Lovin' An Elevator -- Or Not
New elevators in skyscrapers with multiple banks of lifts don't have buttons inside them -- instead, you punch in your destination while you're calling the elevator, and the controlling computer directs people to cars that are going to floors that are close to each other.
First, a confession: Like a lot of tech enthusiasts, I'm a long-time science fiction reader (and a sometime science fiction writer), and so articles that describe new inventions, technical gadgets, or future possibilities always catch my attention.
If An IT Manager Finds Kiddie Porn On The Company President's Computer, Should He Call The Cops?
That's a question posed to the New York Times's "The Ethicist" column. The columnist, Randy Cohen, has a completely insane response: The IT manager should remain silent.
The questioner writes: "I am an Internet technician. While installing software on my company's computer network, I happened on a lot of pornographic pictures in the president's personal directory, including some of yo
Ancient Computer Reveals Unexepected Technical Sophistication
The Antikythera Mechanism -- a device from ancient Greece dated between 150-100 B.C.E. -- has been examined with modern imaging technology and, according to researchers, the device shows "an unexpected degree of technical sophistication for the period."
Best Comments From The IW Blog Community
Our community participants speak out on the World of Warcraft French connection, Microsoft's litigation threats against Linux users, Apple's possible tablet PC, and employees Web surfing on company time.
Gingrich: Government Needs To Limit Free Speech
WCSH6 in Portland, Maine: "Gingrich Says Government May Have To Limit Speech In Terror War: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich used a New Hampshire event dedicated to freedom of speech to say the United States will have to re-examine that constitutional right as it fights terrorism." He reportedly singled out the Internet as a channel that needs "a different set of rules."
This story has been making the rounds of the Int
Get Ready To Party Like It's 1975
Hobbyist Grant Stockly is selling reproductions of the Altair 8800 assembly kit. The 8800 was a pioneering personal computer, which users put together for themselves from a kit. Stockly's reproduction includes original and new components. "Every part required to complete the kit is included except the power co
The 'Obvious' Importance Of Tuesday's Supreme Court Case
How big a deal is Tuesday's U.S. Supreme Court case, which will explore the "obviousness" test for issuing patents? Consider this observation from an Associate Press article on the Washington Post: That 85 percent to 90 percent of the patent office's work focuses on determining obviousness.
DMCA Exemptions Leave Most Consumers Out In The Cold
Late last Wednesday, while the rest of us were out shopping for last-minute Thanksgiving essentials, the U.S. Copyright Office let fly with a list of exemptions from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The exemptions provide much-needed relief for libraries, the disabled, researchers, and price-conscious cell phone users, but they are framed in excessively narrow terms, and they don't address the chief problems that the DMCA creates for most consumers.
Your Tax Dollars At Work
The developer of a new computer wargame developed by the U.S. Army says he was required to dumb down the enemy forces. "A new video game commissioned by the U.S. Army as a recruiting tool portrays the nation's military in 2015 as an invulnerable high-tech machine," said Wired News..
Gamers on Battlefront.com give the title good reviews, but complain about the game being paid for with their tax
Cracks In The DMCA's Facade
Foretelling the future is a tricky business. For instance, last week I wrote here that I wanted the new Democratic Congress to repeal the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (otherwise known as the DMCA). I must have seen something coming, but I didn't get it quite right, because Wednesday the Librari
Make Your Own Nifty iPod Case
This is neat -- use a hollowed-out hardcover book as an iPod case.. But first you'll need to know how to hollow out a book to put a secret chamber in it..
For added niftyness:
Chatroom Addiction? Huh?
A former employee is suing IBM, which fired him after they caught him going into a chatroom. He says he's addicted to chatrooms, and IBM should have offered him counseling. He says it's a form of self-medication he uses because of his Vietnam-induced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He says IBM offers counseling for people with worse problems, such as alcoholism and drug addiction.
Read the article
TiVo And Universal Advance The Copyright Conflicts
There's been a lot of action recently in the ongoing copyright conflicts over distributing music, movies, and TV shows online. But the two most interesting developments have to do with TiVo introducing a new feature that amounts to hanging a "SUE ME" sign on their backs, and, separately, Universal finding an innovative, and possibly groundbreaking, legal strategy in its copyright lawsuit against MySpace.
Are Song Parodies Fair Use?
Universal Music seems intent upon seeing how far it can push back fair use of copy righted materials on the Web. According to TechDirt, Universal is sending cease and desist letters to sites hosting a parody of U2's "One." The cover in question features a Bank of America employee singing about the company's recent merger throug
Fleck Lets Users Annotate Web Pages
Fleck lets users add notes to Web pages, viewable by other Fleck users. Unlike other Web-annotation services, it doesn't require you to download and install anything on your PC or in your browser.
This is a relatively crowded space, the two services I'm most familiar with for collaborative annotation are
A Nintendo Wii Review That Will Make You Say, "Aaaaaawwwwww."
Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder has a sweet review of the Nintendo Wii:
Nintendo sent me a Wii last week. I'm not a big gamer, but I like playing the Gamecube and DS with my nine-year-old daughter, even though she always beats me. (I don't own a Playstation or XBox, and haven't really used either).
Calcanis Leaving AOL
Blogger-entrepreneur Jason Calacanis left AOL after chief executive Jonathan Miller was replaced.
Mr. Calacanis sold his company, Weblogs Inc., a network of blogs, to AOL last year and continued to run it from offices in Santa Monica, Calif. This year he took over Netscape.com, transforming it from a Web portal into a
A Couple of Zune Corrections
"Write in Haste, Correct at Leisure" is my motto. So here are a couple of leisurely notes on my very hasty first look at the Microsoft Zune media player that appeared yesterday.
