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Monday, December 31, 2007

Tokyo Traffic Control in pictures

Gizmodo has a few pics of the impressive traffic control centre in Tokyo, Japan. It's something right out of the movies! According to their post, "Cameras, helicopters, 17,000 vehicle detectors, as well as reports from both police and civilians, all contribute towards a harmonious transport system." Cool!

What is your video game of the year?

The BBC has asked a number of experts for their picks for video game of the year and with 4 of them weighing in there appears to be no clear cut winner. It just goes to show that our video game preferences are a varied as our book or movie choices, there will be big blockbusters but we all have our favorite genres. For me there are a couple of titles that stand out, one of which was not even mentioned on the BBC's list. I'd have to give the title to Guitar Hero III but Halo 3 and The Orange Box are not far behind... how about you?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

No iPod for you!

A little girl in Germantown, Md. got what she thought was an iPod for Christmas but instead opened the box to find a bizarre note. The note read "Reclaim your mind from the media shackles. Read a book and resurrect yourself. To claim your capitalistic garbage go to your nearest Apple Store." The manager of the Walmart store where the device was purchased told the girls father that another customer returned an iPod with a similar issue. MYFox Washington has the story.

Snowbank fetches Quebec man $3,550 on eBay

The Globe and Mail is reporting that Michel Levesque of Saint-Eustache, a town north of Montreal, has fetched $3,550 in an eBay auction for his "snowbank" that he set up as a joke after a pre-Christmas storm left the area buried in snow. Levesque does not know if the winning bidder, also from Quebec, will actually come through with the cash but has stated he will donate the money to a local youth organization if he gets paid. The Globe says "But since the pile was posted on Dec. 21, the prank snowballed."

Saturday, December 29, 2007

YouTubes big hits of 2007

YouTube used criteria such as the 'most shared, most discussed, top rated and general popularity" to determine it's list of clips that people were thinking and talking about most and released the results on Thursday. The most viewed clip " Battle at Kruger" was viewed more than 21 million times! Others include the Obama Girl video and Leave Britney Alone with 4 million and 14 million respectively. With classics like these, who needs TV? The Globe and Mail has more.

Google Zeitgeist 2007

Google has released the top search terms for 2007 in it's annual Zeitgeist. The top ten list depicts the fastest raising terms and the fastest falling terms from those popular in 2006. It never ceases to amaze me why terms like Facebook, YouTube, and Club Penguin make the list... isn't it easier just to add a dot com to the end of these in the address bar? or is it that people are actually searching for news or other stories about these sites? I guess I just don't get it... then again we all use search engines differently.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Netscape Navigator comes to an end

The BBC News is reporting that AOL will cease support of Netscape Navigator as of February 1, 2008. The browser once owned 90% of the web market, but numbers have dropped to just 0.6% in recent polls. "While internal groups within AOL have invested a great deal of time and energy in attempting to revive Netscape Navigator, these efforts have not been successful in gaining market share from Microsoft's Internet Explorer," said Tom Drapeau on the company's blog. It was certainly my choice of browser when I first found my way onto the net, but I abandoned it for Internet Explorer myself, only to abandon IE for Firefox.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Gamers see promise in writer's strike

There is an old saying that goes something like this... "it's an ill wind that doesn't blow someone some good" and the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences is feeling something like that with respect to the current writer's strike. According to the Globe and Mail, Joseph Olin, president of the Academy is quoted as saying "If you're a fan of network programming, maybe seeing another repeat of ‘Pushing Daisies' or ‘Cold Case' will inspire you to finish that level of ‘Ratchet and Clank Future' instead". The relationship between gamers and writers has been a bit rocky in the past, as The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists both voted to strike against game publishers over compensation for voice talent, two years ago. "My hope is that people who are used to watching new programming on TV discover gaming as an entertainment alternative," says Dan Connors, CEO of Telltale Games. "Obviously, it will have to be a pretty prolonged strike for that to happen, but I think it's a definite possibility."

Blogging for business and personal promotion

Here is an interesting NY Times article that discusses the virtues of blogging to promote your business or yourself. There's not anything terribly new here, but it's an interesting read all the same.

With Clarity Comes Charity

Here is the heart warming tale of Tom Williams, who at 25 had the world at his feet with a six-figure-income and a dream job at Apple, only to brush it all aside to find more meaning in his life. The Globe and Mail tells the story of Williams, a teen aged whizkid who left his British Columbia home for Silicon Valley at age 15 only to return 10 years later burned out and questioning life. Williams decided to put his skills to use to shake up the charity industry and created GiveMeaning.com. “The big charities are continuing to get a disproportionately large amount of donor dollars and the smaller organizations who are sometimes doing grassroots work in communities across the country, and other ones, are starved for cash, having to literally consider shutting down their operations,” said Williams. The site is all about giving and Williams says 100 cents of every dollar goes to the project you sponsor. It's not about big business giving large amounts, but rather the average citizen contributing what they can to causes large and small. It's a great story in time for Christmas...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

NYPD tests electric scooters

CNN is reporting that the New York Police Department is road testing an electric scooter for use by officers on certain beats. "Police effectiveness comes first, but where we can combine environmentally friendly vehicles without compromising the mission, we do," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. The Vectrix scooter tops out at more than 60 mph and is recharged by plugging in to a standard outlet for two hours. The electric motor also affords the police with the element of surprise as it is apparently very quiet.

Universities utilizing social sites

It's time to start the recruitment drive for next year and Canadian Universities are finding the social networking sites to be a good place to start. “We are on Facebook because our incoming students kept asking us, ‘Why are you not on Facebook?' ” explained Bailey Daniels, assistant director of MBA recruitment and admissions at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, in this Globe and Mail story. Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick has existing students who work closely with the school's admissions staff and besides operating a Facebook group, there are student-produced YouTube videos and blogs, all commissioned and paid for by the university.

This is quite possibly the best quote from the article: “The ongoing challenge for any university is that there is a massive generation gap between the people that do recruiting and the people you are recruiting,” said Rob Steiner, assistant vice-president of strategic communications at the University of Toronto. “Every recruiting team and every marketing team is trying to find a way to stay on top of this stuff.”

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Companies embrace e-greetings this Christmas

According to this NY Times article, corporate America is embracing technology and abandoning paper greeting cards this year. The move comes about because the e-greetings are said to be "cheaper, greener and more versatile than traditional cards". While some find the ease of generating an e-greeting appealing it seems that their are still those who expect the personal touch and some experts are suggesting that you be careful in your selection, especially when you are sending seasons greetings to paying customers. I for one prefer the e-version but then again I'm a geek!

Ten Startups to watch in 2008

As the year winds down, Wired brings us a top ten list of Startups to watch over the next year. Though some of these companies have been around for a while, it seems the list represents those that the Wired folk think will make big moves over the next 12 months. From VOIP to DNA, there are plenty of buzz words and lots of Venture Capital funding represented. My money is on 37Signals, I've always been fond of their keep it simple attitude and I like the fact that they have kept things modest... and I'm a fan of Basecamp!

