All items about technology

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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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i09 says that researchers have demonstrated true nanobot-scale manufacturing. This isn’t just building something really small: this is building something small that builds something. It’s a nanofactory. As we’re now learning, things that work at really small scales are subject to different laws–those of quantum physics–that may give them access to other sources of energy.

This research may one day give us efficient ways of building anything (an idea touched on Neal Stephenson’s book The Diamond Age.) This all sounds promising. Except… Read more »

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Man with camera attached to cycle helmet

What if you could remember everything? Not just birthdays and photos, but your entire life. Technology is now affordable and powerful enough to make this a reality. This is lifelogging – using computers to extend your brain and outsource your memory.

 

What is lifelogging?

Read more »

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French company Parrot demonstrated this impressive piece of technology at Web 2.0 Expo this week. It’s a flying camera drone, that hovers and stabilizes itself automatically in flight, is wirelessly controlled by an iPhone just by tilting the phone, and streams live video back to the phone. It uses augmented reality to overlay game elements onto that video, making it a “video game for real life”. It’s incredible that technology like this is now available to the general public – at one time only the military could access such technology. What will people use these for? Will it reduce the privacy of governments and celebrities?

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Satellite TV interference, by pkmital on Flickr

Galaxy 15, a communications satellite operated by Intelsat, has drifted off course while still transmitting, threatening to cause interference to communications networks and satellite TV reception for customers across North America as it drifts past competitor’s satellites. Here’s more, from the Register:

Engineers have sent more than 150,000 commands to the roving craft in an attempt to regain control of it. May 31 to June 1 will be the riskiest time for AMC-11 customers as its parent, SES World Skies, tries to position it as far as possible from the wayward Galaxy 15 while still allowing it to operate as normally as possible.

It’s a good reminder that when we design complex systems, we cannot always predict every eventuality, and should plan fail-safes and contingency mechanisms for when things go wrong. Read the original report from Space.com.


Image credit: pkmital on Flickr

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Physically visualizing your data

petitinvention

Today, we digitize everything, be it software, documents, music, art or movies. To the computer, it’s all bits (1’s and 0’s) but to us, not all bits are created equal.

Here’s a design concept for a USB stick that borrows a concept from drive-space software like WinDirStat or Disk Inventory X, and  shows how much data is stored, and what type it is, by illuminating lights of different colours – maybe pink for music, blue for data, green for images. Which could be pretty handy. More info here.

plusminus

Here’s another idea in a similar vein – The flashbag inflates to increase its size when it’s full, and deflates when it’s empty – a visual reminder to clear those files off.

Are we seeing the tip of the iceberg for a new way of thinking about our digital possessions?

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Video

This short (20 minute) film, “Play”, by David Kaplan and Eric Zimmerman, explores a world where the lines between augmented reality, virtual worlds and computer games have become so blurred that people begin to lose track of reality. Drawing on themes explored by films like The Matrix, Surrogates and Total Recall, this film is fascinating, thought-provoking and just a little disturbing.

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For those who have been a part of the AR community since its infancy and those who are just entering the field, these are very exciting times. After decades of research, mass market AR applications are finally viable and can be delivered on a variety of platforms. If developers, investors, analysts, and consumers can develop a real understanding of what AR can and cannot do, the future of AR technology is bright, and I look forward to its evolution as an innovative and inspiring medium for creativity, communication, and commerce.

There’s a lot of news around Augmented Reality, fueled by a flurry of apps for location- and video-enabled smartphones like the Android and the iPhone. Here’s a good overview of how some of them are blending the world around us with the virtual world. Read the full article at laboratory4.com


Image by Paolo Tonon

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Internet devices

Canadians spend more time online than watching TV, according to new research. Not surprising, since most of the content we encounter is born online. Blogs, e-mails, tweets and YouTube videos wouldn’t exist without the Internet. You need a connection. And since it’s largely just computers and phones that have Internet connectivity, this often means digesting this digital content on devices that weren’t designed for consumption. Read more »

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The e-memory revolution has begun

Vannevar Bush's Memex concept, from 1945

In this Sep 2009 episode of NPR’s On Point, Tom Ashbrook interviews Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell, authors of the new book “Total Recall: The E-memory revolution”. Gordon Bell has, for over ten years, been digitizing his entire life as part of the MyLifeBits project, inspired by the concept of a “Memex” (pictured left), put forward by Vannevar Bush in 1945. Bell outsources much of his memory to computer systems designed to make him more effective. The book (and the podcast) explore the ways in which this e-memory revolution has already begun and will transform aspects of society from privacy and healthcare to learning and extra-marital affairs.

Listen to the episode (streaming audio provided by NPR).

Image credit: Memex image by p373 on Flickr

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