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Saturday, September 8, 2007

Texting while driving could be costly for UK drivers

Engadget is reporting that drivers in the United Kingdom could be facing stiffer penalties for using their favourite devices while driving their cars. The current penalty is a maximum of £2,500 fines or community service, a new classification for the offense is being sought and could result in a maximum 2 years imprisonment. Now that's harsh! Perhaps that's enough incentive to smarten folks up!

15 useful iGoogle gadgets

Web Worker Daily has compiled a nice list of it's 15 most useful gadgets. If you are like me, your homepage is iGoogle! I use a couple of tabs to manage my rss feeds and the Home tab has my Gmail gadget, a sticky note gadget, a picture of my cat, Google calendar, pacman, and some others. Web Worker Daily's list is a bit more productive and has opened my eyes to some nice tools that I'll be adding, like activity tracker and Document to PDF.

The MMO Report

G4 TV has produced a very entertaining weekly news segment called the MMO Report. Hosted by Casey Schreiner, the show recaps the news of the week in Massively Multiplayer Online gaming. Check out this weeks offering...

btw Casey, I've got a green iPod shuffle I've giving away! But you'll have to do a little work to be considered. Check out my post here.

Internet enabled exercycle allows you to ride famous courses and challenge others

c|net's tries out the Ergo Bike Premium 8i from Germany's Daum Electronics. The bike packs a lot of technology that enables you to customize your training, train with others over the Internet and view their stats, or load up race profiles that simulate course layouts making you work harder on hills, etc.. The bike is reported to cost $3500 US so it's not for every family but if you are serious about training it may be worth consideration. Watch the c|net video review here.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Port of Halifax employing new security measures, can you say minority report?

The CBC is reporting that the Halifax port authority will soon be scanning the veins in the hands of their employees. The technology known as vascular biometrics, created by Identica Canada Corp. of Toronto, is apparently much safer than scanning eyes. Vascular biometrics maps the veins in the employees hand and stores data on an id card, when an employee enters the port they will be required to swipe their card and place their hand on a scanner, the system uses pattern-recognition to determine if the identity matches. "So, you are guaranteed the person carrying the card is the person it was issued to." unless the terrorist is carrying a lobbed off hand... or perhaps I've been watching too many movies!

How Google got its start on this date in 1998

Wired has the tale of a $100,000 check made out on this date in 1998 to "Google Inc." before the company was even incorporated... a quick but interesting read about how Sergey Brin and Larry Page got Google on the move, with a little help from Andy Bechtolsheim.

A better touch based technology?

From Apple's iPhone / iPod Touch to Microsoft's Surface PC, everyone is striving to change the way we interact with our devices and it seems that touch screen is the way to go. One big drawback to touch screen is that your hand momentarily obscures your view as you invoke action on the screen. Researchers at Mitsubishi, Microsoft, and the University of Toronto have teamed up to tackle this problem. Their answer appears to lie in a new technology dubbed LucidTouch, "users can choose to manipulate objects by touching a sensor pad on the back of the device; this allows users to resize images and text, as well as navigate around any graphical user interface without their hands getting in the way of the display." ars technica had an opportunity to view the prototype and has an article chronicling the experience.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Molson Canadian wins Beer Cooling Challenge

The guys at tom's hardware have way too much fun! Some time ago, on a whim, they put a few bottles of Molson Canadian up against traditional liquid coolants to see if beer could compare. At that time the Canadian brew finished second, so they guys at tom's thought they'd have an international challenge to see which regions beer would perform the best. Molson's again came through and holds the title as tom's international best beer - coolant. Check out the video evidence here.

Why you shouldn't attempt to hack your iPhone

Wired has the tale of a would be iPhone hacker who bricked his iPhone while attempting to free it from it's AT&T only service. Looking at the picture, it's a little more than "bricked" it's probably more like "burnt toast". Perhaps he should have waited for the iPod Touch and kept his old cell phone! I don't know about you but I can't really afford to throw that kind of money away with the slip of a screw driver...

