Thursday, June 30, 2005

Colorful rice

Taiwan researchers have created new strains of rice that are colorful and nutritious. The first four colors are yellow, green, pink and purple rice. Yellow rice gets its hue from curcumin, a herb used in curries and is believed by some to be an antioxidant. Green rice comes from bitter gourd, pink comes from tomato, and purple from a mixture of vegetables. But the researchers aren't stopping there. They are hoping to create up to 14 colors so that one can have a different color rice everyday for two weeks.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

New Microsoft educational products

Microsoft has announced their new education products. They include:

  • Learning Essentials for Microsoft Office: a set of add-ons to Office XP/2003 that includes toolbars, tutorials and templates for common student tasks.

  • Shared Computer Toolkit for Windows XP: software tools and documentation for locking down shared computers. A public beta of this is available at

  • Microsoft Student 2006: "a productivity resource to help middle- and high-school students complete high-quality homework assignments and projects". Features include:

    • "Graphing Calculator software to help students visualize and understand difficult math and science concepts through 2-D and 3-D graphing capabilities
    • Learning Essentials for Microsoft Office
    • Additional tools streamline Internet searches to provide trusted Encarta content

    It is interesting to note that they are not marketing this as "Encarta plus extra stuff", but rather as a student productivity suite. In fact, they only subtly say that Encarta is included as part of the product.

  • Encarta Academic Online: "a new academic-specific, online version of Microsoft's reference library, suite of homework tools and rich multimedia content. Encarta Academic Online features a new interface optimized for academic searches and gives students one-click access to Encarta reference content in seven languages for 11 countries."

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Sneak peek at microsoft student graphing calculator

Here is a peek at the graphic calculator application included as part of the Microsoft Student 2006 product.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Microsoft Encarta 2006 marketing

With the release date only a few weeks away, I'm surprised to find very little advanced information about the product. One interesting thing that I have noticed is that the package now contains both CD's and DVD's. This makes a lot of sense, since it is much cheaper to include the extra disks in the package than to come up with a different package that differs in just the disks.

It looks like there is some price changes too. The 2005 version sells for $100 Cnd. The 2006 version sells for $80. That sounds great -- less money for more stuff. But the marketing department is one step ahead. The new Microsoft Student 2006, which includes Encarta and more stuff, sells for $120. So does one pay less money for the old stuff which will be psychologically viewed as junk because now one can pay more money for newer stuff. Clever those marketing people.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Microsoft Encarta 2006 and a look back

The tagline on Encarta 2006 says "the complete companion to research and the internet". It is interesting to compare that to the 1994 version's tagline "the complete multimedia encyclopedia". Here is a table showing the content and media changes between the 1994, 2005, and 2006 versions.

Feature/Version 2006 Standard 2006 Premium 2005 Premium 1994
Articles 50’000+ 68’000 68'000 26'000
Photos & Illustrations 12’000+ 25’000+ 25’000+ 7'000
Videos & Animations 55 300+ 300+ 100+
Sound & Music Clips 1’000+ 2’500+ 2'500 8 hours
Map Locations 36’000 1,8 Million 1,8 Million 800
Links to Web Sites 29’000+ 29’000+ 29’000+ none

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Microsoft Encarta 2006

Encarta 2006 boxshot

Microsoft Encarta 2006 is coming soon. Early indications shows the following two new features:

New! Web Companion
Shows trusted content search results from most any search engine without launching any additional applications. Encarta content is provide alongside the search results, so users can choose which information better suits their needs.

New! User Interface
Find the content and resources you need quickly and easily. You can sort the information by relevancy or group results by type such as by article or media.

So it is continuing the trend of incremental changes.

Microsoft Student 2006 info

Now that I'm in the education field, I'm looking forward to Microsoft's new product "Microsoft Student 2006". Think of it as Encarta plus homework templates plus a graphing calculator.

Here's information from

Microsoft Student 2006 (Shipping Early July)

Microsoft Student 2006 is a new tool designed to make doing homework--long a source of mental anguish for students--less about headaches and more about learning. It is a cross between Microsoft's online Encyclopedia Encarta, a customizable search engine, and its Office productivity suite--geared specifically to the needs of students.

Features include:

Learning Essentials
Provides tools, templates and tutorials for the application students use most, like Microsoft Office (MS Word, Excel & PowerPoint), to help students create high quality reports and presentations. (Requires Office XP, Office 2003 or Office Student & Teacher 2003).

Graphing/Scientific Calculator Software
Full-feature graphing calculator helps students visualize and solve math and science problems.

Web Companion
Provides editorially approved content without launching additional applications when students search for information on the Internet.

Online Math Homework Help
Step-by-step tutorials help students solve math questions representing specific problems taken directly from popular math textbooks used in schools.

Encarta Encyclopedia
With smart searching, students can instantly find rich, reliable, and up-to-date content on practically any subject.