RSS remains the greatest

From Wired “It’s Time For An RSS Revival“:

The platformization of the web has claimed many victims, RSS readers included. Google Reader’s 2013 demise was a major blow; the company offed it in favor of “products to address each user’s interest with the right information at the right time via the most appropriate means,” as it Google executive Richard Gingras put it at the time. In other words, letting Google Now decide what you want. And the popular Digg Reader, which was born in response to that shuttering, closed its doors this week after a nearly four-year run.

Despite those setbacks, though, RSS has persisted. “I can’t really explain it, I would have thought given all the abuse it’s taken over the years that it would be stumbling a lot worse,” says programmer Dave Winer, who helped create RSS.

It owes that resilience in part thanks to social media burnout. Stankov says search traffic to Inoreader has nearly doubled since 2015, all organically. “RSS readers have not only survived in the era of social media, but are driving more and more attention back to themselves, as people are realizing the pitfalls” of relying too much on Facebook and others, Stankov says.

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.

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. 😀

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. 😀

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 🙂