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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Technology leads victims to criminals

A Georgetown University student who was attacked and beaten because of his sexual orientation, took matters into his own hands and searched Facebook in an attempt to identify his attacker. CNN reports that "When he found a profile of someone who looked like his attacker, police investigated, then created a photo spread of possible suspects. The victim picked Cooney's photo from the photo spread and Washington police worked with Georgetown University Public Safety officers to arrest him." This is the second such incident of technology being used by victims of crime to catch the criminals, that I've heard of this week. The other incident is a little more humorous, a Vancouver company that was robbed of several computers found pictures of a shirtless man on it's flickr site. It seems that one of the machines that had been stolen had software installed on it that would automatically upload any photos taken by the computer's built-in camera to it's account. They were careful to say that the man in the picture did not necessarily steal the computer but was obviously in possession of it! Score a couple for the good guys!

Toyota successfully tests next gen fuel-cell vehicle

Toyota took two fuel-cell powered vehicles for on a road trip from Osaka to Tokyo on Friday. The vehicles arrived in Tokyo with about 30% of it's fuel remaining after the 560 km trip, this represents a total capacity of about 770 km between fill-ups, and about 25% more efficiency than current models. The CBC's report says "Fuel-cell cars are widely viewed as the most promising pollution-free vehicles for the future because they are powered by electricity generated through the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen and emit only water as a byproduct." I am a big believer in the move towards greener devices, but living in a northern climate, I wonder how well these vehicles perform in cold weather?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Apple update bricks iPhones

The BBC is reporting that a planned software update issued by Apple, with a warning earlier this week, has indeed caused hacked iPhones to go silent. On Monday Apple said the software would "likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed". The BBC says that there are also reports of unmodified iPhones being negatively affected by the update. I'm a little intrigued by how much this has been discussed and yet owners of the modified devices are installing the updates? Just saying, if it were my $600 phone I don't think I'd take the risk...

Microsoft bows to preasure, extends availability of Windows XP

According to this Microsoft Press Pass posting, Microsoft is planning to sell Windows XP for 5 months longer than originally planned. "In an effort to respond to feedback the company is hearing from its customers and partners, Microsoft is extending availability of Windows XP editions among original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and retail channels for an additional five months to June 30, 2008.", the release says. Also, "...there are some customers who need a little more time to make the switch to Windows Vista." It's a bit of a back peddle on Microsoft's part, as their official policy is to sell a Windows product through their retail and direct OEM partners for four years after they ship.

"and now for something completely different"

TechCrunch is reporting that actor / comedian, John Cleese, has signed on to do a video podcast with The Podcast Network. The Podcast Network CEO Cameron Reilly said that “having a living legend like John Cleese joining The Podcast Network’s growing roster of talent is a coup for the business and a personal thrill.” Can't wait!

"Dawn has risen, and the spacecraft is healthy,"

Mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) received telemetry at 9:44 a.m. yesterday, indicating that the Dawn spacecraft had achieved proper orientation in space and its massive solar array was generating power from the sun. Dawn has begun it's 3-billion-mile odyssey that will include the exploration of asteroid Vesta in 2011 and the dwarf planet Ceres in 2015. Dawn Principal Investigator Christopher Russell, University of California, Los Angeles said "This is a moment the space science community has been waiting for since interplanetary spaceflight became possible." NASA press release here.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

iRobot unleashes two new robots

iRobot has added a couple of new home robots to it's line up of helpful little discs. The Looj, a remote controlled crawler, that was rumoured earlier this year, has been created to help clear your gutters of debris. More interesting though, is the ConnectR, a mobile VOIP speaker phone that you can control remotely over the web. iRobot's site says this about the ConnectR, "Combining the latest in Internet communications and robot technology, ConnectR lets you virtually visit with loved ones, relatives and pets anytime you wish – seeing, hearing and interacting with them in their home as if you were there in person." The Looj sells for $99.99 - $169.99 while ConnectR is not publicly available yet, but is expected to be in the $500.00 range and available late '07 or early '08. If you're interested in participating in a pilot program with ConnectR, iRobot is taking applications here. I signed up ;)

Famous Yeti footprint photo sold at Christie's auction

boingboing is reporting that a famous photo of an alleged Yeti footprint was sold at auction in London for £3,500. The photo reportedly taken by Eric Earle Shipton in the Himalayas in 1951, shows a print above an ice axe that was positioned for scale / comparison. Link to the Christie's lot here.