Speaking of the iPod Touch, here is a little video courtesy of YouTube and slashgear, the audio is a little poor but you'll get a glimpse of the new iPod in action.

New iPods

Here are a couple of pics of the new iPod Touch and the new iPod Nano, Courtesy of Apple.

Pfizer machines spewing spam about Viagra?

Wired is reporting that a San Fransisco based security firm, Support Intelligence, is claiming that drug giant Pfizer has fallen victim to zombie networks operating within it's infrastructure and appears to be oblivious to the situation. Interestingly enough the spam that the zombies are serving up are largely for products that the company produces! According to Wired, Support Intelligence says "Pfizer computers have been spamming inboxes for the last six months... 138 different Pfizer IP addresses have been blacklisted by various groups". Wired reports that Pfizer has had a recent history of security related woes, "In one breach, a Pfizer employee exposed personal information on 17,000 employees after installing peer-to-peer software on a laptop. In another breach, confirmed Tuesday, a former employee downloaded sensitive data, including social security numbers and credit-card information for about 34,000 Pfizer employees."

Sounds like its time for some changes in the IT department!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Jobs announces new iPod Touch and other enhancements to the line

It turns out that most of the speculation was correct, Apple is launching an iPhone like iPod called the iPod Touch. It functions similarly to the iPhone with a touch screen that orients in portrait or landscape mode, plays music and video, and features WiFi for web browsing capabilities using the Safari browser. The iPod Touch will come in two versions, 8 or 16 gigabytes, and will cost $299 and $399 US respectively. Steve Job's keynote speech is available on the Apple site here or see the BBC's take on the device. It's pretty interesting, I'd have to say that I'm most excited about the WiFi! You'll probably want to get one quickly if you are thinking Christmas gift...

Patent application points to Google's "gPhone" intent?

ars technica seems convinced , like so many others, that Google is planning a mobile phone to rival Apple's entry into the market. Citing a year old patent application for "A computer-implemented method of effectuating an electronic on-line payment includes receiving at a computer server system a text message from a payor containing a payment request representing a payment amount sent by a payor device operating independently of the computer server system, determining a payment amount associated with the text message and debiting a payor account for an amount corresponding to the amount of the payment request, and crediting an account of a payee that is independent of the computer server system.", as evidence. One thing is for sure, the speculation is reaching Apple proportions!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Is it the end of business for Business 2.0?

There are two magazines that I read religiously, Wired and Business 2.0, and I like to think that I have my finger, at least faintly, on the pulse of the tech industry with all of the reading that I do. I had of course heard the rumours in July that Business 2.0 was in danger but I guess it never really occurred to me that it would actually happen. When I received my mail (postal) today I was pleasantly surprised to find an offer to renew my subscription early and receive a second year for the price of one, I immediately put it in my todo list. Imagine my disappointment when I was visiting my usual list of sites this evening and read "Business 2.0 RIP" in a New York Times Bits article. According to the article "employees of Business 2.0 magazine were told today that the monthly publication will close next week, after they finish the October issue." The Times promise more news in tomorrows edition, I'll be waiting anxiously, and I guess I'll be holding on to my cheque for a little while longer. Sad news indeed, if it is true.

Autonomous sailboats to race the Atlantic

Well DARPA inspired robot cars to cross the desert and cityscapes but the military has nothing to do with Microtransat a competition that puts robotic boats up against each other in an attempt to move the research forward. "Ultimately, the goal is to produce oceanographic survey platforms that could operate at sea for up to six months, probably sailing themselves out to areas of interest. They would send data back using satellite communications, and return periodically for repairs if possible; but their cost would be low enough that losses wouldn't be catastrophic." says The Register article on the competition. This years race is not as ambitious as the one currently planned for late 2008, that one is the trans Atlantic crossing, on the agenda this time are two short course races of 2 and 10km in distance. I'm not that into boats, but robot boats sounds cool!

