andygates: (Default)
This article over at Engadget has put its finger on what I've been feeling for some time now: that the time has come for a way of working one's tech so that the same session persists over many devices and types of device.  Topolsky calls it a continuous client and leaves it open how that might be implemented, but he absolutely nails the problem it's there to address:

Just now, I was reading one of my favorite blogs on my laptop, but I wanted to relocate to my couch, and I wanted to switch to reading on my iPad. Of course, this required starting a new browser session, calling up the web page, and finding my place once again. This same situation now occurs constantly with Twitter (where I'll have to read and re-read timelines depending on whether I'm checking on my phone, laptop, or iPad), Facebook (a mess similar to that of Twitter), and even in my IM sessions (different locations, different conversations, different logs). There is no continuity in my call logs, text messages, or notes when seated with my laptop or desktop, and there is no way in which to continue working on something in an application on two platforms without tremendous effort. Frankly, it's a mess.

It's the kind of user-interface witchcraft Apple are so good at, and it will be a game-changer. 

But who am I to talk?  We're still having trouble making single sign-on, continuous client's eight-cell zygote predecessor, work properly here in the cubes. 
andygates: (Default)
Wired's collection of silly bike apps for the iphone had me mooching through the app store even though I don't have one.  See, silly apps like the spoke calculator were part of why I got a Palm, way back when.  And sure enough, the same apps are back again - the spoke calculators and the one-rep max calculators and all that good stuff.

Granted, the brake light that uses the accelerometer to flash a rude message on the screen, that's new.  If you could preset it so that in the morning and evening rush hours and in certain areas it flashed pithy appropriate messages, I'd be impressed.
andygates: (Default)
I've just signed up with BT FON, a decidedly sharey, huggy approach to broadband from BT and .  Your wifi box reprograms itself to appear as two devices: your regular home device, and an open BT Openzone router as well.  FON users (that's Foneros, ay caramba) from around the world can connect to this as an ad-hoc Openzone network point. 

The router restricts FON connections to a 512k portion of your line, plenty for that ad-hoc connection but not so much as to hurt your regular usage or make it fun to camp on your router.  There's a hotspot finder that I've been playing with, wandering the streets with my weblet.  You use the same credentials for FON as for regular BT Openzone sites, and the finder will show both.

It's not something I'd expect to use much -- maybe when my router explodes -- but it's nice to share and nice to have more options.  Somewhere a few years in the future there's a ubiquitous multi-standard network cloud, a commodity we'll look back on like electricity and water as a basic component of civilization, and FON seems a smart step in that direction.
andygates: (Default)
The Japanese are making a start on space-based solar power, working towards a 1GW prototype station in twenty years or so.  I am fat with grins at this news.

Space-based solar power (SBSP) and nuclear fusion are both Big Future Tech approaches to making a metric fuckton of clean electricity.  The difference is this: fusion requires fundamental physics advances (notably, now that a fusing plasma can be created, research needs to be done into how to keep it fusing away happily - the analogue of flame physics for combustion).  SBSP is just engineering.

A wise person will observe that the greatest of engineering projects can be solved by hurling enough cash, resources and manpower at it.  SBSP is amenable to an Energy Manhattan Project in a way that fusion is currently not.  There are obstacles, sure, but surmountable ones.

A cautious person might ask just why exactly we're giving anyone an Orbital Deth Lazor.  Good news: we're not.  The power density is actually far too low to bake the flesh from your crispy human bones, and under normal operation there'd be a stack of cutouts to kill the beam if it wandered off track.  Keeping the beam - a microwave laser in most plans - on track is just optics and computing power, and the Japanese can do those in their sleep.  Most of the objections you're thinking of right now have already been talked out by a boffin think-tank last year (web 2.0 saves the world?).
andygates: (Default)
Take the walking robot technology of the utterly awesome robot mule BigDog (video, it's impressive).  Add the navigational brain of a DARPA Grand Challenge winner.  Season with a dash of Japanese helper-robot behaviour and wrap it all in a cuddly skin from the Pleo guys.  What do you get?  You get kids riding to school on Chocobos and baby dragons and Pok√©mon.

War tech can be fun!

(Darker minds among you may look at BigDog being kicked, and be thinking that Robot Wars might be about to come of age.  My Klingon dog will take your velociraptor, any day.  Bring it on.)
andygates: (hellboy)
Behold the Ribcap, a hat or helmet-liner made with something called d3o, a responsive material which is flexible normally but goes rigid and energy-absorbing on impact (website - wikipedia).  This is a goofy tank helmet liner one from Streetgadgets which made me think of Tank [personal profile] ravenbait, smokin' a fag and smashing beer bottles over her head just because.

Could it mean the death of the bike helmet as oldschool cotton caps get techno?  I'd love to think so.
andygates: (Default)
This is what happens when you give a tablet computer to a 4 year old:

l'm sure that says something about the natural goodness of the tablet form factor and interface!
andygates: (Default)
Here's a cool green-energy technology that looks to bring the cost of solar PV down nice and sharply.

Current PV is expensive because the silicon is expensive and so are the lenses and mirrors which collect light. By using sticky holograms - just like fancy birthday-present stickytape - light is collected without all that heavy precision glass, and since you collect the light you can use less silicon.

Though I gotta say, "holographic light collectors" sounds a lot cooler when you think of it as a huge projectable 3D image that bounces light. I mean, that'd rock.


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