Monday, December 24, 2007

NORAD keeps tabs on Santa

It's been a few years since my children have followed Santa's global trek, but if you have young ones who are anxiously awaiting a visit from the spry old elf you might want to fire up this link. The good people at NORAD (North American Air Defense) keep an eye on Santa and according to them he's currently located at Mahajanga, Madagascar. If your little tykes want to speak to a NORAD Santa tracker in person they can call 1 (877) Hi NORAD or 1 (877) 446-6723. By e-mail they can be reached at noradtrackssanta@gmail.com

Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Are we there yet!

This Disney animation from 1958 is a great look into our past and what the visionaries of the time thought life would be like. It's interesting to see how some of the ideas have become reality, more or less, while others were really far off the mark! Credit to Laughing Squid for this find.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Queen Elizabeth creates her own YouTube channel

Buckingham Palace has created a special Royal Channel on YouTube to which archived video of the Queen is being posted and over which the Queen's 50th Christmas address to her nation and the colonies will be delivered. According to The Globe and Mail, the palace said, “She has always been aware of reaching more people and adapting the communication to suit. This will make the Christmas message more accessible to younger people and those in other countries.”

I recall watching the Queen's addresses as a child but have not viewed one in years... perhaps this year I'll check out the 50th online.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

FBI building a billion dollar biometric database

According to Reuters the FBI is about to award a 10 year contract for the building of a billion dollar database comprised of digital images of faces, fingerprints and palm patterns. "If successful, the system, called Next Generation Identification, will collect the biometric information in one place for identification and forensic purposes". This sounds a little big brother like; no matter how you spin it...

Wirelessly upload your digital images without a Wi-Fi enabled camera!

Here's a handy little package that turns your digital camera (if it accepts an SD card) into a Wi-Fi enabled cam. According to their website, "The Eye-Fi Card comes with everything needed to make it simple to set up and connect to your home Wi-Fi network. After that, pop the card into your digital camera and start capturing those memories. It stores pictures like a regular SD card no matter where you are, and uploads your photos automatically as soon as you return to your home network. All you have to do is turn the camera on." At $100 for a 2 GB card it's a little pricey, but a lot less pricey than springing for a new digital camera! I'm interested in hearing from anyone who's actually purchased this little guy... as it's moving to the top of my "gadgets to purchase" list.

Twilight Zone pinball promo courtesy of YouTube

You have got to love YouTube... no wonder it's the most popular video site on the net! This is a neat find!

Friday, December 21, 2007

EA blamed for Christmas without Rock Band

Electronic Arts (EA) is feeling the heat over the absence of the full version of Rock Band from Canadian retail shelves. The highly anticipated game title which was released State side last month was delayed several times here in Canada but was supposed to hit store shelves on Thursday. Our local Future Shop has told us that it would not receive any until the 28th and according to an EA spokesperson "Demand has been incredibly strong in the U.S. and Canada and we're shipping Rock Band to retailers as quickly as we can make them, but we suggest lining up early if you want to get one in time for the holidays,". The CBC has more here...

Apple silences rumor site

The New York Times today is reporting that Apple and Mac rumor site Think Secret have come to terms and site operator Nicholas M. Ciarelli, a Harvard senior, has agreed to stop publishing. In a telephone interview Ciarelli told the Times “We’ve been able to reach a positive solution,” but the terms of the deal were not revealed. The deal ends a lengthy battle between Apple and Think Secret, as well as other rumor sites that brought into question whether or not independent web publishers should be afforded the same rights as traditional journalists. Ciarelli says “Speaking more broadly, I think online journalists can feel confident that they can assert their First Amendment rights, even when they run up against large corporations.” If I had to speculate, I'd say he's being paid to keep quiet... can't say that I blame him, I was a student once.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tis the season to reflect on that which did not materialize

Wired takes a look at the promise that was 2007, and the products that did not materialize in it's annual top ten list of vaporware. From Guns N' Roses albums to perpetual motion machines, the list is impressive... Unfortunately for game fans, Spore is on the list! I for one have been waiting patiently for that release.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Go West young programmer!

According to this CBC news post, Alberta companies are having a difficult time filling IT positions as demand soars and schools are producing fewer grads. The article points out that demand has nearly doubled in the past year while "Last year, 95 students graduated from the Computer Systems Technology program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, compared to 320 in 2001."

Google checks your flight status


Traveling this holiday season? Want to know if your flight is on time? Google has just introduced a new feature which allows you to enter your carrier and their flight number as a search query, and returns the status of the flight. One more reason to love Google!

PS. I'll be traveling in a couple of weeks and will definitely put this to the test... will let you know how accurate they are.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Vital signs collected and transmitted by your cellphone!

Researchers in Edmonton, Alberta are teaming up with cellphone maker LG Electronics to test a new device that can detect a patients temperature, pulse, and blood pressure and transmit the data via cellphone. Plans are to build the device into a cellphone and include further vital signs such as glucose levels and other blood chemistry readings. According to the CBC, "the device could help people with conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, that require frequent home-care monitoring, as well as seniors or patients who live in rural areas." The Province of Alberta is committing $1.5 million to the joint project by LG, Capital Health and the University of Alberta. It just makes good sense to collect this data at home using a single device and the infrastructure that is now in place to support it. The only negative that I see in the remote monitoring of patients is the inability to see physical changes in those being monitored, in particular the elderly. I'm sure regular visits to or by a health professional are also part of the program, it would be a mistake to rely completely on the technology... in my mind.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Arthur C. Clarke - on turning 90

Sir Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and countless others, has turned 90. Born December 16, 1917 Clarke is the last surviving member of the "Big Three" of science fiction which also included Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. In a birthday message to all of his fans, Clarke has recorded a short video to reflect on his time on Earth and what he'd like to see while he's still around.

Plenty of buzz about Ribbit

The RSS feeds are full of stories touting the release of details of Ribbit this morning. The start-up has developed a telephony switch that can connect Web-based phone calls to a variety of phone networks, including VoIP services like Skype. According to CNet's News.com "developers can access those voice services through Flex-based application programming interfaces (APIs) and with Adobe Systems' Flash browser plug-in." The company has recently scored a round B venture capital financing deal worth a reported $10 million, this on top of a $3 million injection in 2006. The Flash based interface is very interesting as many mobile devices support Flash.

Have you ever Googled yourself?

A report released on Sunday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, says 47% of American adult Internet users have used Google or another search engine to looked for information about themselves. The number is over double what it was when a similar study was conducted in 2002. According to Wired, "Americans under 50 and those with more education and income were more likely to self-Google - in some cases because their jobs demand a certain online persona" and "53 percent of adult Internet users admit to looking up information about someone else, celebrities excluded." Well, if you haven't already done so... perhaps you should just go Google yourself!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Asimo demo video shows robots working together

Here's an interesting look at the new Asimo working together to complete tasks and avoiding collisions with humans, they still look a little awkward and deliberate but impressive none the less.


