News from the IT sector and anything remotely related that I find interesting. Check out Non-Tech City for more of my views, nicely diluted with that of others.
Monday, February 28, 2005
Imagine a Use For Old Computers
Imagine a use for old computers, the ones that people throw out or leave in cupboards gathering dust. One that was free for everyone involved, took very little effort to implement, involved no running or maintenance costs. One that also provided on a massive scale, free, unregulatehttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifd connectivity for all. Take an open source distribution of linux and cut it back to the bare-bones, giving it simple networking tools, allowing it to act as a wireless router. Remove all unnecessary cards and devices so that it's power consumption was reduced to a minimum and add solar power or some other free energy source.
Then take this box, and find a blind spot in the network and drop it there, leave it to connect to others, providing a grid of interconnectivity. Soon this would cover vast spaces. ISP's wouldn't like it, because you would be passing on a paid connection, so go around them. Write a new open source protocol: internet v2.0 - open source. Would this be breaking any laws? Would it be morally or ethically wrong in any way? The only legal problem I can see is that in these security conscious times unattended boxes all over the place could be a nuisance.
These machines could also have excess computing power, it doesn't take much to be a router. Maybe they could be under-clocked to save more power, but when the sun is out and there's no need to, they could donate their spare cycles to Seti@home or another of those types of program, again, becoming useful rather than becoming trash. Let's give ourselves a slightly larger budget and things get even more interesting, for example if we install a bluetooth adapter (they're all over eBay for a couple of pounds). Then imagine a kind of peer to peer music streaming, you wear a bluetooth ear-piece, and the PC streams your favourite songs to it, switching automatically to the nearest node, looking up your playlist from your website, or a centralised website where you enter your favourite songs. The songs could reside on your PC, or each node could hold a few, becoming a distributed library.
This is what distributed computing could be, but it won't. It will be RFID chips monitoring sales patterns and shoplifting, and it will be expensive pay-per-use wifi connectivity owned by ISP's and telephone companies.
If you have another use for old computers/hardware then please post it on our new forum, i'm going to try and compile enough ideas to write an essay on it.
Bill Cosby Wants to Sell You a PC
Call me cynical, but I don't think that Bill Cosby really knows all that much about computers. Oddly, he did appear in two computer ads, grinning away as he praised their virtues. There's 186 old computer adverts courtesy of 1000bit after this link, some of them are pretty interesting.
This looks very interesting, this project is trying to make interactive panels out of any flat surface around the house. The example use they give is making light switches that you can move around the walls without having to change the wiring. I want a keyboard made into the top of my desk, so I can use it to write on top of without having to move the keyboard.
MP3 Alarm Clock
Why haven't I seen one of these before? I sometimes use my PC to wake me up with an MP3, but that means I have to leave my HiFi/PC on all night. This is great, and it looks fantastic too. It has 256MB of flash memory, but claims to hold 8 hours of music, that must be at a pretty low bit rate.
Sunday, February 27, 2005
New X-Box 360 Pictures?
Is this the new X-Box? No. Probably not, it looks like it would cost a fortune to make, and will date very quickly. Look at the internals, it looks like a 1980's television! It's also copyrighted by Rune Larsen, at a place called cgnetworks.com which is a graphics design site. This is obviously a fake, but nice job Rune.
iBook Repair Saga No. 2
I had always been a PC user, until very recently when I purchased an iBook, partially motivated by the iPod I bought a while ago that i have been extremely happy with.
I bought the iBook around a month ago at the online education store, and received it soon after, I was very pleased with my purchase apart from one small issue.
When I first started using the iBook I noticed that the screen was ever so slightly off centre (it is able to rotate slightly so that it is sometimes correctly aligned and sometimes around 1-2mm off centre.
I did not think too much about it although I was slightly disappointed about the build quality, I thought that this was the reason that it was so much cheaper than the presumably better built powerbooks.
That was until I saw two other iBooks that friends purchased (partly due to my thorough recommendation) that did not suffer the problem at all, this is what encouraged me to call technical support.
I called Apple who told me that this kind of thing was all handled my local dealers now, and that i should call a company in another town in my county.
When I called this firm they said that they didn't know if it was covered by Apple warranty, but that they could open a file and check. however, if it was not I would be charged £40 inspection fee, I would also have incurred the cost of either driving it to the dealer (over an hour each way) or posting it twice.
The iBook is very new and in warranty, I would like to know why I am not able to have the machine looked at without the risk of having to pay £40, which I cannot afford. I have been using the iBook for several weeks now and have grown used to the issue as it does not affect the actual use of it in anyway, therefore I am no longer seeking an inspection or repair.
The inconvenience of it being away would far outweigh the problem itself.
I am however, informing you that this does not go very far to reinforce the reputation that Apple has as a friendly and efficient company, and as a recent switcher has made me realise that the level of service available is no higher than I used to receive with PC vendors (that level of service being one of my motivations to switch to Apple).
I merely encourage you to resolve this poor technical support before it creates reverse switchers, something that I do not wish to see, as Apple seems to be a far more creative and intelligent company that most others.
Microscopic Mr. T
This microscopic Mr. T image was found on a Dallas Semiconductor single-chip T1 transceiver integrated circuit, other images like this can be found at Molecular Expressions.
