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February 20 2014

Four short links: 20 February 2014

  1. Practical Typography — informative and elegant.
  2. Nokia Treasure Tag — Bluetooth-chatty locators for keyrings, wallets, etc.
  3. Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility — signals for those looking to identify dodgy content, as well as hygiene factors for those looking to provide it.
  4. App Trains You to See Farther (Popular Mechanics) — UltimEyes exercises the visual cortex, the part of our brain that controls vision. Brain researchers have discovered that the visual cortex breaks down the incoming information from our eyes into fuzzy patterns called Gabor stimuli. The theory behind UltimEyes is that by directly confronting the eyes with Gabor stimuli, you can train your brain to process them more efficiently—which, over time, improves your brain’s ability to create clear vision at farther distances. The app shows you ever fuzzier and fainter Gabor stimuli.

May 29 2012

Four short links: 29 May 2012

  1. South Korean Kinect+RFID Augmented Reality Theme Park -- Sixty-five attractions over seven thematic stages contribute to the experience, which uses 3D video, holograms and augmented reality to immerse guests. As visitors and their avatars move through the park, they interact with the attractions using RFID wristbands, while Kinect sensors recognize their gestures, voices and faces. (via Seb Chan)
  2. Digital Citizenship -- computers in schools should be about more than teaching more than just typing to kids, they should know how to intelligently surf, to assess the quality of their sources, to stay safe from scammers and bullies, to have all the training they need to be citizens in an age when life is increasingly lived online. (via Pia Waugh)
  3. Simulating Anatomically Accurate Facial Expressions (University of Auckland) -- video of a talk demonstrating biomechanical models which permit anatomically accurate facial models.
  4. Depixelizing Pixel Art (Microsoft Research) -- this is totally awesome: turning pixel images into vector drawings, which of course can be smoothly scaled. (via Bruce Sterling)

April 12 2011

Four short links: 12 April 2011

  1. The Email Game -- game mechanics to get you answering email more efficiently. Can't wait to hear that conversation with corporate IT. "You want us to install what on the Exchange server?" (via Demo Day Wrapup)
  2. Stratified B-trees and versioning dictionaries -- A classic versioned data structure in storage and computer science is the copy-on-write (CoW) B-tree -- it underlies many of today's file systems and databases, including WAFL, ZFS, Btrfs and more. Unfortunately, it doesn't inherit the B-tree's optimality properties; it has poor space utilization, cannot offer fast updates, and relies on random IO to scale. Yet, nothing better has been developed since. We describe the `stratified B-tree', which beats all known semi-external memory versioned B-trees, including the CoW B-tree. In particular, it is the first versioned dictionary to achieve optimal tradeoffs between space, query and update performance. (via Bob Ippolito)
  3. DisplayCabinet (Ben Bashford) -- We embedded a group of inanimate ornamental objects with RFID tags. Totems or avatars that represent either people, products or services. We also added RFID tags to a set of house keys and a wallet. Functional things that you carry with you. This group of objects combine with a set of shelves containing a hidden projector and RFID reader to become DisplayCabinet. (via Chris Heathcote)
  4. shairport -- Aussie pulled the encryption keys from an Airport Express device, so now you can have software pretend to be an Airport Express.

March 18 2011

Bundesrat fordert datenschutzrechtliche Regelungen zu RFID

Der Bundesrat hat mit einer am 18.03.2011 angenommenen Entschließung die Bundesregierung aufgefordert, datenschutzrechtliche Reglungen zum verbrauchergerechten Einsatz der Radiofrequenz-Identifikations-Technologie (RFID) zu treffen.

Die Bundesregierung soll nach dem Wunsch der Bundesländer eine Empfehlung der EU-Kommission zur Wahrung der Privatsphäre und des Datenschutzes in RFID-gestützten Anwendungen in nationales Recht umsetzen.

February 08 2011

Four short links: 8 February 2011

  1. Erase and Rewind -- the BBC are planning to close (delete) 172 websites on some kind of cost-cutting measure. i’m very saddened to see the BBC join the ranks of online services that don’t give a damn for posterity. As Simon Willison points out, the British Library will have archived some of the sites (and Internet Archive others, possibly).
  2. Announcing Farebot for Android -- dumps the information stored on transit cards using Android's NFC (near field communication, aka RFID) support. When demonstrating FareBot, many people are surprised to learn that much of the data on their ORCA card is not encrypted or protected. This fact is published by ORCA, but is not commonly known and may be of concern to some people who would rather not broadcast where they’ve been to anyone who can brush against the outside of their wallet. Transit agencies across the board should do a better job explaining to riders how the cards work and what the privacy implications are.
  3. Using Public Data to Fight a War (ReadWriteWeb) -- uncomfortable use of the data you put in public?
  4. CouchOne and Membase Merge -- consolidation in the commercial NoSQL arena. the merger not only results in the joining of two companies, but also combines CouchDB, memcached and Membase technologies. Together, the new company, Couchbase, will offer an end-to-end database solution that can be stored on a single server or spread across hundreds of servers.

January 03 2011

December 17 2010

ePayments Week: Google goes patent shopping

I'll be tracking payment-related news, products and ideas in the weeks to come. Below you'll find a number of recent developments that caught my attention.

Google's mobile payment purchase

We've been waiting to see how and when Google will move into the mobile payments space. It looks like we may not have to wait much longer. At the Web 2.0 Summit in November, Google CEO Eric Schmidt demoed a location-smart purchase on an anonymous black phone that appeared to be running an upcoming version of Android 2.3 (code named "Gingerbread"). But it wasn't Schmidt's purchase on stage, but a purchase by Google last summer that may shed more light on what was going on behind that demo. Tech M&A blog Inorganic Growth revealed this week that Google bought Toronto-based Zetawire, a low-profile mobile startup with patents involving "mobile banking, advertising, identity management, credit card and mobile coupon transaction processing."

The Nexus S, the first Android 2.3 phone, went on sale this week (check out Engadget's review). Since Gingerbread supports near-field communications (NFC), the promising wireless technology that improves on Bluetooth (faster) and RFID (more focused and secure), we should soon have a better idea whether the mobile payments revolution is well underway or just a step closer.

Video of Eric Schmidt at Web 2.0 Summit is below:

For me, Visa? You shouldn't have.

Visa launched its iPhone app this week. It appears to be a timid start for an organization whose chief executive recently boasted that they intend to compete head-on with PayPal.

At launch, the app is offering an ATM finder and location-smart coupons from a number of vendors. This app's potential lies in its promise to learn a customer's buying habits and serve targeted offers. I was a little surprised that Visa wasn't able to do more of that targeting on its first try. By entering my credit-card number and agreeing to terms, I no doubt gave access to years of transactional data. My enthusiasm for the app will likely never be higher than the day I installed it, so an opportunity was missed. I was also disappointed by a bevy of untargeted offers: chocolates, day spas, and jewelry stores. My Visa app seems to think I'm a trophy wife.

Does FarmVille need ads?

Most social games are only able to sell virtual goods to 1 to 3 percent of their players, raising questions about how Zynga (and other social-gaming companies) will continue to thrive if they don't pounce on revenue streams like advertising. An AdWeek report on the Social Gaming Summit held in New York earlier this month suggests that as the dominant player, Zynga doesn't have to worry about ads right now -- perhaps because it's making enough from sales of virtual goods in its games. Still, an exec cited in the AdWeek piece noted that "not monetizing 95 percent of your audience isn't a great model." Sounds a little like public radio -- with mafia and pirates, of course.

Got news?

Suggestions are always welcome, so please send tips or news here.



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