Business being told to resist social networkings temptation without careful thought

Gartner analysts are warning companies to think carefully about employing social networking systems regardless of the temptations to do so. With FaceBook and LinkedIn both making moves to make their systems available, a Gartner report says "the hype around social networking doesn't necessarily mean it's a mature enough technology to make it a critical business requirement" according to CNet's News.com. It is suggested that the value from these systems is actually in the content and not the delivery mechanism which is fairly obvious, in my mind...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Canada Post, Police seek "rogue elf"!

As long as I can remember Canada post has been accepting letters to Santa at the special postal code - H0H 0H0. Youngsters from all over can write to Santa and receive a response courtesy of one of thousands of volunteers. This year however, the program has had to be shut down in Ottawa as at least 10 nasty letters had been delivered to unsuspecting children. "We firmly believe there is just one rogue elf out there," a Canada Post spokeswoman told the Ottawa Citizen!

Google testing Adsense Review Center

In a move aimed at giving publishers more control over the ads that they display on their sites, Google is testing a new system called "Adsense Review Center". On the Inside AdSense blog Google says this of the service, "... will allow you to review ads placement-targeted to your site and ensure those ads are relevant to your site's users... If you think an ad is not relevant for your users, you can prevent it from appearing again by blocking it in the Ad Review Center." As an AdSense user I think this is great, I'm not always thrilled with the ads that are placed on the site and until now had no choice but to allow them to filter through or stop participating in the program. I'm certainly not ready to quit the day job by any means, but may AdSense allow me to feed my geek habits a bit and I don't think it detracts from the blog?

RIM opens BlackBerry Store

Research In Motion has opened it's first BlackBerry branded store in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The Waterloo Ontario based cellphone producers plans to sell BlackBerry handsets, accessories and software, as well as service plans from all the major U.S. providers. The move is not unique to the industry but it's a growing trend that has the providers taking notice. "If you're Verizon and you're carrying the BlackBerry today, when you see one of these exclusive stores, obviously you're not going to be too thrilled about that," said retail consultant David Ian Gray in a National Post interview. According to the CBC "RIM is said to be earning around $10 per BlackBerry customer from Canadian cellphone providers" perhaps this is why the move was made in the US and not home in Canada?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Google's knol project - "a way to help people share their knowledge"

The official Google blog has an interesting post about a new project that Google is calling "knol" which according to them "stands for a unit of knowledge". The idea is to identify the author of content much like a book has the author's name on it's cover. My impression is that it is a lot like Mahalo in some ways. "We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content. At the heart, a knol is just a web page; we use the word "knol" as the name of the project and as an instance of an article interchangeably. It is well-organized, nicely presented, and has a distinct look and feel, but it is still just a web page. Google will provide easy-to-use tools for writing, editing, and so on, and it will provide free hosting of the content. Writers only need to write; we'll do the rest."

The trouble with the web has always been that you have to be careful of what/who you choose to trust as a reliable source of information, these types of projects may help us to determine "the wheat from the chaff"! I for one will be interested to see how reliable the sources turn out to be. The project is currently by invitation only so you can't give it a try just yet, unless of course you were invited.

Board Game roundup, for geeks!

It's a well known fact that geeks like games, and not just video games! Wired has prepared a great list of 10 popular board games, just in time for last minute shopper for the geek on your list. You won't find Monopoly or Risk on this list and with titles like "The Settlers of Catan", "RoboRally", and "BattleLore" you might get some strange looks from the stock boy at Walmart! I'd suggest your local independent toy store or hobby shop!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Canadian television content hits iTunes Store

The CBC is reporting that Apple Inc. is launching the sales of "Little Mosque on the Prairie, The Rick Mercer Report and Corner Gas, as well as complete NHL hockey games." The cost to download is reported to be $1.99, assume that's Canadian dollars ;-). The video marketplace looks to be heating up here as this comes on the heals of Microsoft's launch of an Xbox Live video rental service and the recent announcement of TiVo's move into Canada. It's a long winter but it looks like there will be plenty of reruns to watch!

$85,000 Cellphone bill in a little over a month!

A 22 year old Calgary, Alberta man got the surprise of a lifetime when he found out that he owed Bell Mobility $85,000 in data charges on his new cellphone plan! The Globe and Mail has this story which highlights the need to read the fine print... it seems that Piotr Staniaszek believed he could use his cellphone as a modem with his $10 a month unlimited mobile browser plan when in fact he was being charged by the kilobyte. Bell offered to reduce his bill to $3,243 which reflects the rate that he would have to pay under the terms of their best data plan but Mr. Staniaszek has decided to fight the charge. That's a heck of a lot of bit torrents! Interestingly an unlimited data plan from US carrier Sprint Nextel Corp. would cost about $70.19 a month according to the article.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Asimo times two - smarter and working in pairs

Honda has made some strides in the technology in it's robot Asimo. The latest version works well with others, in fact they are designed to work with other robots allowing them to perform tasks in coordination with one another. According to this CNN article, "The 51-inch tall Asimo is "smarter" now, thanks to upgrades that allow it to do more tasks without human help, the company said. The robot can, for example, recognize drink choices and carry a tray with the requested drink to the person who placed the order."

I listened to Buzz Out Loud 621 today and Tom and Molly covered this story, it was interesting to hear the banter that in sued regarding the "creepiness" of robots doing these everyday tasks. I for one would love to have a house full of them, they can vacuum my carpets, mow my lawn, and serve me tea; I won't complain!

New Halo 3 Maps available through XBox Live

As of yesterday there is plenty more to love about Halo 3! According to this Wired Blog post, "For $10, Xbox Live members can download three brand-new areas called Standoff, Rat's Nest and Foundry." If $10 is too much to spend on a couple of extra maps, and you have the patience of a saint, then you might consider waiting for the next map pack to be released as Microsoft says this map pack will become free when the next one is released sometime in the spring. If you'd like to see what your $10 will buy you... Red vs. Blue has put together an interesting tour of the maps, highlighting the new features and offering a few chuckles along the way.


Rogers inserting it's own messages into pages you are viewing

Canadian cable giant and ISP (Internet Service Provider), Rogers, is testing a system that enables it to inject messages to Rogers subscribers regarding their bandwidth usage. The company offers a tiered service with different bandwidth limits, the messages are meant to inform subscribers when they are nearing their limit. The move is setting off alarm bells with net neutrality advocates as the potential for using such technology for other purposes is very real. According to ArsTechnica, a Rogers spokesperson says "This is a trial to make it easier for our customers to keep track of usage. There is no deep package inspection and there is no privacy issue."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Japanese cellphone maker targets kids & parents with alarm and phone home features

Japanese cellphone maker NTT DoCoMo has developed a cellphone that features an alarm and location identification that will alert a parent, or whomever, that a child is in trouble and will forward the location of the phone via messaging. According to the CBC "The FOMA F801i produces two types of alternating noises when its alarm function is switched on, as well as emitting a bright light that is visible to nearby onlookers. The phone can be set to notify loved ones when the alarm is set off, as well as provide the handset's location, DoCoMo said Monday." It appears as though there are mixed feelings about such a device in Japan... one reviewer asks "Are you seriously thinking of the well-being of our kids, like my daughter, with this kind of product, or are you just trying hard to generate more money..."

