Cool browser keyboard shortcuts

Hey, are you one of those people who still types the complete URL of every website they visit? Well, stop doing that and use the following shortcuts.

For instance, if you type qnx in your browser address field, then press <Ctrl>-<Enter>, your browser will immediately go to:


Firefox provides extensions to this shortcut to help you jump to .org and .net sites. For instance, if you type ngconnect, then press <Ctrl>-<Shift>-<Enter>, you get:


And if you type sourceforge, then press <Shift>-<Enter>, you get:


In this case, the actual URL is http://sourceforge.net, but the resolution is handled automatically.

These shortcuts provide a nice complement to the automatic URL completion that most browsers now support.

How about you? Do you have any browser shortcuts that you'd like to share?


QNX circa 1999


Totally random skill sets

  • So fast, he needs two bassists to keep up
  • How to make really thin glass pipes (don't try this at home)
  • How not to behave when the camera crew shows up


Totally random

  • From the information superhighway to your local highway
  • Put a tiger bunny in your tank
  • Let's see: I've 3 million Lego bricks, some spare time, and a degree in architecture. Hm....


Dataweek honors QNX fastboot technology with product of the year award

This just in: Dataweek magazine has unveiled its product of the year awards, and QNX fastboot technology is one of the winners.

If you aren't familiar with QNX fastboot technology, it allows x86 systems, including those based on the Intel Atom, to boot wicked fast. Often in a second or less.

This isn't the first time QNX fastboot technology has taken home top honors. A year ago, it received a "Most Innovative Software for the Intel Atom Processor” award from Intel.

A picture, or should I say a video, is worth a thousand words, so I invite you to check out the fastboot demos that I've posted on this blog:
Once you've finished viewing the talkies, download this whitepaper or simply view this article on Automotive DesignLine to take a peak under the hood of this technology.

For the complete list of Dataweek winners, click here.

To view all my blog posts on QNX fastboot technology, click here.


LTE Connected Car: The media's take

I've noticed something: Whenever I discuss the LTE Connected Car, I focus on all the cool stuff that the car can access from the Cloud. But really, that's only part of the story.

For instance, in his coverage of the LTE Connected Car, WIRED blogger Eliot Van Buskirk focuses on the information that the car can upload to the Cloud — information that other cars can then take advantage of. In effect, each car becomes a sensor, helping other cars to avoid traffic jams, alerting road crews to potholes, and providing, in Van Buskirk's words, "a crowdsourced version of what traffic helicopters do today."

So, in the interest of offering you a more complete (and less unidirectional!) discussion of this story, here is what WIRED and a number of other notable publications are saying about the LTE Connected Car:
For even more media coverage on the LTE Connected Car, click here.


LTE Connected Car: Zooming in on the virtual mechanic

Yesterday, I took you on a tour of some applications in the LTE Connected Car. One app that I mentioned, but didn't provide images for, is the virtual mechanic.

Before we go any further, let's get something out of the way: The virtual mechanic won't fix your car for you. You'll still need a flesh-and-bones grease monkey to do that. That said, the virtual mechanic can tell you when things are going south and help you take appropriate action — before the problem escalates.

Low oil pressure... yikes!

The virtual mechanic gets OBD-II codes from the vehicle bus to display the status of your brakes, tires, power train, electrical systems, fluids, and so on. In this case, it's telling me that the engine oil pressure is low:

Click to enlarge.

What to do? Well, I'm a Major General in the army of the mechanically challenged, so I immediately tap the fuel pump icon at the bottom of the screen to display a map of local service stations:

Alternately, I could tap on the dealership icon (Toyota, in this case) and find directions to the nearest, well, dealership:

The virtual mechanic lets you zoom in on specific systems. For instance, in the following screen, I've just asked it to show me where to add brake fluid. (You think I'd be more worried about the low washer-fluid warning, but did I mention I'm mechanically challenged?)

The virtual mechanic is a component of the QNX CAR application platform, which provides most of the software for the LTE Connected Car.


Screenshots: Putting the LTE Connected Car into focus

I posted some photos of the LTE Connected Car yesterday, but they weren't all that sharp. As a result, everyone had to squinch their eyes really hard to make out what was going on. So, for the promotion of good eye health everywhere, here are some nice, crisp screen captures of the car's user interface.

At first glance, some of these images might appear a bit soft, but if you click on 'em, you'll definitely see the bigger (and sharper) picture.

