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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 "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 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...