of the Core i7 architecture is quite unique. Nehalem is suitable for desktops, servers and notebooks as well. Thanks to the new cache design and the introduction of the QPI, two, four or eight cores can now be integrated in a single processor die. Furthermore, the high speed of the QPI enables quick communication between several CPUs on one motherboard for high-end and server configurations. When 8-core Nehalem chips are available, power users should be able to gang two of them up for a grand total of 16 cores and 32 virtual CPUs!
At present, three Core i7 models are available in the market, with more to come soon. By the end of the year 2009, lower cost versions of Nehalem (codenamed Lynnfield and Havendale) will hit the market, with many more innovations and performance advantages in store for users.

Bluetooth Takes a Step in Speed With v3.0 Announced

From its annual All Hands Meeting in Tokyo this week, the Bluetooth SIG formally adopted Bluetooth Core Specification Version 3.0 High Speed (HS), or Bluetooth 3.0. This latest iteration of the popular short-range wireless technology fulfills the consumers’ need for speed while providing the same wireless Bluetooth experience – only faster. Manufacturers of consumer electronics and home entertainment devices can now build their products to send large amounts of video, music and photos between devices wirelessly at higher speeds.

 
Bluetooth 3.0 gets its speed from the 802.11 radio protocol. The inclusion of the 802.11 Protocol Adaptation Layer (PAL) provides increased throughput of data transfers at the approximate rate of 24 Mbps. In addition, mobile devices including Bluetooth 3.0 will realize increased power savings due to enhanced power control built in.

“Like Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights, this latest version was ‘born to go fast,’ said Michael Foley, Ph.D., executive director of the Bluetooth SIG.” Utilizing the 802.11 radio was a natural choice as it provides efficiencies for both our members and consumers – members get more function out of the two radios they are already including in devices, and consumers with Bluetooth v3.0 HS products will get faster exchange of information without changing how they connect. We are excited to expand the possibilities of the PAN.”

 This newest version of Bluetooth technology builds on the inherent qualities of the current 2.1 EDR version, including Simple Secure Pairing and built-in, automatic security. And as with all versions of the Bluetooth specification, Bluetooth 3.0 HS provides developers, manufacturers and consumers with the benefit of backwards compatibility, enabling both the expansion and enhancement of this technology with every new specification release. Once products reach the market, the easiest way for consumers to learn which devices are compatible with other Bluetooth enabled devices is to visit the Bluetooth Gadget Guide.

Some applications consumers will experience include:

  • Wirelessly bulk synchronize music libraries between PC and music player or phone
  • Bulk download photos to a printer or PC
  • end video files from camera or phone to computer or television

The Bluetooth SIG’s formal adoption of the specification is only the first step in the product lifecycle. News out today from wireless chip manufacturers and Bluetooth SIG member companies Atheros, Broadcom, CSR, and Marvell shows the second step – getting silicon solutions to device manufacturers – is already underway. End products for consumers are expected to be in the market in 9 to 12 months.

For more information click here.


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Motorola Aura Mobile Phone

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At the rear of the handset a transparent casing reveals three tungsten-carbide coated gears that assist in the handset’s panel rotation. The 2 megapixel camera’s lens is also plainly visible. You can see the gears in action while rotating the panel. A micro USB all-in-one port is located at the top of the handset. 
 
Features and Performance
I imagined the Aura basking in the glory of that blinding price tag to have features that would rival any phone anyone could come up with. However, at the crux of it, the Aura is just a fancy phone that’s designed with a very unique blend of materials, as mentioned, a sophisticated look and feel and one of THE most brilliant displays I’ve ever seen. Underneath that stainless steel exterior is a pretty standard Motorola handset with very, very standard features.

Interface
Although the UI has been designed to suite the round display it’s horribly sluggish most of the time. Multitasking is a b*t*h. With the audio player on in the back ground typing a simple message became a cumbersome task. Even with Motorola’s auto-complete feature, which is quite remarkable as is, I had already hit keys worth three full words before I had to stop and wait for the phone to catch up. Without anything running in the background, I was able to stay at least one and half word ahead of the handset.

 
The interface is simple though and not all that jazzy. The main menu system has simple icons and the sub menus are just the names of features that scroll up or down. The desktop uses specifically designed wall papers or simply expands an image from the photo gallery to suite the round display by cutting out the edges and centering on the middle of the picture. It manages to do this quite well, just make sure that the picture has enough space around the subject you wish the focus to be on.

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Airtel Launches 16 Mbps Broadband

Bharti Airtel has launched 16 Mbps broadband in the country.

This service, powered by Airtel’s Carrier Ethernet Network, will be initially available in Delhi NCR, Chennai and Bangalore with phased roll-out in Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai and Kolkata.

K Srinivas, Joint President, Telemedia Services, Bharti Airtel said, “Airtel has constantly strived to innovate and deliver high quality products to its broadband customers. We are the leading private broadband service provider in the country and pioneered 8 Mbps broadband. It gives us great pleasure now to be able to introduce the fastest, wired broadband service on DSL. We will be able to offer 16 Mbps broadband to 70% of the households in the 3 cities of Delhi NCR, Chennai and Bangalore.”

Airtel delivers its broadband service to customers through a fibre backbone of Carrier Ethernet Network with last mile delivery on copper using ADSL2+ technology. This technology enables ultra high-speed broadband which is scalable and affordable.

Customers have 2 tariff plans to choose from –

– Speed Combo 2999 – receive 16 Mbps broadband speed with monthly data transfer limit of 20 GB along with a fixed line connection at Rs. 2999 per month.

– Speed Combo 4999 – receive 16 Mbps broadband speed with monthly data transfer limit of 50 GB along with a fixed line connection at Rs. 4999 per month.

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