Monday, August 29, 2005
Fighting Wildfires with Robotic Planes
The Bats from the MLB Company are man-portable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) systems which can deliver high quality video imagery for a reasonable price of about $42K. They've been on the market for a while, but now, NASA and Air Force teams are testing them as flocks of robots aircrafts for monitoring wildfires, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
These planes have a wingspan of 5 feet, weigh only 15 pounds, and can fly for up to six hours. The best thing is that they can fly during nights, thus avoiding any potential conflicts with other aircrafts -- such as air tankers dropping fire retardant.
Still, they are awaiting a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval before being allowed to fly around passenger-carrying aircrafts. Read more for other details, pictures and references about the MLB Bat.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Virtual Facilitator Improves Team Management
If you ever have had to moderate meetings with interdisciplinary groups, you know it's difficult, especially if these groups come from different countries. And a skilled facilitator can be expensive if he's not part of your organization.
Now, researchers from the University of Missouri-Rolla have developed a virtual facilitator which will improve a team performance by helping people share ideas and stick to the original agenda of the meeting. They've already successfully used their software tools with more than 100 student teams.
And now, they're working on customized versions of this software for specific applications, such as soldiers training in Iraq, where real facilitators might be hard to find. This overview contains more details and comments about this software.
Friday, August 26, 2005
The Loud Report: American Analog Set, "Born On The Cusp"
There's some kind of audio crack in the AmAnSet's work, some combination back there that has vibraphone in it and something else I can't quite tell. Between that and the whole soft-voiced hipster-easy-listening thing, plus great melodies and showing just enough steel in the arrangements (in this one, anyway), it looks like another great album from these cats. If you like this song, they've got more.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
A 30-gram Indoor Flying Robot
It's not always easy to explore small buildings in dangerous areas and even more difficult to see what might be hidden in a cave or a tunnel. In this short article, the MIT Technology Review describes the results obtained by Swiss researchers with a small robotic aircraft.
It only weighs 30 grams for a 80-centimeter wingspan and can flow inside a building for about 4 minutes. With its two 1-gram cameras, a gyroscope, and a small microcontroller onboard, it can detect walls and automatically avoid collisions.
The team is now working on even smaller versions of these flying robots which will be used for search-and-rescue, reconnaissance, and inspection applications. Read more for other details, pictures and references about this flying robot which might save lives one day.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Google Launches IM/VoIP Application
As rumored, Google launched Google Talk today, an instant messaging/VoIP application based on the open Jabber protocol. The app is Windows-only at the moment, but since it's based on Jabber, Mac and Linux users can connect using a number of Jabber-compatible clients. Download Squad has a brief review.
Monday, August 22, 2005
Bob Moog Dies at 71
Bob Moog, inventor of the Moog synthesizer and widely regarded as the father of electronic music, died Sunday at the age of 71, four months after being diagnosed with brain cancer. Bob's family have also just announced the formation of The Bob Moog Foundation dedicated to the advancement of electronic music.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Honey Bees Help to Find Land Mines
Buried land mines kill more than 15,000 people each year worldwide. At the current removal rate, it will take about 450 years to clear the world of undetected anti-personnel land mines. Many detection methods have been tried, including the use of high-tech ones, such as ground-penetrating radar, infrared imaging, acoustic and seismic methods.
But right now, the most common technique is the use of dogs who locate buried land mines through smell. Still, the dogs need to be accompanied by men. And their combined weights can inadvertently cause the explosion of a mine, putting them in constant danger.
Now, researchers from several U.S. universities are training honey bees to locate buried land mines through odor detection. This overview contains more details and references about how honey bees are about to help us to save lives.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Locked Out CBC Workers Set to Launch Net-based Media Service
For the past week, about 5,000 employees of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) have been locked out due to a labour dispute. Now, the Canadian Media Guild says it plans to launch an internet-based media service produced by locked-out CBC employees. In a statement on their website, the group said " [j]ust because the Corporation won't let us go to work doesn't mean we can't do the work we love to do!", adding that "[v]arious ad-hoc groups have been meeting in Toronto and around the country to develop the idea. The CMG leadership has now approved the project and, since we are without a collective agreement, there are no conflict issues to prevent us from providing quality content to our audiences."
