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January 02, 2010

I'm Concerned I May Have Crossed a Geeky Rubicon

My family gave me an iPod touch for Non-Denominational Gift...

Continue reading "I'm Concerned I May Have Crossed a Geeky Rubicon" »

Photo Gallery: A Catalog of Things Rendered Obsolete in the Last Decade

A Catalogue of Everyday Stuff That Has Become Extinct - The 00's Issue-- New York Magazine

December 31, 2009

Inside every Victorian is a Faraday cage blocking your wi-fi

Culprit in Wi-Fi Failures: Chicken Wire - WSJ.com
The problem dates to before drywall became a popular building material in the 1950s. Before then, construction crews usually made walls out of plaster applied to lath, a base structure that holds it up. Often, lath in Victorian and Edwardian-era homes was made of wood stapled with chicken wire, a cheap fencing material that also doubles as lightweight support. The problem occurs in other cities too, but San Francisco has an unusually dense collection of old homes and gadget lovers. "It's the old bumping into the new," says Mike Scott, a technical media manager for network gear maker D-Link Corp., who fields many questions about chicken wire. "How were people 70 years ago supposed to know that we were going to have all of these wireless gadgets?" Many factors can disrupt wireless networks, including steel girders, air-conditioning vents and water-filled objects -- including humans and pets. But even with its many holes, chicken wire creates a particularly powerful metal shield. Physicists call it a "Faraday cage" -- a metal structure that impedes electricity and waves -- because the fencing is the perfect size to catch waves generated by 2.4-gigahertz Wi-Fi networks. "It turns out that chicken wire is almost perfectly the right wavelength of a Wi-Fi signal," says Karl Garcia, who sets up Google Inc.'s free Wi-Fi efforts. "It acts just like a solid piece of metal."

December 28, 2009

Want to kill a man from a mile away? There's an app for that

The Escapist : News : Snipers in Afghanistan Use iPhone to Kill Taliban
Think smartphones are just a fad? You might want to consult with military snipers in Afghanistan who use a $19 iPhone app to help their bullets hit home. When you think about it, sniping is actually a hell of a lot more complicated than it is in, say, Team Fortress 2, where it's essentially "point crosshairs and shoot." In real life, there are tons of factors that can affect where exactly your bullet ends up once it leaves the barrel of the gun: ballistics, wind velocity - even something like the rotation of the Earth itself. That's part of the reason that military sharpshooters get special training, of course... but to make it even easier on snipers currently at work battling terrorists in Afghanistan, there's an iPhone app for that sort of thing. BulletFlight, a program for the iPod Touch and iPhone, helps work out the ballistics of any given shot, taking into account the wind and rotation of the Earth - and even predicting the wounds that the target will suffer if the bullet finds its mark. Though given the power of most modern sniper rifles, I'd be very surprised if the program didn't just default to "acute case of death." The program was reportedly developed from videogame software and repurposed for practical use, which is a departure from the "traditional" idea of technological advancement: The military invents something, and it finds its way down to public use. "But, increasingly, modern consumer gadgets are so powerful and so highly competitive that they're often ahead of the game - and much cheaper to buy in and adapt," said Stuart McDougall of BAE, who is working on "3D graphics technology from the PS2" to help advance upcoming military engineering. (They do know that we're now on the PS Triple, right?)

December 16, 2009

The Copenhagen wheel will generate electricity, communicate with your iPhone

MIT's Copenhagen Wheel turns your bike into a hybrid, personal trainer -- Engadget
Debuting at the biggest climate change conference since Kyoto, its Copenhagen Wheel is a mixture of established technologies with the ambition to make us all a little bit greener and a little bit more smartphone-dependent. On the one hand, it turns your bike into a hybrid -- with energy being collected from regenerative braking and distributed when you need a boost -- but on the other, it also allows you to track usage data with your iPhone, turning the trusty old bike into a nagging personal trainer. The Bluetooth connection can also be used for conveying real time traffic and air quality information, if you care about such things, and Copenhagen's mayor has expressed her interest in promoting these as an alternative commuting method. Production is set to begin next year, but all that gear won't come cheap, as prices for the single wheel are expected to match those of full-sized electric bikes.