Tech Toys For The Holidays
When was it that you were hit with your first Christmas commercial this year? For me, it was sometime right after Halloween, when I was watching a local TV station and was suddenly confronted with that overweight guy in a red suit who was urging me to think about what I wanted to get my friends this year.
Apple iPhone: Mid-2007?
FoxConn Electronics in China is lined up to manufacture the iPhone, Apple's rumored cell phone. They'll hit the market with 12 million units in the middle of next year. That's according to a report on CNN/Money. The guy from CNN/Money says he read an article in Chinese in the Commercial Times. So this is hardly reliable; don't whip out our credit cards just yet. OK, bloggers --
And It Doesn't Have Custom Ring-Tones, Which Is A Plus
Artist Duncan Wilson has created a wireless communicator that looks like the two-Dixie-cups-and-string we all played with as kids. "Tug the cord to activate, squeeze to talk and hold to the mouth and ear," he says.
I'm going to quote the entire rest of the text from the page now, just
Cheap One-Laptop-Per-Child Assembly Line Gets Rolling
The first 200 units in the low-cost One Laptop Per Child project rolled off the assembly line. Full mass production is due to start in the second quarter of 2007,
The OLPC laptop features a 2.6.19 Linux kernel, and an integrated user environment called Sugar that includes a web browser, a chat system, a simple word processor, and other basic software components. Additional applications will be availabl
MIT Researchers Working On Wireless Power
Researchers at MIT are working on technology to allow you to get rid of the power cords for your electrical devices. A phenomenon called "evanescent coupling" would allow electricity to fly through empty space, allowing you to power up your laptop computer, cell phone, or any other electrical gadget at a distance of up to several meters, without the use of power cords. Previous
Beating Back 'BlackBerry Thumb'
Uh-oh, time to call the lawyers? Come to think of it, better make that HR, too! One of the latest cautions making the rounds has "Crackberry" addicts suing their employers down the road over repetitive strain injuries attributed to overuse of the popular handheld email device and similar devices.
Apple Cutting Deals To iPod-Enable Airlines
Apple is working with six airlines to provide seat connections for iPods, to allow passengers to power their iPods, and view videos on seatback screens. Neat. The airlines are Continental, Delta, United, Air France, Emirates and KLM. The service will begin in mid-2007.
Video: Here's What An Exploding Laptop Looks Like
The gang at PCPitstop rigged up a notebook computer to make its battery explode. "If this were a real-life situation, the best strategy would be to move away from the laptop, quickly," the narrator says. Ya think?
Universal Music Head Says iPod Owners Are Thieves
"These devices are just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it," UMG chairman/CEO Doug Morris says.
Some may be thieves, but all iPod owners are customers and potential customers of UMG's product. Big media companies like Universal routinely think of their customers as the enemy, and they talk about it publicly. That's a good way to put yourself out of business.
Excuse Me, Michael Copps, You're The Good Guy
Last week I was spitting nails about the Federal Communication Commission's decision in the Logan Airport WiFi case. But it turns out I was spitting them at the wrong person. I called Commissioner Michael J. Copps the thief-in-charge at the FCC. My mistake. That would be FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin. Copps, a Democrat in his second term on the commission, has fought the good fight agains
Online Music: Hold On To Your Wallets
Eventually, Apple and Microsoft will be forced to raise their fees to help cover the costs of the deals with the music labels, and I'm guessing this will likely mean higher prices for the songs themselves or for the monthly subscription services.
Broadband In The Sticks: Tough Nut To Crack
As a long-time home office employee living just outside a mid-size city, I've been spoiled with access to broadband, using it as my sole means of connectivity to my employer since 1995, when I was very early user of ISDN. Since 1999 or so, I've been using a cable modem, and am about 99% satisfied with how it's performed over that period. That's a pretty good track record.
Mac Envy At Web 2.0
It's 11:00 a.m. I'm sitting in the audience of a session at the Web 2.0 Conference, and I'm terrified. The power cord for my IBM ThinkPad snakes across the aisle, barely visible on the blue carpet, to one of the few power outlets in the eastern wall of the room.
Tech Gadgets With Girl Cooties
The Register is running a trio of stories with a common theme:
ALLC (aka. A Little Lingerie Company) is selling a thigh-mount garter that doubles as a cell phone/MP3 player holster.
Medion has a laptop computer with a case studded in simulated diamonds.
Are iPod Users Better People?
Boing Boing co-author and InformationWeek contributor Cory Doctorow has a review of Steven Levy's history of the iPod: The Perfect Thing.
It sounds like a great book, and the iPod sure is a great product. And yet there's something creepy about some of the community of Mac and
The Top Reader Photo Is...
A couple of weeks ago, I asked for your favorite photos among many submitted by your peers. Seems the majority of you agreed with my pick for best photo, "The Sentry," which got 35% of nearly 900 votes. Congratulations, Tom McClure (and son).
The response to our reader photo gallery was so positive I plan to make this a regular feature.
FCC Wants Wi-Fi To Be Free? Don't You Believe It
At first I was excited, then it hit me: The FCC's action in the Logan Airport Wi-Fi dispute was hardly a decision in favor of freer, more open access to the Internet. In fact, it was the opposite, and business as usual for a federal agency that in its present incarnation has an absolutely breathtaking record for stealing from the poor (that would be us, the citizens of the United States, who own the airwaves) and giving to the rich.
Should H-1B Employers Pay For U.S. Students' Degrees?
Would more Americans pursue technology careers if those students got their college educations for free? The Programmers Guild, an advocacy group for U.S. tech professionals, thinks so.
In fact, the guild is about to announce a new proposal advocating that the U.S. government provide "100% subsidies" of tuition and expenses for American students enrolled in degree programs in computer science, engineerin