A name for service hasn't been announced, but the CMG says it will initally be a "text and picture site", followed by an English National daily newscast available as a podcast, and possibly some "moving picture TV elements."
The Canadian Media Guild is now looking for volunteers to work on the service but expects it to be ready to launch sometime next week. More on this as it develops.
[Via Clickable Culture]
Friday, August 19, 2005
The First Peer-to-Peer Geolocation Service
Three months ago, I told you about a Boston-based company, Skyhook Wireless, which is using Wi-Fi networks to provide location-based services (LBS). But this solution relies on a static database of access points updated once a year.
Now, a New-York-based start-up company, Navizon, offers a better solution, with its peer-to-peer wireless positioning system which relies on dynamic databases always up-to-date. Users need a free piece of software and a GPS device or a WiFi and/or Cellular enabled Pocket PC PDA. When you're walking or driving, you're able to get your exact location in real time, and companies can send you messages about a restaurant of a film opening near the place where you are.
The beauty of this plan is that the company doesn't need any support from big telcos or Wi-Fi providers. The company, which started the service last week in New York, Toronto and Miami, expects to be profitable soon. Read more about this brilliant concept of harnessing the collective power of the users to deliver LBS.
Too Many Roads Lead to Traffic Congestion
In all networks, like road or airline traffic networks, the Internet, cancer tumors or industry supply chains, you need to pass packets from node to node, such as cars, information or data. But which are the most efficient, decentralized networks or hub-like centralized ones?
According to Technology Research News (TRN), researchers from Oxford University, U.K., have designed a model which maps traffic congestion. This model combines roads going through the center of a city and other ones avoiding it. And they found that, from a cost point of view, it would be sometimes better to close roads going through cities than adding more.
They also think that these conclusions can be applied to almost all kinds of networks, biological ones or created by humans. This overview contains more details, references and illustrations about this network model.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
NYC Blogs Break Murder Story
As FishBowlNY reports, a number of New York City area blogs broke the news of a murder yesterday morning outside of Teany, the teahouse owned by Moby. Sarah at Ultragrrrl appears to have been the first with the story, posting a first-person account. Gawker followed shortly, posting a photo from the crime scene (seen here). In a statement on his blog, Moby said "i don't know any of the details regarding this awful, random, and horrifying act of violence, although i do know that it had nothing to do with teany or any of teany's employees."
[Via Clive Thompson]
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Salon Selling The Well
CNET reports that Salon is putting The Well, one of the Internet's earliest and most influential online communities, up for sale. Salon purchased The Well in 1999 but chief executive officer Elizabeth Hambrecht says the company now wants to concentrate on its own brand, adding that "[f]inding another owner for The Well that will give it the resources it requires and deserves is the way we'd like to approach this." For more on the history of The Well, see Katie Hafner's 1997 Wired cover story, The Epic Saga of The Well.
Your Personal Data at Your Fingertips
This story could come from the imagination of a screenwriter working on the next James Bond movie, but it's reality. Japanese physicists have found a way to store data inside your fingernails by using lasers. And, more importantly, they were able to read this data by using an optical microscope.
Technology Research News reports that storing data in our fingernails could lead to new ways of authentication.
