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John Gilmore once said, “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” And when people are connected via the Internet, it’s hard to put obstacles in their path, too. Take this case of a Latvian photographer prevented by security guards from taking pictures of a building.

A few tweets and one 40-person Flashmob later, we have more photographs — and probably many more people aware of the situation — than we ever did before.

(BTW, the server is slow at best, so you may have to be patient.)


An interview with James Burke

When I was very young, a TV series called Connections changed my life. It was an ADHD-filled ride through history and science, showing us how everything we took for granted stood on the shoulders of giants.

I just found this interview with the author and narrator of that series, James Burke, conducted by Gartner. It’s a great read; if anything, Burke has underestimated the pace of change.

Read more »


An Atari 130XE, one of the more obscure 80s home computers

For a while, in the 1990s and early 2000s, the computing landscape was simple: Everyone used Windows. The Windows PC had become the dominant computer, supplanting the myriad platforms of the 80s: Acorn, Amiga, Atari, Commodore, Sinclair and others, which caused everyone no end of headaches with incompatibilities. Developers had to choose which platforms to support, as there were too many to support them all, and consumers were left with a difficult choice about which to buy, and often ended up regretting their decisions.

This article by Ben Werdmuller reminds us that we may now be entering a similar age of chaos. We have Windows, OSX and Linux on the desktop, HTML5, Flash and Silverlight in the browser, and Android, Blackberry, iPhone OS, Symbian (Nokia’s platform), Windows Mobile, and many others on the smartphone, not to mention new devices like the iPad or Microsoft Surface and new operating systems like Google’s Chrome Web OS.  Ben argues that the most likely outcome is to standardize on the Web, regardless of device, as we did on Windows in the 80s.

Myself, I’m not so sure, at least not until we have web standards for features like multi-touch, location awareness and 3D navigation. But it’s certainly true that we now face those same difficult choices as consumers or developers that we did in the ’80s.

Read the full article


Techcrunch has a writeup on Windows Live Essentials’ new Photofuse technology, which lets you pick from several similar pictures and create a new, optimal one. When revisionist editing gets this simple, poidh doesn’t apply any more.

Complete writeup on Techcrunch.


Highest definition picture ever taken of Cape Town; 9 gigapixels, 25Gb storageNext week the FIFA World Cup kicks off in South Africa. We’ve written previously about virtual tourism, the idea that you can explore a place before you go ever physically go there.

Unfortunately Google Street View hasn’t been to Cape Town yet, but map layer specialists Virtual Africa have produced a series of “hyper-definition” images which allow you to zoom from a vista of the whole city right down to the level where you can see construction workers building the Green Point Stadium (this first image was taken last year).

This image pushes the limits of current photographic and processing technology, clocking in at 9 gigapixels and 25 Gigabytes of storage. The source image apparently takes an hour to load! Click the image to zoom and explore Cape Town from the comfort of your own home. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a hidden Wally/Waldo.


Look out Snow Crash and Strange Days: a British researcher says he’s the first person to become infected with a computer virus.

It’s just a proof of concept, but Dr. Marc Gasson of the University of Reading showed that he could infect an implanted chip (used to open doors and activate his phone) and have that virus passed on to other devices.

While the example seems trivial, it does offer some tantalizingly threatening possibilities: what if I infect your pacemaker, then use that to extort money from you in order to keep it working?


We’ve written previously about the benefits of bringing Internet-enabled screens to different parts of the home. This video from Jesse Rosten shows how with a couple of packets of Velcro and an iPad, you can change the iPad from a handheld Internet device into a way of putting information exactly where you need it, hands free.

In the future, perhaps iPad-like Internet touchscreens will become so cheap we can just install these permanently on our walls and into our appliances.


You may have heard of Big Dog, the four-legged robot developed by Boston Dynamics to carry equipment into battle, an electronic “pack mule” that can navigate a wide range of terrain.

But you might not have seen Little Dog, a Chihuahua to Big Dog’s Great Dane. Here’s a look at how far miniaturization and computing power have come in recent years.

Nice footsoldiers, Skynet.


This video from Carnegie Mellon University and Microsoft demonstrates the Skinput project, which uses a combination of audio and vibration sensors and a handheld projector to create buttons and displays on your forearm, which can then be used to control anything from MP3 players to cellphones. Devices are getting smaller and smaller, and the size is often defined by the size required for input and output. This is a significant step forwards towards removing that restriction.


Who owns your digital media?

Shoeboxes of Tapes, on FlickrIn  this episode of NPR’s Science Friday podcast from last year, New York Times columnist Randy Stross talks about how we’re now entering an age where our digital “products” are no longer ours to own.

When you buy music as an MP3 (assuming it’s not protected) you can copy or transfer it freely, to be used as wish, just as cassette tape recordings used to be. But in a world of controlled devices such as the Kindle or Apple’s iPod and iPad devices, it’s no longer to separate the “product” (be it an app, an e-book or an interactive website) from the device you use to consume it. Companies now have the ability to change the content, the experience or your access, after you have purchased it. Sometimes the content will be hosted online, in the cloud, which means you can access it anyway, but you’ll also never truly possess it.

Should we just accept this change, and be happy we won’t be carrying our media around for the rest of our life in shoeboxes, or should we fight to hold onto our rights of ownership so that we can be free to watch, read and listen whenever and however we want?

Read more, or listen to the MP3.

Image credit: draggin on Flickr.

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