NASA delays Atlantis launch until at least Jan. 2

A flight that was to begin on Thursday, for the crew of Atlantis, and then postponed until Sunday has now been pushed back until January 2nd and perhaps later. According to the New York Times, "one of four critical sensors in the liquid hydrogen section of the external tank malfunctioned during early morning fueling." The folks at Kennedy Space Center will attempt to make repairs on the launch pad but if it becomes necessary to roll Atlantis off the pad the delay could extend to later in January.

While I'm sure this is disappointing news for the mission crew, it opens up a whole new opportunity for my family during our vacation. We are arriving in Orlando on New Years Eve and plan on spending a week at Disney. The one thing that I've maintained would get me off of the resort is a shuttle launch! Perhaps we'll have a chance to experience the Atlantis launch in person, talk about your geek dream vacation!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

eBay Exposes America's Pop Culture Obsessions in 2007

eBay has compiled a list of items that it says gauges where America's interest lays in 2007! With sales numbers to back it up, the online auction site is offering it's insight into where America's attention was over the past year. In the hard to get tech category eBay says:

"Despite the iPhone frenzy that swept the nation this year, Apple's iPod remained the number-one gadget on eBay, with 2,781,243 iPod-related items sold. There were 532,390 Nintendo Wii-related items sold, followed by 272,852 Sony PlayStation 3-related items and 158,132 Apple iPhone-related items. Additionally, 96,508 Guitar Hero-related items were sold, 63,851 Microsoft Xbox 360-related items were sold and 50,182 Halo 3-related items were sold."

Here's the complete list in eBay's press release.

Ontario issues new drivers licenses, hope is that they will be accepted at the border

The Ontario government has begun issuing new drivers licenses with high tech features that they hope will cut down on identity theft and be accepted for entry into the US in lieu of a passport. According to the Globe and Mail, "Some of the new security features include a second photo on the front of the card, raised lettering of the number on the licence, signature and date of birth, a fine-line background, a barcode, and ultraviolet features." and "The card conforms with new standards developed by the American Association of Motor Transport Administrators." Transportation Minister Jim Bradley says that New York State, Washington, Michigan, Vermont, Manitoba and British Columbia are all interested in introducing similar licences.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

From the wtf department!!!

I really like this... but wtf Microsoft?


Thanks to TechCrunch for this one.

Another failed X-Wing launch

Wired brings us yet another failed attempt to launch an X-Wing fighter! It would seem that crazed Star Wars fans have nothing better to do with their money, as this is not the first attempt we've seen on YouTube. "Amateur rocketeer Andy Woerner led the 2,500-hour, $7,000 effort to get the thing airborne. His 40-person crew of doctors, mail carriers, construction workers, and other Star Wars obsessives labored without a blueprint, guided mainly by memories of George Lucas' magnum opus, scaled-up measurements taken from a 15-inch model, and their own high midichlorian counts. The biggest challenges: figuring out how to make the hinged wings lock into attack position and ensuring that all four class-M rocket engines would fire at the same time." In the video, they say they are doing it for the kids but I'm not so sure...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Military Labs fall victim to hackers

An InfoWorld news article describes a couple of "sophisticated" hacker attacks on computer networks at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The article says "it appears that intruders accessed a database of visitors to the Tennessee lab between 1990 and 2004, which included their social security numbers and dates of birth." There is further speculation that the personal data could be a bit of a smoke screen for a more serious intrusion by "a rival government". Of course we've heard a lot this fall about apparent intrusions by Chinese sponsored hackers, doesn't appear as though anyone is throwing another volley in that direction just yet but it will be interesting to see how this develops. Seems to me if the labs were compromised by "several waves of phishing e-mails with malicious attachments" then there is a serious lack of education at these sites... my kids know not to open attachments or provide sensitive info via e-mail!

In-flight e-mail and IM coming at last

JetBlue Airways Corp. is poised to start offering e-mail and Instant Messenger access to travelers, starting with one flight next week. The service will be free of charge and will be limited but it's a step that has been a long time coming. According to the Globe and Mail "General Web surfing and e-mail attachments won't be permitted because of bandwidth constraints, and services on laptops and handhelds with Wi-Fi wireless access will be limited to e-mail and messaging from Yahoo Inc." No surprise here but Research In Motion has gotten in on the action, "Passengers can check other personal and work e-mail — but only on two BlackBerry models that have Wi-Fi wireless capabilities"

Other US carriers are said to be getting their own services ready and plan to offer broader capabilities in fee based offerings.

Thursday, December 6, 2007



Mobile post sent by greatbiggeek using Utterz Replies.  mp3

Longtail Studios take up offices in Charlottetown, upto 40 jobs over next 2 years expected

The Province of Prince Edward Island's Development and Technology Minister, Richard Brown, announced yesterday that Longtail Studios Inc. is leasing office space at the Atlantic Technology Centre in Charlottetown, and plans to hire up to 40 people over the next two years. According to a press release issued by the Province, Longtail Studios was "established in 2003 by Gerard Guillemot, a co-founder of Ubisoft Entertainment" and is "committed to developing character-driven games and content." Longtail Studios operates offices in New York City, Quebec City and now in Charlottetown.

Songwriters Association of Canada proposes P2P solution

The Songwriters Association of Canada is proposing a similar solution to the P2P issue as was imposed when the recordable media tax was introduced many years ago. The proposal would have Canadian ISPs (Internet Service Providers) charge each subscriber $5 a month for the right to legally trade music, the fee would then be distributed amongst the artists and content owners. According to Ars Technica "The proposal also hopes to encompass all forms of not-for-profit sharing under the same legal umbrella, whether sharing is done via P2P, wireless networks, e-mail, CD trading, or exchanging hard drives. The proposal excludes tracks obtained from music services like the iTunes Store and PureTracks, since these tracks are governed by their own licensing and value-added incentives." So basically all Canadian Internet subscribers will pay for the thieving ways of the P2P users! I'm not so sure this will go over too well with consumers, but if it becomes reality expect people to want to get their moneys worth...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Your cell phone as your boarding pass?

Continental Airlines is testing a system that allows passengers to use their cellphone or personal-digital assistant (PDA) instead of a regular boarding pass. During the test being conducted in Huston, Continental and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will allow passengers to present a code the airline has sent to their cellphone or PDA. According to USATODAY.com "The two-dimensional bar code, a jumble of squares and rectangles, stores the passenger's name and flight information. A TSA screener will confirm the bar code's authenticity with a handheld scanner. Passengers still need to show photo identification. The electronic boarding pass also works at airport gates."