Of course, data is only available for six months. After that the fingernail has grown and the data has disappeared. Still, the researchers think that such a method could have some practical implementations within three years. Read more for other details and references about this new way of storing data.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Rockstar releases "No More Hot Coffee" patch
This past week, Rockstar Games, the creators of GTA: San Andreas, released a patch to remove the controversial "Hot Coffee" mod from the game. The patch is called "No More Hot Coffee". According to Rockstar's News site:
"A patch has been released to prevent and remove the "Hot Coffee" modification from the PC version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The "Hot Coffee" scenes were not intended to be part of the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas experience. If your copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for PC has been altered by the unauthorized "Hot Coffee" download circulating on the Internet, or if you wish to prevent your version from being so altered."This redirects you to their No More Hot Coffee page, which provides installation instructions and a contextual FAQ explaining what "Hot Coffee" is and how to "avoid" the scenes. The FAQ also states that the scenes "were not intended to be seen or to be part of the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas experience" but does not address the more obvious question: why were they there in the first place?
.xxx Domain on Hold
BBC News reports that the Bush administration has asked ICANN, the organization that oversees domain names, to delay the launch of the .xxx domain name until its impact can be studied further. The domain was expected to get final approval today, but ICANN has agreed to a one month delay. The idea for the .xxx domain by those who proposed it was to make sexually-explicit sites easier to idenfity and filter out, but some are concerned that it would encourage more porn on the internet.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Will a SoulPad Replace your Laptop?
I'm sure that many of you are sick and tired to carry their laptops during your trips. Of course, you can use a USB key ring to carry your data to access it from any other PC. But what about having a handheld device, such as an iPod, containing the full image of your computing environment, and restoring this whole environment on another PC anywhere in the world?
Thanks to researchers from IBM, it is now possible to use the SoulPad system, a portable device carrying a stack of software. The host PC, which can be of any variety, "boots an auto-configuring operating system (Knoppix) from the SoulPad, starts a virtual machine monitor, and resumes a suspended virtual machine that has the user's entire personal computing environment."
Now, the IBM team is thinking to use cell phones as well to carry the SoulPad system as soon as they have enough disk storage capacity. This day, it will feel easier to travel... In the mean time, read more for other details and references about this new development in pervasive computing.
The First Solar-Powered Wi-Fi Network
Wi-Fi networks are becoming increasingly common, but the one deployed on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado, one of my preferred cities in the U.S., is unique.
It is the only solar-powered wireless network in the U.S. according to internetnews.com. The first access points are now operational since July 15. This solar-powered network is composed of four dual units and needed only $10,000 to be deployed.
And the company which developed this new kind of wireless access points, Lumin, is thinking to make portable and secure wireless networks in developing countries. Read more for other details and references about this exciting new development in wireless technologies.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
The Gladiator Robot's First Public Appearance
Two years ago, I told you that the Gladiator Robot will join the Marine Corps. Now, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the six-wheeled combat robot, designed and developed at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), made its debut last week.
This new U.S. unmanned fighting vehicle can fire machine guns, nonlethal sting balls or tear gas. It could be used for reconnaissance, surveillance and direct-fire missions. CMU will deliver six prototypes of the three-ton robots by 2007 to the Marine Corps, which could deploy about 200 Gladiator vehicles in combat zones around 2009 if the prototypes work as intended.
Each Gladiator should cost between $300,000 and $400,000. Read more for other details and references about the newest gladiator in town.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
HumanML, the Human Markup Language
The Human markup language (HumanML) is a new specification developed by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) -- and also our new acronym for this week.
One of its goals is to improve human-to-human, human-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. This long article from DM Review, which covers business intelligence and data mining, says that this new markup language can be the basis for tools helping us mining massive volumes of textual and multimedia content.
In fact, HumanML wants to represent human characteristics (cultural, physical, psychological, etc.) in such a formal way it can be delivered as machine readable subtext via the use of extensible markup language (XML). Read this summary if you don't have time to look at the original article.
Monday, August 08, 2005
Peekaboom Will Teach Computers to See
Computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) are developing and using online games to train computers to better see according to this article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
One of these games is Peekaboom, used online for free by teams of two players. The first one, designated as "Peek," sees on his screen an image -- initially empty -- and a word that describes the image or one element of the image. The second one, named "Boom," gradually reveals the image or gives hints to "Peek" until he correctly guesses the word associated to the image.