Canada's taxman gets win in court, e-bay to provide member sales data

The Globe and Mail is reporting that The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has won a court case seeking information about people who qualified for eBay's PowerSeller program in 2004 and 2005. According to the court filing e-bay members qualify for the PowerSeller program if they sell $1000 a month or more. There are 5 levels to the program with Titanium members selling in access of $150,000 a month and benefits include prioritized customer service, special promotions and sales tips. “The CRA is seeking to verify compliance with the obligations and duties under the Income Tax Act of certain Canadian taxpayers selling goods in an online marketplace,” said an affidavit filed in court by the CRA.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The last Business 2.0

It usually is a great day when I find a Business 2.0 stuffed in the mail! Today was not a great day...

With any luck Fortune magazine will pick up the slack, but somehow I doubt it.

RIP Business 2.0!

British Columbia plans to test digital ID card

The government of British Columbia is planning to test a virtual ID "card" that promises a more secure method of accessing government services online, as compared to the typical user name and password method. The information "card" is not actually a card at all, but a digital document containing a digital signature that can't be changed or reproduced. The card utilizes the principals of The Seven Laws of Identity, developed by Microsoft's chief identity architect Kim Cameron and ensures:
  • "The government won't know which sites the user visits."
  • "The user is in control of shared information."
  • "The cards won't have to reveal users' birth dates or addresses, or a student's school..."
CBC story here.

English town gives driverless car a try

The BBC is running this story about the town of Daventry in Northamptonshire that is testing a driverless car in an effort to increase the use of public transportation and reduce the reliance on cars? I'll assume the Cybercar is more efficient than your average vehicle for at least part of that logic to hold true. The Cybercar can be called by pressing a button on their route, and will go direct to their destination. They require a light track to operate and are designed for low speed, short distance trips. If only they had a robotic cabbie in the front seat and were called "Johnny Cab"!

Street View may not comply with Canadian privacy legislation

Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart has informed Google that it's Street View technology that presents photographic street level images of cities, ironically created by Calgary based Immersive Media, may not comply with Canadian privacy legislation. In a letter written to Google Stoddart says "In particular, it does not appear to meet the basic requirements of knowledge, consent, and limited collection and use as set out in the legislation." Google is apparently considering blurring images of people and license plates in an attempt to comply. While the service has not yet deployed any Canadian data this CBC report indicates that Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City have all been surveyed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Slingbox™ maker Sling Media acquired

Sling Media, makers of the Slingbox™ (the little device that allows you to view your favourite media on the go, anywhere in the world, through your high speed Internet connection) has announced it's acquisition by pay-TV company EchoStar. “We are psyched to make this announcement. We have worked closely with EchoStar for more than two years, and have come to realize that both companies have similar entrepreneurial cultures and mutual dedication and passion for creating empowering experiences that benefit the consumer and the media industry,” said Blake Krikorian, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Sling Media.

I can understand how the companies are a fit and while I find the Slingbox an interesting gadget I am not sure why I'd need one. I guess I just don't love television that much, or travel that often that I find this a must have device. That said, I do know people who would!

Amazon launches public beta of Amazon MP3 music service

Amazon announced today that it launched a public beta of it's new Amazon MP3 service. "Amazon MP3 is an all-MP3, DRM-free catalog of a la carte music from major labels and independent labels, playable on any device, in high-quality audio, at low prices," said Bill Carr, Vice President for Digital Music at Making the music available DRM-free, "... means that Amazon MP3 customers are free to enjoy their music downloads using any hardware device, including PCs, Macs(TM), iPods(TM), Zunes(TM), Zens(TM), iPhones(TM), RAZRs(TM), and BlackBerrys(TM); organize their music using any music management application such as iTunes(TM) or Windows Media Player(TM); and burn songs to CDs.", according to the press release. Most of the services catalog of 2 million songs are available for download at 89 cents to 99 cents with albums ranging from $5.99 to $9.99. It's a nice compliment to Amazon's online CD sales.