RCMP make arrests under new copyright laws

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are claiming victory in the fight against movie piracy. With new legislation to back them, the RCMP have arrested a 25 year old Montreal man who is "facing two counts under the Copyright Act of knowingly distributing copyrighted material - pirated Hollywood films - on the Internet." according to the Globe and Mail. The police admit they have no way of knowing how many movies were pirated and sold but say they were tipped off by the FBI and the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association. The Canadian Government took action against piracy in June "when the government passed Bill C-59, amending the Criminal Code to make recording a movie without permission a crime punishable by two years in jail. Taping a film for future sale or rental carries a maximum five-year jail term." In this case the defendant is alleged to have used a camcorder to tape movies inside of a theatre and then distributed the pirated tapes via the Internet and on the street.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Passport Canada's website has serious security flaw

The Globe and Mail is reporting that an Ontario man was able to uncover personal information about other passport applicants when he was creating his own Canadian Passport request online. The hack occurred with a simple change of a few characters in the site URL, "I was expecting the site to tell me that I couldn't do that," said Jamie Laning of Huntsville. "I'm just curious about these things so I tried it, and boom, there was somebody else's name and somebody else's data." Mr. Laning is apparently an IT worker and immediately informed the Passport Office or his discovery. The site was taken down and apparently fixed, however when it came back up yesterday The Globe and Mail was able to view at least some data of other applicants including "names, addresses and numbers for references and emergency contacts." Glad I renewed by mail!

Chimps out perform humans in memory test!

Researchers in Japan have proven that young chimpanzees do amazingly well at short term memory tests. In an experiment, sort of a brain age for chimps, the researchers found that a 5 year old chimp out performed 9 university students by a 2 to 1 margin. "Our study shows that young chimpanzees have an extraordinary working memory capability for numerical recollection, better than that of human adults," reported Tetsuro Matsuzawa and Sana Inoue in the Dec. 4 issue of the journal Current Biology. The chimps however did not fare so well at the beer bong competition. ;-)

The CBC has more here.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Another geeky shoppers guide!

If you've got a geek on your Xmas list and they happen to be into gaming, then Ars Technica is the place to go! The folks at AT have compiled a great list of this years must have games arranged by system and complete with reviews. My little tip, don't stop on your game system's page, keep going through to the 8 bit tie and USB beverage chiller... you don't have to be a gamer to be a geek, but it helps.

Gaming giants merge

Vivendi and Activision are joining forces to create what they call "the world's most profitable games business". Vivendi owns Blizzard who produces the immensely popular World of Warcraft online game while Activision is behind the Call of Duty and Guitar Hero franchises. Blizzard will invest $2 billion in the new company, while Activision is putting up $1 billion. The BBC has more details.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

More Chinese hacking allegations

The head of MI5, Britain's domestic spy agency made famous by Ian Flemming's James Bond character, says that “Chinese state organizations” are spying on British financial institutions, accountancies and legal firms. MI5 apparently sent letters to the heads of 300 British firms warning them of the hacking attempts and telling them how to identify Chinese trojans within their computer systems. The Chinese have not responded to this specific allegation but have previously denied any wrong doing saying that they too have been the target of hackers. I'll bet it's Goldfinger or Scaramanga!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Crayon Physics game is way cool!

Here is a very cool game that Robert Scoble posted about on his blog... as Scoble says, makes you want to own a talet PC! Check it out.

Facebooks Beacon program under fire

My RSS feeds are full of Facebook Beacon stories, in particular the decision by Coke to sit back on it's initial decision to participate in the program. It seems that Facebook lead Coke to believe that the advertising program would be opt in but changed it's mind on that by launch time. There has been a steady backlash from users and consumers rights groups ever since. Here are some of the stories to follow if you're a Facebook users: TechCrunch, BBC, paidContent, and NYTimes Bits. I wonder if Hong Kong billionaire, Li Ka-shing, knew about the fire storm that was about to hit when he invested $60 million in Facebook?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Google announces intention to apply to participate in spectrum auction

In a press release, Google announced today it's intention to apply to participate in the Federal Communications Commission's upcoming auction of wireless spectrum in the 700 megahertz (MHz) band. "We believe it's important to put our money where our principles are," said Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO, Google. "Consumers deserve more competition and innovation than they have in today's wireless world. No matter which bidder ultimately prevails, the real winners of this auction are American consumers who likely will see more choices than ever before in how they access the Internet." The auction is part of the federally mandated transition to digital television in order to free up spectrum airwaves for more efficient wireless Internet service for consumers.

New Zealand teen alleged botnet kingpin

Police in New Zealand questioned an 18 year old Hamilton resident and seized a number of computers in an international investigation aided by police in the Netherlands and the FBI. The teen who was later released is alleged to be a ring leader in a group of hackers that the FBI estimates controls more than 1 million computers and has caused combined economic losses of more than $20-million. “He is very bright and very skilled in what he's doing,” said Martin Kleintjes, head of the police electronic crime centre, “He hires his services out to others.”

The Globe and Mail has more.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hackers go large scale to hijack search results and take over machines

An attempt by hijackers to manipulate search results and steer searchers to sites containing malicious code bent on exploiting an Internet Explorer flaw has apparently been thwarted. The BBC is reporting that the large scale attack, which involved tens of thousands of domains being set up to convince search index software they were serious sources of information, and was likely the works of Russian hackers (pure speculation). The domain names were registered in China and the sites hosted in the US, but were apparently only live for a couple of days before Google started to strip them from search results. Why can't we all just use Firefox?

Google investing in greener energy development

In an initiative it's calling "Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal", Google Inc. will be investing heavily in alternative energy projects through its Google.org philanthropic arm. While the aim is to lessen the environmental strain caused its appetite for power to run its computing centers, there also appears to be a profit motive. Larry Page is quoted in this Yahoo! Finance article as saying "If we achieve these goals, we are going to be in the (electricity) business in a very big way," and "We should be able to make a lot of money from this." The fan boy in me wants to applaud Google for the initiative, and if through their investment they are able to bring cheaper technology to the market all the better, but let's not lose sight of the fact that they are a corporation and there is money to be made here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Europeans dropping the land lines, many homes use mobile phone only

According to this report on the BBC News site article, Europeans are shedding their land lines in favour of their cell phones. The statistics are quite interesting, in particular the number of cell phones per 100 persons... the EU average is 95 but Luxembourg leads the way with 158 mobile subscriptions per 100 people! "Lithuania heads the nations who have turned against landlines with 48% of households replacing a fixed phone with a mobile. Finland was second with 47%." I'd really be interested to see what the numbers look like in Asia! I'll bet they are even more in favour of the mobile, on a trip to Hong Kong in 2000 I was amazed by how many people I saw carrying two cell phones!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Zero Emission No Noise car built in Canada but not street legal here!