And this use of "segmented" images might improve "computer vision" by "teaching" them how to identify objects. But read more for other details about Peekaboom before playing...
Saturday, August 06, 2005
Remote-Controlled Robots Explore 'Lost City'
A large team of oceanographers is again exploring 'Lost City,' an hydrothermal vent field located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, which was discovered in 2000 and named like this because of the myth of Atlantis.
But this time, the oceanographers are not on a ship. Most of them are in a room at the University of Washington in Seattle. And according to this article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, they're using high-speed Internet connections to control robotic vehicles exploring the deep Atlantic Ocean thousands of miles away.
Thanks to satellites, the remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) Argus and Hercules can transmit videos back to Seattle in real time. After analysis, the scientists can move the ROVs to specific areas of interest without having their feet wet. Read more for other details, references and pictures about this project.
Friday, August 05, 2005
The Loud Report: Get Him Eat Him, "Mumble Mumble"
True story, funny story: the other night I was IMing with my girlfriend, wondering what I was going to do with myself for the night, and I was thumbing through some local show listings online and said to my girlfriend, "Hey, I could go see a show by a band called Get Him Eat Him." That is the end of my story and I hope you enjoyed it. This band could go a long way on their name alone, but it turns out they also make music very much like if there were an exhibit at the Wonders of Life pavilion at EPCOT Center that let you make indie pop, instead of, you know, feeling how hot and cold pipes feel lukewarm when you grasp them at the same time, or having your golf swing analysed by a robot. At least, they do if "Mumble Mumble" is any evidence. Check the evidence yourself; I guarantee it will brighten your Friday.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Software Agents Can Help Time-Stressed Teams
Penn State researchers have developed software agents which can help human teams to react more accurately and quickly in time-stressed situations than human teams acting alone. According to this news release, the software was tested in a military command-and-control simulation.
"When time pressures were normal, the human teams functioned well, sharing information and making correct decisions about the potential threat." But when the pressure increased, the human teams made errors who would have cost lives in real situations. The decisions taken by agent-supported human teams were much better.
Now, it remains to be seen if this software can be used in other stressful situations, such as for emergency management operations. Read more for other details, references and illustrations about this project.
Monday, August 01, 2005
A DNA Spray to Catch Burglars
I guess it was just a matter of time before someone thought about using DNA to identify robbers. According to two short articles from the The Telegraph and The Register, a security company based in Wales, U.K., has designed a spray that can mark the skin and the clothes of intruders.
The i-powder contained in the spray carries a "uniquely-traceable DNA code" registered to the owner and can be easily detected for several weeks. And it seems to be efficient, with recent trials by several police forces resulting in 100 per cent conviction rates.
But are these sprays safe for their owners if they have to give a verbal warning to the intruders before using them? Read more for other details and pictures of these devices.
Can Cell Phones Damage Our Eyes?
I'm sure you've read dozens of stories about how our cell phones could be dangerous to our health, causing brain tumors for example. But so far, there is not a definitive answer.
But now, according to IsraCast, a team of Israeli researchers has discovered that the microwave radiation used by our cell phones could destroy our eyes by causing two kinds of damages to our visual system, including an irreversible one. If the researchers are right, and even if you only occasionally use your cell phone, the lenses in your eyes can suffer from microscopic damages that won't heal themselves over time.
As this study has not been done -- yet -- on humans, I guess the controversy can begin and that another scientific team will soon tell us that this study is not correct. In the mean time, read more for other details and references. And whether you think that cell phones can damage our eyes or not, feel free to post your comments below.
