Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Skynet military launch is delayed

The launch of the UK’s Skynet 5B military communications satellite from French Guiana has been delayed.

I should think so too. Did no one watch any of the Terminator films?

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Rachel on November 12th 2007 in End of the World, Technology, War

Shadow lamps to connect friends

Shadows are being used by Japanese researchers as an non-intrusive way for friends to stay in touch.
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This seems like a really nice idea. I think people use facebook and twitter and other vaguely similar social networking sites, so that they have an awareness of what their friends are up to. Pervasive tab-keeping as it were. I know that I may not have an actual vocal conversation with my friends for ages and ages because I live in a completely different town to… well, all of them actually, but I know for the most part, what they are all up to thanks to blogs and facebook.

This, on the other hand, I think would be really great for people who aren’t familiar with all this new-fangled technology, much like the Wii is great for people who aren’t “gamers” but want to give it a go and have a bit of fun. It’s more accessible.

I can imagine grandparents or young children really getting something out of this, because it could just sit on a nearby table and keep them in touch with their families who might be elsewhere – like at work.

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Rachel on August 17th 2007 in Cool Gadgetry, Technology

Opera 9.22

Having just upgraded from uh… 9.01, I have to say this speed-dial thing that Opera now has is pretty nifty.

Speeddial

The only problem I seem to be having is that the shortcut Ctrl+# doesn’t seem to actually bring up speed-dial or in fact do anything at all. However, that’s easily solved as Ctrl+t opens a new tab and Ctrl+n opens a new window, both of which will open with the speed-dial as default.

Handy. ๐Ÿ˜€

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Rachel on August 6th 2007 in Internet, Technology

Big fat supercomputer!

The world’s fastest commercial supercomputer has been launched by computer giant IBM.
Blue Gene/P is three times more potent than the current fastest machine, BlueGene/L, also built by IBM.

The latest number cruncher is capable of operating at so called “petaflop” speeds – the equivalent of 1,000 trillion calculations per second.

Approximately 100,000 times more powerful than a PC, the first machine has been bought by the US government.

How cool is that? I’m imagining using Second Life on this machine or in fact any game. Maybe setting up a whole bank of shiny flatscreen monitors so that I can game, browse the net, play music, catch up on emails, use graphics programs and a bunch of other things ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

I think I’d need some kind of extra arm transplant or something to really enjoy it. ๐Ÿ˜€

Of course, I’m sure they’re going to use it for far more sensible and serious things.

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Rachel on June 28th 2007 in Technology

The obligatory Second Life entry

Second Life.

At some point, I suspect nearly every blogger interested in technology will mention it. It’s just one of those things. Even the BBC is getting in on the act. I know a short while back they ran an article on the BBC news site about it and just the other day I was contacted to see if I wanted to appear in a tv show or news item about people who spend a lot of time in Second Life (I don’t think I spend nearly enough time there to count I suspect and they were looking for people whose lives had been changed by it in some way).

I’ve been an on and off resident of Second Life since last May (coincidentally, my Second Life “birth” day is only the day before my real birthday) and it’s been a lot of fun, even with the lag I suffer from. I spend a little over a week in January playing the Smokin’ Aces Assassin game in SL, desperately trying to shoot assassinate people who had already moved from where I could see them and failing to run away from people trying to assassinate me!

There are also a lot of nice looking sims to visit – including one I spent the last weekend wandering about in, which was a replica of an ancient Roman town.

The only real problems I have with SL are the lag I experience (mostly due to being on a wireless network and not exactly the fastest broadband connection in the world), the time it takes for stuff to rez and the odd occasion where my avatar’s hair or shoes randomly move. Then there’s also the resources that the SL program sometimes decides to eat up.

Mostly, all this means for me is that I don’t go into busy areas and try to get into SL in the morning GMT time, when the US is asleep and not in SL. It’s also limited my activities at the moment to just sightseeing, rather than roleplaying, opening a shop or buying land and constructing a house.

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Rachel on February 19th 2007 in Internet, Second Life, Technology

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Rachel on November 14th 2006 in Cool Gadgetry, Technology

Unconventional watches


These watches look very cool, though I guess they’re not really that practical. But then, they’re not meant to be practical and are instead a kind of commentry on the relationship people can have with their watches.

From the
Mr Jones Watches website
:

“Summissus revives the traditional memento mori – an object designed to remind people that death should be prepared for at any time. Summissus has a mirrored display that reflects the wearer and alternates the time with the statement, โ€˜Remember you will dieโ€. In this way Summissus fosters humility in the wearer.”

The Summissus is the watch on the left in the picture. I guess, aside from “fostering humility”, it could also make people worry less about other things. Day going badly? Don’t worry, you’re going to die some day. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Rachel on August 23rd 2006 in Cool Gadgetry, Technology