China denies accusations

In a move that should come as no shock to anyone, the Chinese government is denying accusations that it was involved in a cyber attack on the Pentagon. A Chinese Foreign Ministry official is quoted in this BBC report as saying "Some people are making wild accusations against China ... These are totally groundless and also reflect a Cold War mentality," Interestingly, President Bush and China's Hu Jintao are preparing to meet at the Apec summit in Sydney, Australia. I wonder what the agenda will be?

China believed to be behind high level hacks of German and US government sites

The Financial Times is reporting that "a senior US official" is quoted as saying the Pentagon had pinpointed the China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) as responsible for a computer infiltration at the US Defence Department. This on the heals of German accusations that China had hacked it's systems... seems China and the US exchange these probes all the time but this time “The PLA has demonstrated the ability to conduct attacks that disable our system...and the ability in a conflict situation to re-enter and disrupt on a very large scale,”

Monday, September 3, 2007

Ad supported video games - almost free!

Would you be willing to be subject to advertisements if it meant free gaming? Ubisoft is offering up 3 of it's popular titles to gamers in the US, valid members can receive Far Cry, Raving Rabbids, or Price of Persia: The Sands of Time that are ad supported and available at fileplanet. I'm in Canada, so I'll not be getting my freebie but I'm anxious to know how obvious and/or annoying the ads are. If you download one let me know in a comment. Credit Wired Game|Life blog.

I'm a sucker for stop motion video

This one comes compliments of my eldest son. I've always been into stop motion animation, Josh and I even created a short claymation film for a school project when he was in 5th grade. He sent me this link and I have to say that it is one of the best that I've seen in a long time, genious! Hope you enjoy as well.

Spike Lee's online film festival

Spike Lee is teaming up with online streaming media company Babelgum to launch an international online film festival aimed at showcasing talent from around the globe. "There's this misconstrued thinking that all talent is in Los Angeles or New York," Lee said. The festival will have six categories: short films under 20 minutes, documentary, animation, advertising, social and environmental films, and best emerging talent with winners receiving $20,000. CBC has the details.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

5M15 Rocket engine test fire video

This post thanks to Wired, I found the explanation of Mach disks quite intriguing. If you count the disks (7 according to Wired) and multiply that number by the speed of sound (758 mph at the altitude of the test) you can figure out how fast the the fuel is exiting the engine... 5306 mph!

Sony's Rolly, what is it... what's next?

c|net's Crave blog is as puzzled about this video for the Sony Rolly as everyone else is... what the heck is it?

Google Earth's built in flight simulator!

Lifehacker has news (and instructions) of a new feature quietly added to Google Earth. It's a flight simulator that allows you to take off from the airport or runway of your choice and pilot either an F16 "Viper" or SR22 prop plane. There are a number keyboard shortcuts available to control the plane, as well as joystick support. It is reported to be a little tricky to get the hang of but then again I imagine you don't jump into the cockpit of an F16 and nail takeoff without a little simulator time either! I'd like to give it a try but ArchLord is taking up most of my free time! I'll ask the kids to check it out, or if you do let me know how the experience was.

Fuji's new camera aimed at youth market

c|net's has the scoop on a new line of cameras coming this month from Fuji. The new Z10fd Finepix is said to be oriented towards teenagers and twenty somethings but it's got a few geeky features that make it a worth considering for the rest of us too. At a list price of $219 CA and 7.2 megapixel resolution the Z10fd comes with a lot of features you'd expect and a couple of new ones that might spark your interest. Notably there is an infrared lens that allows you to share full image photos between two Z10fd's and on board photo manipulation. It comes in your choice of colours, so you can coordinate your tech look with your cellphone and laptop. No indication from c|net on the quality of the images though! Worth watching for if you are looking for a take anywhere camera that won't set you back a months salary.