Archive for November, 2006

Police to fingerprint on streets

Motorists who get stopped by the police could have their fingerprints taken at the roadside, under a new plan to help officers check people’s identities.

I know there’s a lot of concern about how this is all Big Brotherish and turning the UK into Orwell’s “1984” state but my concern about this mobile fingerprinting is slightly different.

My problem with this is that the devices used to take the fingerprints is bound to be something that will get dirty and not correctly capture fingerprints – possibly giving incorrect information to the police officers involved. This is especially a problem if the fingerprint capturing surface is made of glass or plastic – it’s bad enough when you get fingerprints on windows and mirror, but having a glass surface full of mucky fingerprints when you’re trying to use fingerprints to identify someone is wacky and crazy. I’d be interested to know how they get around this potential problem.

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Rachel on November 22nd 2006 in Technology

Computer industry ‘faces crisis’

The computer industry faces a skills crisis, the president of the British Computer Society has told BBC News.

Unless steps are taken now, there will not be enough qualified graduates to meet the demands of UK industry, warned Professor Nigel Shadbolt.

Prof Shadbolt said there was increasing demand but decreasing supply of graduates in computer science.

As a computer science graduate, this story makes me giggle a bit. Mainly because I’m now working in an area nothing to do with computer science. In fact, studying computer science may well discourage graduates from going into that area when they enter the workplace. I know I certainly learnt to hate programming and a number of my fellow students learnt to hate computers entirely.

Coupled with a seemingly high drop-out rate for Computer Science degrees (I’m sure only about a third of the students I entered university with stuck around to graduate), I’m not surprised that there is this concern about a lack of graduates.

One solution would perhaps make Computer Science more attractive to female students – I was one of only two girls graduating with my particular degree, and there can’t have been more than 40 girls total graduating from my department. Alternatively, another idea would be to give oppotunities in IT related careers to people without Computer Science degrees, but relevant experience and expertise from other sources.

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Rachel on November 20th 2006 in Technology

Loc8tor – tracking your stuff

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A new electronic gadget called the Loc8tor uses radio waves and multiple aerials, plus some fancy software, to locate postage stamp sized transmitters which can be attached to almost anything, within a range of up to 600 feet.

This thing sounds really useful. I know I put things down and then spend ages looking for them. It’d also come in handy when trying to find my glasses (if an incredibly small chip could be developed to attach to my glasses) as the loc8ter device is far easier to see when not wearing glasses than my glasses are.

This could especially be very useful for paticularly scatty people who have a heck of a lot of gadgets, keys and other small items.

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Rachel on November 20th 2006 in Cool Gadgetry, Technology

Concrete monitor

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This screen comes from the people at Innovation Lab, who have embedded optical fibers that work like pixels into concrete. The optical fibers can be lit to create monochromatic images. Even more amazing, the optical fibers work with natural light as well as artificial light, making it effectively transparent. This technology has many applications for architecture and urban planning. I’m particularly interested in it’s application in transportation infrastructure, such as subway stations, highways, and sidewalks.

This is really cool and would could be used for advertising in places that have a lot of concrete, like car parks, or just to make them look less dreary. Another good use would be for information for pedestrians on the street, about stuff in the local area and offers in nearby shops. There are probably loads more nifty useful uses as well as the usual arty just looking cool kind of uses. 🙂

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Rachel on November 14th 2006 in Cool Gadgetry, Technology

Google Checkout

“When we’ve had to contact Google about issues (such as the suspected fraud), we’ve received intelligent customer service and the problems were quickly resolved. Contacting PayPal customer support, on the other hand, has been a complete nightmare. Automated response hell, followed by canned responses that didn’t address our issue, followed by silence.”
TechCrunch

That alone is enough to tempt me into using Google Checkout. Any alternative to paypal is worth a look actually, though I’m going to have to investigate if and how I could use this with ebay. Even without being able to use it with Ebay, it could certainly be useful for selling on forums and on my journal. Something to think about.

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Rachel on November 12th 2006 in Internet, Money