The ZENN car made by ZENN Motor Company in Quebec, is an amazing little vehicle that is winning awards and sales globally, but is only legal for sale in one Canadian Province! The company's brochure states "ZENN not only looks like a car; it performs like one, too. Equipped with front-wheel drive, brisk acceleration and capable of achieving a regulated maximum speed of 25 mph (40 km/h), it keeps pace with traffic on local streets to get you where you’re going safely and in good time. And ZENN’s battery efficiency gives you the freedom to cover a lot of ground: approximately 35 miles per charge (56 kilometres)."

It's just unbelievable that our governments cannot see the benefits of enabling the consumer to make greener choices! I realize that we can't just allow anything on wheels to travel our roadways, but there must be some happy medium?

Rick Mercer says it all here...



Women believe they are better multitaskers according to online survey

A recent multitasking survey conducted online by Illuminas, for Nokia, suggests that women think they are much better multitaskers than men. The study conducted in the United Kingdom, Spain, Finland, Italy, China, Brazil, Germany, Denmark, France, USA, Sweden and Norway had 60 percent of respondents, both men and women, saying that women where the better multitaskers but interestingly only six percent of women believe that men are better at doing more than one thing at a time... there are about a hundred smart remarks coming to mind right now but in the interest of peace between the sexes I'll refrain from further comment ;-)

The Nokia press release is here.

TiVo coming to Canada in time for Christmas...

A big hit with consumers in the U.S., TiVo has been unavailable in Canada until now. In a press release TiVo Inc. announced the entry into the Canadian market place starting early December. The device, which allows users to record shows and skip commercials, will be available nation wide, with the exception of Quebec, via big box retailers Best Buy, Future Shop, The Brick and London Drug stores for $199. The service also requires a monthly subscription fee of $12.95. While similar technology is available through most of the cable services, the TiVo price is about $100 cheaper than the current offerings and is bound to heat up the market. The CBC has more here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Viewing Colonel Sanders from space...

About a year or so ago, the folks at KFC created a giant Col. Sanders logo in the Mojave desert and now, thanks to Google earth, the Colonel himself can be seen from space. I guess we can deduce that the time it takes to pull one of these stunts off is about a year... first the satellite has to fly over and capture the image and then the data has to make it's way to Google. I wonder how they kept the vandals away? Google Sightseeing blog has the discovery... and many more.

Update... Molson's pulls Facebook contest

Molson's has decided to pull their Facebook contest in which students were encouraged to post pictures of themselves partying on campus after growing criticism from Universities around the country. In a follow up article in The Globe and Mail, Ferg Devins a VP at Molson's is quoted as saying “The whole realm of social media – there's lots to learn,” and “It's really a new area. We're probably groundbreaking and leading in a lot of things we've been doing.” I'm not sure the context of these comments but it doesn't sound much like Mr. Devins is apologizing for anything. The prize of a trip for five to Cancun worth about $8000 will be awarded this week. Not surprisingly, the most entries to the contest came from students at Memorial University in St. John's, Nfld. Those folks on the Rock can sure party!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Exoskeleton a military reality?

Wired brings us an interesting and impressive look at exoskeleton technology developed by Sarcos, recently purchased by defense contractor Raytheon. I've seen many of these type videos but this looks like it's very close... The video is really impressive, and I suspect it's only a matter of time before we start to see battlefield images of this technology.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Texas town sold on e-bay for $3.8 million

An unpopulated, one house, 13 acre town in Texas was recently auctioned via eBay with the winning bid coming from Italy. The town of Albert, about 60 miles north of San Antonio boasts a tavern, created from the frame of the old general store, a pavilion, an 85-year-old dance hall, a tractor shed, a three-bedroom house, plus peach and pecan orchards. The current owner is not jumping for joy yet as he has not verified that the $3.8 million bid is legitimate.

One Laptop Per Child "Give one, Get one" program extended

The OLPC 'Give one, Get one" program appears to be a success with the organization extending the program until the end of the year in order to allow more people to participate. "In the past 10 days, we've experienced an outpouring of support from the public that is truly gratifying and encouraging," said Nicholas Negroponte, the program's founder. "so many people have asked for more time to participate either individually or in order to organize local and national groups to which they belong." says Negroponte. The CBC has more here.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Activision sued by rock band because Guitar Hero cover is too close to the real thing!

Even though they secured the right to make a cover of The Romantics song "What I Like About You", Activision, the makers of Guitar Hero III is being sued because the band believes the cover version is too close to the real thing. According to this USA Today article "The band's attorneys said Activision properly secured permission to use the song What I Like About You, which allowed it to record a cover version. But by creating an imitation so much like the Romantics' original, they said, the company has infringed the group's right to its own image and likeness." If this one passes you can bet there will be a few more lawsuits, those covers are extremely good!

Brewing company's Facebook marketing initiative under fire

A party photo contest for university students on Facebook is being called irresponsible and university officials are suggesting that the brewery is either unaware of the potential danger "or simply placing profits above ethics." The Globe and Mail is reporting about the initiative by Molson Coors Brewing Co. that has university officials across Canada fuming. Joe MacDonald, dean of students at St. Francis Xavier University says “These kinds of programs put added stress on our ability to ensure that students have a very positive, successful academic and non-academic development.… This is not something that is welcome within our campus community.” Beyond the obvious potential for harm that ensues when partying gets out of hand, the schools are also concerned that the images could be "harmful for students seeking jobs if a potential employer discovered their raucous partying poses on Facebook."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

2/3 of Facebook users are female

TechCrunch is reporting that user data suggests that nearly 2/3 of all Facebook users are female. Research conducted by blogger Paul Francis says that there are nearly 43 million users world wide and that only 36% are male. The US has the largest user base followed by the U.K., Canada, Australia, and Turkey. Not sure how accurate the data is but interesting numbers if they are true.

California DMV turns to YouTube to get it's message out

Someone at the California DMV is thinking! The government agency responsible for motor vehicle safety and driver training has decided to target the places young people hangout... YouTube and MySpace. “We are always looking at ways to reach people, teens especially,” said department spokeswoman, Jan Mendoza. “And let’s face it, the Internet is huge. We thought it would be really cool since YouTube is free.” What impresses me about this is that here is a government agency that has decided to use technology to it's advantage without investing $ millions building something that nobody will use. Far too often IT departments feel as if they have to own the technology, and that's a little bit self serving in my opinion. Of course we are not talking about sensitive data here. The New York Times has the story.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Building a wise cracking computer

Putting his AI abilities to good use, Russian Igor Suslov, a physicist at the Kapitza Institute for Physical Problems in Moscow, is trying to create a computer based program that has a sense of humor. According to the Telegraph, Suslov "thinks he sees at least the broad outline of how humour works" based on "his mathematical model, which traces our ability to experience humour to quirks in how the brain handles information". In an interview with New Scientist, Suslov says humor's "... biological function, is to make brain operations more efficient." hmmm... there has to be a joke in this somewhere!