Halo 3 reviewed

If you are on the fence about Xbox 360 or Halo 3 check this out! If this doesn't make you want to run out and get an Xbox 360 there's no hope for you... I think I know what I'll be doing until the wee hours this evening. Here is G4's The Feed with their review, enjoy!

Microsoft looking for a stake in Facebook?

The BBC is reporting that Microsoft is in talks with Facebook in an apparent attempt to acquire a position in the social networking site. The Wall Street Journal has the price tag for a 5% stake at between $300 million and $500 million which would value the company as high as $10 billion! Google is also thought to be interested but analysts have Microsoft pegged as favourites considering an existing relationship between the companies that has Microsoft as the exclusive provider of advertisements on the site. This could get interesting to watch!

Monday, September 24, 2007

iPod meets lego, how wonderful!

Thanks to Crave blog and a long list of other for this post... tenbyten Commerce Company, Ltd. a Korean distributor of all things plastic , or so it would seem, has an iPod doc that looks like a Lego brick! How geeky is that! The little red block comes with tiny little speakers too, I don't think it's licensed and I'm not sure it would fit together with the pieces of your Mindstorms kit, but how cool would that be! Looks like it comes in red, yellow, or blue.

Buy one, get one, laptops!

In an attempt to kick start the One Laptop Per Child project, Nicholas Negroponte has announced an initiative that he hopes will get the ball rolling. Saying “I have to some degree underestimated the difference between shaking the hand of a head of state and having a check written,” Negroponte and his team are now offering North Americans a chance to get involved. The marketing campaign called "Give 1, Get 1" allows Canadians and Americans the opportunity to purchase two laptops for $399, one will be donated and the other you are free to use as you see fit. The program runs from Nov. 12 to Nov. 26 and delivery is guaranteed before Christmas. The NY Times has the story here.

Pay for newspaper's online content no more!, the Globe and Mail's online business news site is discussing the demise of subscription based online newspaper content. With the New York Times abandoning the practice of charging for content last week and Rupert Murdoch the reported suitor of the Wall Street Journal considering the same, it could be the end of the practice. While other sites have already opted for the traditional web model of banner ads and pay per click, the move of these two sites is heralded as the end of subscription based content, at least in the news paper game.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Halo 3 Collectors Edition ships scratched!

G4's The Feed is reporting that some of the Halo 3 Collectors Discs are coming from Microsoft pre-scratched! Apparently it's only the Collectors edition that is affected as the regular edition is packaged in standard Xbox 360 packaging. The Feed recommends that you check your discs in-store in case there are any issues. According to the report, the scratches are not deep enough to affect the playing of the discs and are the result of a packaging problem.

Robot dinosaurs from Japan

Just surfing around YouTube and found this... thought it worth sharing. Disney has a similar animatron that I hope to see up close in a couple of months, though I don't think it will be quite as scary as the T-Rex in this video.

Flickr users see images popping up elsewhere without permission

In one of my very first posts, flickr = fame and fortune?, I wrote about being contacted by a photo editor at McGraw-Hill requesting permission to use a photo I had posted to my Flickr account in an upcoming book. I was thrilled and the experience has been very positive. Having taken courses in Multimedia design and working on projects that have incorporated stock photography and canned music, I am somewhat familiar with the requirements associated with copyrighted materials, and McGraw-Hill has been great.

According to this CBC report
not all companies are treating Flickr images with the same degree of respect, in fact there appears to be a serious lack of understanding for copyright even amongst very large corporations such as Virgin Mobile and Manitoba Telecom Services. In my case the image is being published in an upcoming math text and we were happy to give permission without expectation of compensation, other than giving credit in the book and a copy as a memento. In the Virgin Mobile case, a family from Dallas Texas had their daughters image plastered on billboards and used in web advertising! They are taking the company to court, and I'd probably do the same! Manitoba Telecom Services apparently believed that
that everything on Flickr was in the public domain and has since removed the images
. I can understand that the average web surfer does not grasp the fact that even though it can be easily obtained does not grant you the right to do so, I would expect however that advertising executives would be fully aware of copyright law!