Windows Azure

Windows® Azure is a cloud services operating system that serves as the development, service hosting and service management environment for the Azure Services Platform. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage Web applications on the Internet through Microsoft® data centers.

To build these applications and services, developers can use their existing Microsoft® Visual Studio® 2008 expertise. In addition, Windows Azure supports popular standards and protocols including SOAP, REST, and XML. Windows Azure is an open platform that will support both Microsoft and non-Microsoft languages and environments.

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New MacBook / MacBook Pro unboxing and first impressions

We've had a chance to spend a little time with Apple's new laptop offerings, and we wanted to give you a taste of what's changed -- and stayed the same -- in the MacBook and MacBook Pro. Included after the break is a rundown of our impressions. We're going to be doing a longer, fuller, more exciting review in the very near future, but this should give you an idea of what to expect if you're planning on diving into one of these anytime soon. If you just want to get into the heavy stuff, you can hit the galleries below for a thorough look at the hardware.

If you're wondering why the color temperature seems to vary in the photos, we shot it at the Revision3 studios while filming a segment for Tekzilla and they kept changing the lights (lovely folks, lighting changes notwithstanding)

Black Silicon Discovery Could Change Digital Photography, Night Vision Forever

With the accidental discovery of "black silicon," Harvard physicists may have very well changed the digital photography, solar power and night vision industries forever. What is black silicon, you say? Well, it's just as it sounds. Black silicon. It's what this revolutionary new material does that's important, starting with light sensitivity. Early indications show black silicon is 100 to 500 times more sensitive to light than a traditional silicon wafer.

To create the special silicon, Harvard physicist Eric Mazur shined a super powerful laser onto a silicon wafer. The laser's output briefly matches all the energy produced by the sun falling onto the Earth's entire surface at a given moment in time. To spice the experiment up, he also had researchers apply sulfur hexafluoride, which the semiconductor industry uses to make etchings in silicon for circuitry. Seriously, he did this just for kicks and to secure more funding for an old project.

“I got tired of metals and was worrying that my Army funding would dry up,” he said. “I wrote the new direction into a research proposal without thinking much about it — I just wrote it in; I don’t know why," he said.

The new experiment made the silicon black to the naked eye. Under an electron microscope, however, the dark sheen was revealed to be thousands, if not millions, of tiny spikes. As we said above, those spikes had an amazing effect on the light sensitivity of the wafer. Mazur said the material also absorbs about twice as much visible light as traditional silicon, and can detect infrared light that is invisible to today's silicon detectors.

And there's no change to the manufacturing process, Mazur said, so existing semiconductor facilities can create black silicon without much additional effort or, more importantly, money. [New York Times]