Vehicle diagnostics
First up is the main screen for accessing vehicle diagnostics. Note the Virtual Mechanic app (upper right), which gets OBD-II trouble codes from the vehicle bus and displays them in an interactive graphic. By simply tapping on the graphic, the driver can zoom in on areas of concern or find the closest dealership:

Click to enlarge.

Google local search
Next up is Google local search, which displays local points of interest (POIs) to help drivers and passengers find nearby restaurants, gas stations, movie theaters, parks, ATMs, hospitals, and so on. Note that the system would fetch these POIs from a Cloud-based database that is continually refreshed with new data, rather than from a DVD that can go quickly out of date:

Home monitoring and control
Forgot to engage the burglar alarm before you left for the cottage? Want to see if Muffy is chewing the sofa again? This home automation app is just the ticket:

Pandora Internet radio
And for those who prefer to listen to what they like, and nothing else, the car also comes with a Pandora app:

This is just a sampling of the many applications in the LTE Connected Car. For additional screenshots from the car, click here, and for screenshots of other in-car applications based on the QNX CAR application platform, click here. (As mentioned in my post yesterday, the QNX CAR platform provides the runtime environment for all of the apps in the LTE Connected Car.)

Look ma, no wires: The making of the ng Connect LTE Connected Car

Hey, have you ever watched any of those "making of" videos that take you behind the scenes to show how a movie was made? Don't know about you, but they typically ruin the movie for me.

For instance, I loved "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" when it first came out. But, stupid me, I made the mistake of watching a video that shows how wires created the illusion that the movie's actors were flying through the air as they kicked serious butt. From then on, the movie never held the same magic for me.

Well, here is one "making of" video that won't spoil your fun. It's definitely promotional in nature, but it captures some of the real enthusiasm behind the Connected Car project. But here's the best part: With the Connected Car, the magic happens without any wires. It's all about what happens when a fat wireless pipe based on 4G/LTE transforms the car into what QNX CEO Dan Dodge calls "a first-class citizen of the Cloud."

Enough blather. Roll the film:


A look inside the ng Connect LTE Connected Car

Yeah, I know: "ng Connect LTE Connected Car" sounds a little repetitious. But the emphasis on connectivity is apropos. This concept car, a joint project of QNX and Alcatel-Lucent, is all about exploring what happens when you connect cars to 4G/LTE wireless broadband networks.

Take, for example, voice recognition in the car. Today, it’s a relatively primitive affair, using grammars and speech models limited by onboard processing and storage. But once you add a reliable, high-speed pipe like LTE, the car’s infotainment unit can use a sophisticated, server-based system that lets the driver use natural language. Suddenly, ease of use goes up and driver distraction goes down.

This is but one small example. Other in-car applications could include:
  • on-demand movies, streamed or downloaded
  • access to personally recorded TV programs via Cloud storage
  • in-vehicle Internet radio and on-demand music stores
  • multi-player online gaming
  • remote control of home systems: security, climate control, lighting, etc.
  • a Wi-Fi hotspot that allows personal devices to connect to the Cloud
  • GPS navigation augmented by Google Maps point-of-interest indicators
When people see the Connected Car, the first thing they ask is, "So, when can I get one?". But that's not the point. The Connected Car is, in fact, a proving ground for next-generation automotive apps. QNX and Alcatel-Lucent created it to ensure that, when LTE networks become pervasive 2 to 4 years from now, automakers will be ready to deliver applications that take full advantage of this broadband technology.

Guided tour

Enough background. Let's take a look at the car itself.

The first thing you notice is that it contains 4 screens, two in front and two in back. These all operate independently, allowing each car occupant to interact with their own applications and content. In fact, each screen can remember a user's preferences and settings — the idea is to deliver a user experience that isn't only connected, but personalized as well.

For example:

Driver screen — Access to advanced navigation, vehicle diagnostics, hands-free communication, and other driver-centric services:

Front passenger screen — Access to home control, "myPVR", and other applications:

Backseat screens — Access to on-demand video, gaming, social networking, and a full range of other services:

QNX Software Systems provided the software foundation for all the infotainment systems in the Connected Car. This includes the operating system, touchscreen user interfaces, streaming media players for YouTube and Pandora, navigation system with Google local search, Bluetooth and portable device connectivity, multimedia playback, handsfree integration, climate controls, Adobe Flash games, application store technology, and a virtual mechanic. All components are based on the company’s QNX CAR application platform.

Atlantic Records, chumby, Kabillion also contributed applications to the Connected Car.

For details on the Connected Car project, check out the ng Connect website.

I'll report more on this project in the coming days and weeks.