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january 26, 2006
Telephone Repair Handbook
Mark Pesce & Angus Fraser
In a three-part feature, Mark Pesce
and Angus Fraser propose a complete rethinking of a technology that
everyone depends on: the telephone.
may 30, 2005
Burgess: The Mindjack Interview
Melanie McBride recently caught up with Broken Saints creator Brooke
Burgess to talk about long form Flash and the way of this Broken Saints
may 13, 2005
is Good? How Battlestar Galactica Killed Broadcast TV
by Mark Pesce
the first part of a two-part article, Mark Pesce looks at how a re-visioned
70s camp classic changed television forever.
may 21, 2005
is Good? Part Two: The New Laws of Television
by Mark Pesce
the final part of a two-part article, Mark Pesce lays out some new rules
for television, which he says are good for everyone unless you're
february 01 , 2005
Future of Money
by Paul Hartzog
Paul Hartzog examines the changing nature of money and what might be in
store for the currency of tomorrow.
november 05, 2004
Without Borders: Digital Culture and Decentralization
by Paul Hartzog
Hartzog rethinks sociologist Saskia Sassen's idea of the Global City and
how it may or may not apply to digital culture.
august 31, 2004
Ads Invade Gamespace
by Tony Walsh
do you get when you cross the world's most measurable medium with the
world's most immersive medium? Video games peppered with Internet-style
banner-ads. This new method of marketing allows measurable demographic
data to be collected from the elusive online gaming community, targeting
dynamically-downloaded advertisements at specific demographics. The promise
of a new revenue stream is obviously attractive to advertisers and game
publishers, but will the idea win over gamers?
july 20, 2004
Gaming's Quiet Revolution
by Tony Walsh
Today's avatars in massively multiplayer environments like
Second Life are giving their users the gift of expression and infusing
games with something more, soul.
june 25, 2004
by J.D. Lasica Reports
collaborative work tools and the drawbacks of social software took center
stage at this year's Supernova. The third annual tech-in-the-workspace
conference "Where the decentralized future comes together!"
drew more than 150 technology thought leaders, software startup CEOs and
other heavy hitters (alas, fewer than 20 of them women) to the Westin
Hotel in Santa Clara, Calif., on June 24-25.
may 24, 2004
Digital Radio Be Napsterized?
by J.D. Lasica
Recording Industry Association of America has discovered that digital
radio broadcasts can be copied and redistributed over the Internet. The
so the RIAA, the music business's trade and lobbying group, has asked
the Federal Communications Commission to step in and impose an "audio
broadcast flag" on certain forms of digital radio.
may 17, 2004
by Mark Pesce
the earliest days of television, writers like George Orwell in 1984
and Ray Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451 projected television as the
instrumentality of a totalitarian future - a monolithic entity dispensing
propaganda. And, if any of you occasionally watch Fox News, you can see
they weren't that far off the mark. But here's the thing: the monolithic
days of television are numbered. Actually, they've already passed - though,
as yet, very few people realize this.
april 19, 2004
Blogging, Equality, and the Future
the mainstream media's interest in blogging at a fever pitch, Mindjack's
Melanie McBride takes a critical look at the future of blogging and talks
to some of the bloggers trying to shape it.
april 12, 2004
Copyright Law and its Challengers
A profile of Jed Horovitz and his documentary Wilfull
Infringement, about his struggles with Disney over copyright laws,
and other individuals who have run into similar problems in their creative
march 11, 2004
Is Nothing Sacred?
Digital Music for a Digital Age
by Ian Dawe
nothing sacred?" This was the rallying cry, some years back, concerning
sampling. Pioneered by the fledgling hip-hop artists, with its roots in
music concrete, sampling is the art of extracting snippets of music from
other recordings and re-assembling them into a new piece, usually based
around some kind of electronic beat. Theft, it was called. Another phrase
applied to it was "art".
december 12, 2003
by Donald Melanson
software is the latest "next big thing" to get technophiles
excited and VCs interested. What exactly it is, few can describe.