Holistic Computer Medicine
The Holistic Computer Medicine site has some interesting ideas on increasing uptime. Have you ever considered using crystals to ward off bad-vibes? How about distilling viruses down to one bit to use as a harmless cure for existing virii? (That's one hell of a compression rate, aas long as it's 2 way) Well, if you've tried everything else and you're still having problems then this may be worth a go, it can't do any harm, right?
Friday, February 25, 2005
Hackers May Target Pacemakers - Why?
Why, why, why, would hackers target pacemakers? What could there possibly be gained from doing that? The article mentions it briefly but then goes on to talk about the technology itself, the article is nothing to do with hackers really. The hacker angle was thrown in on purpose to allow the headline I would imagine.
iPod Recording - For Free
Apparently, all iPods have the capability of recording, but so that they're not used to record copyrighted material this is disabled. It may also be so that 3rd parties can flog recording devices for the iPod. There is a way around it, but don't get too excited - you have to install linux on your iPod to do it.
Here's a collection of iPod Shuffle art, this is becoming a bit of a phenomenon, I wonder why no one has embraced customising other pods? Their cost and screen covering blank space are an issue but there's plenty more standard iPods than shuffles right now. Go, now, customise your iPod. And leave a pic in a comment.
Personal Mobile Phone Jammer
There's a masters thesis based upon a Personal Mobile phone jammer, this is such a great idea, but if people start making these themselves then there could be serious problems in getting a signal in built up areas. That reminds me, I have to write my masters thesis soon...
I really want one of these now, on my desk keeping my coffee warm. Would have been far cooler if you could see the CPUs in the finished product though...
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Happy 50th Birthday Steve Jobs!
Tracking Real Objects From Cyberspace
I find this idea strange, there's no reason why I should as it's a perfectly good use of the internet. But it's what it allows us to do an know that I find odd, tracking packages at the UPS website, tracking books at bookcrossing and now I have seen this website that allows you to track dollar bills around the country. What a bizarre piece of information to be able to access; where has this note been before?
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
I uploaded this photo to my Flickr account today with some weird tags, because it was a weird photo. As i did so I wondered to myself, 'I wonder how many people have ever uploaded a photo and felt it fitting to label it "buggly"?'
So, I typed in flickr.com/photos/tags/buggly to see, and lo and behold there was only one.
This reminded me of Google-whacking; had I just stumbled upon the (very unoriginal) idea of Flickr-whacks? Does anybody have anymore?
I'd like this post to be a shining beacon to people like me, who in the course of a normal day waste vaste ammounts of time doing things like typing random words into Flickr.
Comment away with your Flickr-Whacks, Flickrwhacks, FlickrWhacking, whatever.
iBook Repair Saga No. 1
Damn, I was so excited about getting my iBook. Now the novelty has worn off, quick.
When I first got it I noticed that the screen was ever so slightly off centre, which meant that the catch didn't work quite as it should. Sometimes you have to press the screen down 2 or 3 times to get it to stick. It also looks a bit weird, even though it's only 1 or 2mm out.
I sort of decided that I could put up with it, and imagined that it was probably something you got if you chose to buy an iBoook rather than a more expensive powerbook. But since then I have looked at my brother's and my flatmate's iBooks, and this problem isn't evident on either of them. So, I called Apple and they said that they don't really deal with repairs anymore and told me to take it to the nearest Apple dealer. This turned out to be a 3rd party dealer which is in another county, so I called them. They said that Apple probably wouldn't cover this and would class it as damage. To find out if I could get it repaired I would have to take it all the way over there, and then if Apple decided not to pay out then I would have to pay a £40 engineer charge. Being a student I can't afford this, I can't afford an iBook, but I bought one because i'd heard great things about them. I will keep trying, but for now, I reccomend shopping elsewhere.
Monday, February 21, 2005
Bloggers of the World Unite!
Tommorow, on the 22nd, bloggers around the world are being asked to raise awareness of these men. Follow the link and read their stories, and then put a banner on your site. No-one should be imprisoned for something they've said, especially on the Internet.
Man Pleads Not Guilty to Hacking Tsunami Appeal
Still a lot of talk about the guy in London who used a non-standard browser to submit a donation to the tsunami appeal. It flagged some intrusion detector and now he's being charged. I don't know if he's innocent or if he was trying to hack it (sounds like the second to me), but if he is innocent then someone is going to have to say a BIG sorry. Not only was he trying to donate to charity at the time, but now all the public think he's an evil haxor.
Paris Hilton Blonde, Hacked.
Paris is once again in the spotlight, this time for having her phone hacked into. The Hacker managed to steal photos, address books and notes, all of which are now on the internet. More than a little bit annoyed that she's getting all this attention for nothing and there aren't more column inches about the great HST, RIP.
Friday, February 18, 2005
100 Greatest Gadgets of all Time
Mobile PC has an article listing the greatest 100 gadgets of all time (in their opinion, certainly not mine). Still, there's a few things in there that I remember.
I like to know how things work. This morning I woke up with a terrible hangover, so I did some research. Hangovers are a combination of symptoms:
Now that we know what causes them we can put together a post-booze strategy. First, lots of water before bed and in the morning to combat the dehydration. Second, some burnt toast as the carbon acts as a filter in your stomach. This won't cure it completely but should help considerably, isn't science wonderful?