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Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category

I spy for you and me

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Rock WerchterFans who attended Rock Werchter, the Belgian music festival that ended Sunday, were being tracked by Bluetooth scanners as they enjoyed the music of  Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, Fleet Foxes, Metallica, Oasis and numerous other bands.

Researchers from the University of Ghent set up a network of 36 Bluetooth scanners at the festival site as well as on a few surrounding roads and bus stops that noted each of the 80,000 daily attendees as he or she came within 30 meters (approximately 100 feet).

The resulting data is the first time a large crowd has been tracked in a live situation, according to the researchers. They added that privacy wasn’t a concern since they only tracked MAC addresses (the unique identifier assigned by the manufacturer) and therefore cannot be linked to an individual user.

Some fans who attended the UK’s Download Festival last month encountered a different unexpected Bluetooth application. Local police and the Leicestershire Drug and Alcohol Action Team asked if they wanted to opt in to receive free informational animated messages. Among those that were sent out were friendly advisories on alcohol and drug use.

(Title lyric from the Dead Kennedys.)


Written by chris

July 6, 2009 at 9:55 pm

I’m falling in love, my Walkman and me

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walkman tvIt’s been 30 years since Sony Corp. introduced the Walkman to an amazed world. Somewhere deep in my closet of obsolete gizmos that I can’t bear to part with is a Sony Walkman that not only played stereo cassettes with auto-reverse, it also had an AM/FM tuner and – in what was cutting edge for the time (1986?) – received a few channels of TV audio.

I couldn’t find the exact model on Pocket Calculator’s Walkman Museum, but subsequently I was surprised to learn that newer ones are still available.

(Title lyric from Veruca Salt.)

Written by chris

July 4, 2009 at 2:00 am

Posted in Culture, Hardware

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Those commercials was our intermissions

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simpsonsTop-rated TV shows, like The Simpsons and CSI, can now command higher ad rates online than they can for their regular prime-time showings. A Bloomberg story goes into this in some depth: The Simpsons, for example, gets $60 CPM on Hulu and $20-$40 CPM during prime-time.

Gigaom emphasizes that Hulu caps its ad breaks and therefore its potential revenue. Analyst Michael Nathanson pointed out that a Simpsons episode on Hulu has just 37 seconds of ads compared to a broadcast episode’s nine minutes.

It’s nice to get some numbers starting to prove the higher CPM value that should be obvious intuitively. (It’s also amazing how surprised some TV traditionalists are by these numbers.) Online viewers have actively chosen to watch the program instead of finding the least-bad show for while they zone out. They also know that online ad breaks are short – therefore viewers sit through them rather than go to the bathroom or refrigerator.

(Title lyric Jim Jones [nsfw].)

Written by chris

June 25, 2009 at 10:21 pm

Posted in Hardware, Television

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Your true colors start to show

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totalrecallDr. Yadong Yin has figured out a way to mimic nature’s iridescent colors in a controlled manner using magnetochromatic microspheres. Butterfly wings, bird’s feathers and other naturally occurring iridescence is caused by light waves cancelling each other out in some places and reinforcing them in others, as the Economist explains. Dr. Yin does it by using a magnetic field to rearrange the microstructures of incredibly tiny iron oxide polymer beads suspended in oil.

Earlier reports noted that the bead goo was liquid, so its practical applications were limited. But now Dr. Yin has progressed to where the bead goo only has to be liquid when it’s actively changing color. This opens up possibilities for ink, textiles, environmentally safer paint, and posters that can be updated in situ – just heat it up, change the colors however you like, then let it cool and solidify again.

Personally I’m thinking of fun with nail polish and lipstick, like the receptionist in Total Recall.

(Title lyric is from A.F.I..)

Written by chris

June 25, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Watch out

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mio_moov500_turn_globalMio is releasing satnav with an integrated TV tuner (via /. ) in the UK.  The Mio Spirit line was introduced at CES, but TV capabilities weren’t announced until it showed off the Mio Moov V500 (pictured) and V700 range at Computex Taipei 2009.

The device audibly warns you not to watch TV while driving, and it repeats the warning if it detects movement faster than 5 mph. What could possibly go wrong?

“It’s not intended at all for drivers to use while they are driving,” a Mio spokesperson assured PC Pro magazine, adding that the ability to watch television on the move was for users travelling by bus and for children travelling in the back of a car.

But getting back to geekphilia, the devices also have things like multiple ways of finding points of interest, a button that captures on-the-fly location and voice memos, and pre-loaded photos and travel information.

(Title lyric by Chris Cornell.)

Written by chris

June 23, 2009 at 11:45 pm

Posted in Hardware, Television

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High on a windy hill, the turbine did whine.

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bat infraredWind turbines, like those used to generate electricity in wind farms, are killing bats without even touching them. The primary theory for this tragic reality is that the change in atmospheric pressure is enough to cause hemorrhaging in the bats’ lungs.

A Boston University study in the Journal of Wildlife Management used infrared video (pictured) in its research. You can read the entire report here [pdf link].

(Title lyric by Neil Young/Crazy Horse.)

Written by chris

June 23, 2009 at 9:57 pm

Posted in Hardware, Uncategorized

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What life would be like with a giant screen TV.

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minority_reportSchematic is showing off its Touchwall, a giant multi-touch video screen, at the 2009 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

The Touchwall measures 12 feet long by five feet high and gives attendees touch access to the complete festival program, 3D maps of the event and surrounding area, and information on local restaurants and bars.

But as an indication of its future capabilities, the Touchwall also enables attendees to schedule meetings with each other and to trade contact information over email.

(Photo is from Minority Report. Title lyric from Soul Asylum.)

Written by chris

June 23, 2009 at 11:55 am

Posted in Hardware, Internet

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