In some respects, it is nothing new at all, but rather a means of connecting
and defining previously disparate elements. Mindjack editor Donald Melanson
takes a look at one group that has taken this idea and run with it, before
the idea ever had a name: film and DVD enthusiasts.
october 29, 2003
Variables for Understanding Online Communities
by Andrea Baker and Bob Watson
article is an attempt to discuss some of the qualities that define virtual
communities. It is a work in process, an exploration. The twelve variables
we've selected are most likely not all that exist, just the ones we find
most important in our thinking right now. These variables struck us as
important ways in which communities are differentiated despite the type
of software chosen to carry a given community.
october 29, 2003
by Nicholas Carroll
was puzzled the first time I read about "knowledge management." How can
you manage knowledge -- much less shuffle it around an organization --
when knowledge is a construct in an individual mind? People in information
science and neurobiology were of the same opinion: you can manage information,
but not knowledge. Knowledge is something that lives between your ears.
It has to be reduced to information to be organized, stored, and transmitted."
september 18, 2003
The Myth of Fingerprints
newest contributor, Ian Dawe, examines the history of identification technology,
from passwords to fingerprints to DNA.
The Trouble with e-Voting
is one of those things Iíve been dreading for several years. Since it
first became a technological possibility, the thought of all of the security
risks involved has been swarming in my head like a hornetís nest. On the
surface, it sounds like a beautifully democratic thing Ė each person anywhere
in the world just needs to get him or herself to a computer in order to
vote. But when one puts together the current legal ramifications and the
technological flaws, itís actually rather scary.
Have iPod, Will Travel
reviews the iTrip FM Transmitter for the iPod from Griffin Technology.
Alexander on The Matrix Reloaded
to The Matrix faces a series of challenges. It must satisfy, then exceed
its audiences appetite for imaginative fight scenes. It needs to
work with the science fiction concept of split-level reality, going further
without undoing the premise. Fidelity to an ambitiously defined alternate
world isnt crucial, yet unlike the situation of the Star
Wars and Lord of the Rings movies. However, a sequel is bound to plumb
the first movies underworld of technological fear and cultural theory
riffing. The Matrix: Reloaded attempts all of these, but diffuses, throwing
itself into an open, unsettled finale
may 26, 2003
examines the online, interconnected groups of people that you turn to
for advice on music, art, fashion, books, etc., and the broader implications
of these taste tribes.
may 05, 2003
Outside The MUD
CEO Stewart Butterfield on the Game Neverending
Sugarbaker talks to Stewart Butterfield about his company's take on massively-multiplayer
march 21, 2003
State of Digital Rights Management
Bryan Alexander reports from the
Berkely DRM Conference.
February the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology held a conference
to demonstrate and push the limits of DRM. For a sunny weekend in northern
California, representatives of computer science, entertainment, media
companies, Congress, the FTC, European copyright law, and the occasional
cypherpunk, offered their versions of DRM, while holding each other's
notions up to fierce scrutiny.
march 21, 2003
Two Degrees of Separation
In an entirely
unscientific study, Sarah examines the uncanny social connections that
sprout from the Silicon Valley populus.
march 10, 2003
Machine Than Flesh
essay of Rodney Brooks' Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change
february 17, 2003
reputation management" is reminiscent of the political term "spin control."
But the Internet is not traditional media, and opportunities for controlling
one's reputation are quite different – in theory unlimited, but in practice
limited by an almost inherent lack of focus, and the countervailing weight
of mainstream media.
november 04, 2002
The Internet Archive
away in one of the seediest neighborhoods of San Francisco is a roomful
of over two hundred computers with a terabyte of data stored on every
october 28, 2002
The Transmetropolitan Condition
An Interview with Warren Ellis
has never been a better time to read the work of comic book legend Warren
Ellis. From the formulaic pornography of news coverage to the on-going
ineptitude of our world "leaders", Ellis delivers an intelligent and savagely
funny antidote to global idiocy. The creator of Transmetropolitan, Planetary
and Global Frequency talks to Mindjack about his work, our times and the