Geek gift guide

Wired has compiled a geek gift giving guide just in time for the holiday season. From "Dead Blow" hammers (I love that name) for the weekend handyman to the new HP Photosmart A826 Home Photo Center! There is something for everyone on your shopping list. This has inspired me... think I'll compose my own list, stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Group predicts Net Gridlock by 2010

It seems as though our appetite for high bandwidth data is growing and at a rate that is out pacing the infrastructure or so says US analyst firm Nemertes. A study produced by the group "predicted a drastic slowdown as the network struggles to cope with the amount of data being carried on it" according to the BBC. The report suggests that tens of Billions of dollars are required to head off the impending doom and that the real cost will be associated with the stifling of innovation. "The report is part-funded by the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) which campaigns for universal broadband in the US." Perhaps that explains it! Not that I wouldn't want to see more broadband, bigger capacity, etc., just that I'm a little skeptical of a report funded by a lobby group...

Robot roaches!

In another coop for mankind, researchers at the Free University of Brussels have programmed tiny roach robots to infiltrated the cockroach community! According to the CBC "The robots didn't look like the insects and at first the roaches fled from them, but after the scientists coated the robots with pheromones that made them smell like roaches, the machines were accepted into the group, nesting together with the insects." I guess we'll be ready for those alien bug invaders after all!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Is Google after Skype?

According to The Guardian Google is in talks with eBay to buy Skype! Well, that's what the rumors circulating London say... and according to OM Malik the Skype spokespeople are not commenting. I guess with all of the interest in telephony these days at Google it's not a big stretch of the imagination to speculate on this deal, and they do have the cash to make such a purchase happen. Can Google succeed where eBay has failed? Time may tell...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Canon PowerShot S5 IS

In preparation for our trip South, and as a birthday gift from the family I recently received a new toy that I'm thrilled with! Previously I had a point and shoot 3.1 Mega Pixel Canon AS-200 digital camera, and while I was generally happy with it I found myself longing for more features and better quality shots, particularly in the zoom department. After much research, and a lot of wavering back and forth, I decided upon the Canon PowerShot S5 IS. It's not quite a digital SLR but offers a respectable 8 Mega Pixel resolution, 12 X optical zoom, facial recognition (up to 9 subjects), and many manual settings as well as fully automatic mode, all for around $450. On top of this there are available lens adapters, including a wide angle or telephoto lens that can be added to round out the options and bring this camera a step closer to the DSLRs. There is a video mode which, unlike many others, allows you to zoom while filming and many settings that I'm just learning to use. I'm really enjoying this camera.


A nice gift for the wine geek.

If you have a wine lover who's also a tech geek I'm sure they will be appreciative of this little USB thumb drive from bewineconnected.com. Not only is it shaped like a wine bottle but it's packed with wine related info, ringtones for your cellphone, and an application for managing your wine cellar! At 35 Euro it's a little pricey for a thumb drive, but considering the information provided it may well be worth the purchase. The Open Cellar application is available here for free, but package it all up nicely in a cute little thumb drive and I'm sure your wine collector will love it. Thanks to Emmanuel Etcheparre for sending me this link.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Just had to share this one, everyone needs a little cheering up now and then!

Wii the next Cabbage Patch Kid or Tickle Me Elmo?

Forbes.com has a story predicting the Wii to be the hot toy this Christmas with a limited supply even though Nintendo is churning out as many as it can. GN GamerMetrics analyst Nick Williams says "There's a limited supply, a continuously high demand." The XBox 360 out sold the Wii in September when Microsoft launched Halo 3, but the analysts are expecting Nintendo to come out on top for Christmas. There are no shortage of stories circulating about the Wii being a big hit with the traditional non-gamers and perhaps it's simplicity, the physical nature of the game play, not to mention the $250 price tag, will keep the Wii hot for the foreseeable future.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Gibson's Robot Guitar!

You don't have to be a musician to appreciate this... it's Gibson's Robot Guitar! While it doesn't play music as I imagined when I heard the name, this guitar tunes itself and it's coming soon to select Gibson dealers. I'm pretty useless when it comes to musical instruments but I'd sure love to demo this guitar. Check it out - with video!

Virtual theft nets real consequence

A 17 year old Dutch teen finds himself in hot water, having been arrested by police for theft of virtual items from other users of the social networking and gaming website Habbo Hotel. The teen is accused of stealing 4000 euros ($5700) worth of virtual furniture from other users, and since in game items are purchased with real money, the theft is being treated as it would in the real world. The crime was committed through a phishing type scheme where users were lured to fake websites where their user names and passwords where harvested. The CBC has more here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Netflix's $1 million coding challenge

Last year Netflix offered programmers a challenge, and dangled a $1 million reward as incentive. The task was to improve upon the company's recommendation system by at least 10%, and to date none of the more than 27,000 entries have succeeded. In order to keep developers interested Netflix is awarding it's first annual prize of $50,000 to the team that achieved the closest margin of 8.5%. The team is composed of 3 employees of AT&T who were paid to work on the project by their employer, the company is being awarded the prize and plans to donate the proceeds. Kudos AT&T! It's nice to see companies embrace these challenges and allow employees to follow such pursuits! CNN story here.

Paul McCartney says Beatles works going digital soon

Billboard.com is quoting Paul McCartney as saying "it's all happening soon. Most of us are all sort of ready. The whole thing is primed, ready to go -- there's just maybe one little sticking point left, and I think it's being cleared up as we speak, so it shouldn't be too long. It's down to fine-tuning, but I'm pretty sure it'll be happening next year, 2008." Saying that the delay in bringing the Beatles online is due mostly to contractual details and getting the timing right, McCartney says "You've got to get these things right," Just get it done Paul! The world is waiting...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

ZoneAlarm anti-spyware free if you act quick

It seems that Check Point is celebrating Patch Tuesday with a little gift... you can download ZoneAlarm anti-spyware from this link today, until 5:00 PM PST, for free! I've never tried their anti-spyware but can honestly say that I ran ZoneAlarm firewall for many years and was quite happy!

Marvel Comics puts classics online

In a move that is well past due, comic giant Marvel has made it's classic back catalog available online. Marvel will charge $4.99 per month on a one year membership subscription or $9.99 per month with out the years commitment. As news broke yesterday there must have been a flurry of hits, as the server seemed unreachable for a while, it's up this morning though and for a limited time you can view 250 titles for free. The look is nostalgic, don't expect any slick new images... it's like an e-version of that stack of comics in your closet as a child! Check out Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Video game companies coming to Prince Edward Island - job market to double

The CBC is announcing that the number of jobs in Prince Edward Island's fledgling video game industry is about to double to approximately 120 positions. This on the announcement of two new players into P.E.I.'s video game industry. The Province's higher education institutions are seeing the trends and will be pitching in by offering a new video game art and design program at Holland College starting this January. While the University of Prince Edward Island has already begun offering three courses this year, with a full degree in video game programming to be announced in the near future. "If we can do the training for them, then that helps them," said UPEI computer science department chair David LeBlanc. The companies include Longtail an independent game studio with ties to Ubisoft and an unnamed testing and quality assurance company.

