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Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Ads Have Eyes

Watch a video advertisement in a mall or grocery store and be aware that the ads might be watching back! Though in limited use at the moment, some video ad displays are now making use of small cameras and software to determine the gender, age range and, in some cases, ethnicity of the viewer and then change the ads accordingly.

“This is pro-active merchandising,” says Vicki Rabenou, the chief measurement officer of Tampa, Fla.-based TruMedia Technologies Inc., “You're targeting people with smart ads.”

As the CBC points out it sounds a lot like Minority Report... but no retinal scans yet!

During a recent trip through Boston's Logan airport I spotted a video ad that reacted to the movements of passers by. I thought at the time that it was a clever way to draw attention to the ad but perhaps they were gathering a little insight into me as well?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mars Spirit Rover Showing It's Age?

Even though it acknowledged receipt of it's commands for the day on Sunday, Mars rover Spirit failed to carry out the commands sent from the command centre at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. The rover also failed to record the days activities to it's memory. "We don't have a good explanation yet for the way Spirit has been acting for the past few days," said JPL's Sharon Laubach, in a statement. "Our next steps will be diagnostic activities."

I think we can forgive the little guy! Sunday marked Spirit's 1,800th Sol (Martian day) on the planet, not bad for a mission that was supposed to last 90 days...

Source: CBC

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Google Teams With Researchers To Identify ISPs Who Throttle

Google announced on Wednesday the launch of a new offering, Measurement Lab (M-Lab), an open platform that researchers can use to deploy Internet measurement tools. Googles plans are to provide researchers with 36 servers in 12 locations in the U.S. and Europe over the course of 2009.

"Today, M-Lab is at the beginning of its development. To start, three tools running on servers near Google's headquarters are available to help users attempt to diagnose common problems that might impair their broadband speed, as well as determine whether BitTorrent is being blocked or throttled by their ISPs. These tools were created by the individual researchers who helped found M-Lab. By running these tools, users will get information about their connection and provide researchers with valuable aggregate data. Like M-Lab itself these tools are still in development, and they will only support a limited number of simultaneous users at this initial stage."

Google has been open in the past about it's desires for net neutrality and M-Lab looks like it's aimed at ferreting out the offenders. "At Google, we care deeply about sustaining the Internet as an open platform for consumer choice and innovation. No matter your views on net neutrality and ISP network management practices, everyone can agree that Internet users deserve to be well-informed about what they're getting when they sign up for broadband, and good data is the bedrock of sound policy. Transparency has always been crucial to the success of the Internet, and, by advancing network research in this area, M-Lab aims to help sustain a healthy, innovative Internet."

Source: Official Google Blog

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Autonomous Robots Used By Staples, Zappos, and Gap

Autonomous robots are making order picking easier for several big retailers. The robots made by Kiva Systems look like an over-sized orange Roomba and are charged with the task of finding the appropriate shelf that holds an item and delivering that shelf to a picking station where a human picks and packs the product.

"It's a major game-changer. There's no question about that. You can increase productivity immensely," said Michael Levans, editorial director for a group of supply-chain trade magazines like Logistics Management. "The Zappos guys claim that from the moment you put your order in and it is submitted to the time the box is on the dock and ready to be put on a truck is 12 minutes."

Check out the video...

Source: Wired

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Vice-President's Home Unblurred On Google Maps After Cheney Moves Out

Under the Bush administration many government facilities have been deliberately obstructed from view in Google Earth, Google Maps, and other such mapping applications. Oddly not long after former Vice-President Dick Cheney vacated the official Vice-Presidential residence, in the partially converted Naval Observatory located just a few kilometres northwest of downtown Washington, the satellite image of the complex appeared on Google unobstructed.

According to the Globe and Mail "Google receives some of its data from the U.S. Geological Survey, which is responsible for the blurry images of the vice-presidential house. However, the company also gets overlapping information from other providers. One such update last week just happened to coincide with the administration changeover in Washington."

Coincidence? Let the conspiracy theories begin...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monty Python's YouTube channel

From cheese shops to candid shots and all things in between... iTunes and Monty Python have struck a deal to bring us all the wonderful comedy of the comic troop. This is the best news I've heard in a very long time!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Internet Users Top 1 Billion Mark

The internet surpassed the 1 Billion user mark for the month of December 2008, according to the most recent figures. “A key driver to that growth has been its ability to break down cultural barriers and cross over country borders,” said Jamie Gavin, senior marketing and communications analyst at U.K.-based comScore. With the proliferation of internet enabled cellphones the number is expected to continue to raise.

Geographically the numbers are up everywhere, "The Asia-Pacific region accounted for the highest share of global Internet users at 41 per cent, followed by Europe at 28 per cent and North America at 18 per cent.", according to the Globe and Mail.