Thursday, October 26, 2006

O-Matrix sets Kalman Filter tool free

Previously costing a little over $100 the O-Matrix add on "Kalman Filter Design Studio" is now available to O-Matrix users as a free download from here.

Presumably they were not selling many of them.

There is no comment on the site about the strategy of releasing it, so we will have wait to see if any of the other seven O-Matrix add-ons share the same future.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Site comment

Warning: No real news in this post.

You might notice a new bit of Amazon advertising on the site. My grand ambition is that writing a piece for this site, might one day pay as much as spending the same time flipping burgers for McDonalds!

It's got quite a way to go, but I am committed to keeping adverts small and discrete, as I am really more interested in the computing news.

However, since (unlike Google) Amazon's conditions allow me to draw your attention to the advert, I would encourage you to go click on the link and go shopping as I get a little kick-back if you do. Unfortunately, unlike Google adverts, it only happens if you actually spend money.

In other site news- the release of the Firefox 2.0 browser today, with built in spell checking for forms input, should see an end to the bad spelling on this site, though probably not bad bad grammar. The authoring interface is pretty good, but lacks spell checking.

Interestingly, in this first post using the new Firefox, I see that the spell checker highlights Firefox as misspelled!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Yet another version of Maple 10

Disregarding my comments on Maple 10.05 being too many maintenance releases on a product, Maplesoft have released yet another in under two months - Maple 10.06.

As before the bug fixes are again interface related...

  • Scrolling behavior when inserting output near the end of a document
  • Palettes, including constructing higher-order derivatives and choosing insertion points
  • Export to RTF, HTML and LaTeX
  • Removing output from a selection
But here is the fun part... If you recall, 10.05 was only available to subscribers to the EMP maintenance program. This version is available to all, but on the Maplesoft website we read "Elite Maintenace Plan (EMP) customers only, please note: Maple 10.06 does NOT include all updates from Maple 10.05. You must install Maple 10.05 before installing Maple 10.06".

So it seems that if you have EMP you can have it all, but if not you can have the 10.06 fixes but not the 10.05 fixes. It doesn't say whether you need to have already picked up the 10.01-10.04 updates. And it is not clear whether the users of the Japanese version get the 10.05 fixes, as there was no 10.05 for the Japanese version, but there is a 10.06.

So now they have lots of different branches of code to support in the wild- this puts a huge demand on testing.

So it is not surprising to read comments on VersionTracker and the Maple user group that there are quality problems with this update with several people saying that installing the update destroyed their copy of Maple.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Mathworks doesn't announce Matlab release 2006b

Mathworks seem to have somewhat lost interest in their core products.

This week I read a Mathworks news item on another expensive link product (well I think $2000 to connect Matlab more easily to Altium’s TASKING Compiler is expensive). In light of the other links that I discussed recently, this seems like a general strategy.

But I, understandably, managed to miss a new release of their flagship products. This is because Release 2006b of the Matlab/Simulink family has again been slipped out without making it to their news page. Like the 2006a release, the new biannual release cycle has not produced anything too exciting, so perhaps this is the reason.

The headline "New capabilities" for Matlab are listed as
  • Additional support for large data set handling in MATLAB
  • MATLAB application deployment to Java™
  • Distributed computing tools supporting Windows® Compute Cluster Server 2003, distributed arrays, and parallel math functions
  • Graphical interface for defining and solving optimization problems
But when you dig down, there is less to it than meets the eye. "Additional support for large data set handling" sounded exciting but the details turn out to be:
  • Elimination of temporary memory copies when calling M-file functions and some built-in functions in-place (i.e., x = myfunction(x)) for easier handling of large data sets and improve performance
  • Ability to read and write MAT-files greater than 2 GB on 64-bit platforms via new switches to the save function
  • Ability to view larger arrays in Array Editor
  • Full JIT/Accelerator support for 64-bit platforms, allowing faster code execution
IE removal of some internal limitations and finishing previous partial implementations of 64 bit addressing. Just maintenance issues really. Read the full lists in minute detail here.

So putting the two topics together it looks like Mathworks are currently focused on finding more things to sell to their user base by solving some system integration problems, than adding new core functionality to their main products.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Why no news?

I have been a bit quiet lately, and human nature being what it is, I would like to lay the blame on someone else.

For this purpose, I will pick on the inactivity of Design Science, makers of MathType! While I am the first to criticize vacuous press releases, it is extraordinary that a company can find nothing new to say about itself in over a year. The last release they put out according to their news page was 10 August 2005, to announce that the NSF had given them some money.

Not far behind are Systat, who still have a 2003 item on their "Recent news" ticker. To be fair they have announced two things this year, but they are both about the Korean translation of Systat, so I hope the 72M Koreans will forgive me for suggesting that that isn't of general interest!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Upgraded toolboxes for Matlab and Mathematica

This week sees upgrades to some of the toolboxes available from Mathworks and Wolfram Research.

From Mathworks comes Control System Toolbox 7, Simulink Control Design 2, and Simulink Response Optimization 3. The common theme of these upgrades is to reduce some of the barriers between them and Simulink.

Wolfram's upgrade is a new version of Mathematica Link for Excel, which adds control of Excel from within Mathematica (putting and getting spreadsheet regions) and typeset expressions in Excel, to their existing tools for calling Mathematica as a set of macros from Excel.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Geometry Expressions for Mathematica

Yet another third party add-on for Mathematica this week- Geometry Expressions.

This educational tool describes itself as "An Interactive Symbolic Geometry Companion to Mathematica". It looks essentially like Cabri Geometry but with the advantage of symbolic formulas for the solutions to the geometry problems.

Looking at the author company's background that is not surprising, since they have previously created geometry software for HP and Casio calculators and so would have been up against TI's geometry tools for years.