Have peek at Google's Android

The Open Handset Alliance headed up by Google is offering a peek at the Android Software Development Kit (SDK) and some big money to spark creativity amongst developers. In an announcement last week that many believed would be a so called gPhone, Google introduced Android a software platform for mobile phone developers, and the Alliance of over 30 software and hardware companies. This video by Sergey Brin and Steve Horowitz discusses the availability of the SDK and offers a little peek at phone applications developed using the Android Platform. Looks interesting, and with $10 million in incentives you can expect developers to be putting their thinking caps on!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cognos agrees to purchase by IBM

Canada's largest software developer, Cognos, has agreed to a $5 Billion buyout by IBM. The move comes on the heals of similar deals for Cognos competitors Business Objects by SAP and Hyperion Solutions Corp. by Oracle. "We chose Cognos because of its industry-leading technology that is based on open standards," said Steve Mills, senior vice-president in IBM's software group. CBC has more here.

Wii remote Roomba!

Here's a nifty YouTube video of a Roomba being controlled by a Wii remote, Chris Hughes provides a demonstration of his hacking skills and offers up the source code. Check it out!

Google facing lawsuit over search technology

Google faces a federal patent infringement lawsuit filed last week in Marshall, Texas. Marshall is the U.S. court with a history of decisions that have been highly favourable to plaintiffs in patent cases. The plaintiffs are Boston based Jarg Corp. and Northeastern University; Jarg is a startup that was founded by a Northeastern professor and is the exclusive licensee of a search technology that was patented in 1997 ahead of Google incorporation. The Globe and Mail says "The case centres on U.S. patent No. 5,694,593, entitled “Distributed Computer Database System and Method,” which was invented by Dr. Kenneth Baclawski, an associate professor in Northeastern's computer science department." This should get interesting!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Supernova discovered in 2006 caused by two colliding white dwarf stars

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) says a supernova discovered last year was caused by two colliding white dwarf stars. A Harvard press release says "The white dwarfs were siblings orbiting each other. They slowly spiraled inward until they merged, touching off a titanic explosion." The image to the left is an artists depiction of the event that was previously only believed to exist in theory. Cool!

Selling your home? Buy a domain!

There are plenty of ways to sell your home, real estate agents, for sale by owner, and now vizzvox.com. The online service allows agents or individuals to create narrated ads complete with images or video, includes hosting and domain name registration for an annual fee. www.640hobart.com for example is an ad created by a San Mateo, California based real estate agent and helped sell the property within a week of posting. It's a little like Power Point however, an application that I've never really liked... it's very easy to make your presentation really cheesy. The NY Times has more.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Jack Black is Kung Fu Panda!

Surfing around and found this trailer. I'm a huge Jackie Chan fan and love Dream Works movies... Jack Black has his moments too. Check it out!

Lonely girl 95?

This is a great story... a 95 year old Spanish grandmother who's grandson presented her with a blog for her birthday was less than impressed, "Today it's my birthday and my grandson, who is very stingy, gave me a blog." However, she now receives comments from web surfers all over the world and of all ages. With 60,000 regular readers Maria Amelia Lopez has become somewhat of an Internet celebrity and has embraced the technology. "The Internet has given me life," she told Reuters. You go girl!

Friday, November 9, 2007

MIT creates search engine to aid students to find topics within video taped lectures

Wow, 2 AI / natural language recognition search related posts in one day! Faculty and students of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a search engine that allows students to search video taped lectures as they might a text based web site. Lectures that have been video taped are fed to speech to text software that captures a transcript, the text is then divided into groups of words, or topics, that are analyzed for key-word density. Students can then query the search engine for topics and be guided directly to the portion of the video that best matches the query, therefor saving the trouble of scanning an entire lecture to find a specific portion. Best of all it's not just for MIT students, in fact its openly available thanks to MIT's OpenCourseWare initiative. Guess I know how my weekend is going to be spent! Give it a try! (Requires Real Player Plug in)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Natural Language Search Engine [true knowledge]

TechCrunch tipped me off to this new search engine, [true knowledge]. It's currently in private beta, which I'm hoping to be accepted to, but the video below does a fine job of spelling out the features / advantages to natural language searches. I've been playing with natural language chatbots for a six or seven years and have always had a soft spot for the technology. It will be interesting to follow [true knowledge] to see if others find the technology equally interesting. I think that those new to the Internet (if there still is anyone out there) will find this very intuitive, it's also a much more efficient way to find simple one line type answers. It will be interesting to see if those who are accustomed to the current search engine methods will see the benefit of natural language type queries. Also interesting to follow will be the success of the user contributed responses, have they found a way to keep people honest and thwart the attempts of those who would try to deceive others?

Good luck [true knowledge], I'm anxious to give it a try!


Super Mario in Zero G!

This is pretty funny... veteran astronaut Dr. Buzz Aldrin helps Super Mario experience zero g's in a publicity stunt aimed at the upcoming release of Super Mario Galaxy. Is it me or does Mario look like he's about to loose his lunch?

Online advertising to double by 2011?

Research firm eMarketer is forecasting that online advertising will surpass $21-Billion this year and will double to $42-Billion by 2011. The Globe and Mail says "In the coming years, paid search will remain the biggest form of online advertising, accounting for about 40 per cent of spending annually through 2011. Display ads like banners will generate about 20 per cent of Internet ad revenues, while classified ads will contribute about 17 per cent, the report said." The question is where will all this extra cash come from? Assume tougher times ahead for Print and Television ad departments!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Parental Timer coming to the Xbox?

According to G4's The Feed, Microsoft is teaming up with the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), and football superstar Jerry Rice to encourage families to limit Xbox time by enabling parents to physically control the consoles usage via a "Family Timer". “As a leader in interactive entertainment, it’s Microsoft’s responsibility to provide parents with tools they can use to manage their children’s video gaming and online experiences, and we have made that a priority from the very start,” said Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment & Devices Division at Microsoft.

Okay, for enough cash I'll kill this story and deny any knowledge... time to pool your allowances together kiddies!

Facebook marketing to your friends

Yesterday "Facebook began selling ads that display people’s profile photos next to commercial messages that are shown to their friends about items they purchased or registered an opinion about" according to this NY Times article. The idea is to inform your friends of your purchases via a Facebook broadcast, with your permission of course. “Nothing influences a person more than a recommendation from a trusted friend,” Mark Zuckerberg said of the program Facebook is calling "social advertising". Participation could mean "joining a fan club for a brand, recommending a product or sharing information about their purchases from external Web sites." Be fore warned, your friends will have no choice but to view the ads so you may find your friend list beginning to shrink if you are the source of a lot of spam!

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