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May 18, 2009

Register: Don't slag Wolfram|Alpha for not living up to claims it did not make

Taking a first bite out of Wolfram|Alpha • The Register
Is it the newest rival to Google, likely to knock Google off the top spot? No it isn’t. Does it provides a single answer to complex questions – unlike traditional search engines? Nope. Could it possibly be "a natural search engine"? Not quite. The newest game in town, if Twitter is anything to go by, is the Wolfram|Alpha computational knowledge engine. There is a good chance that in the long term it will revolutionise how we interact with the internet. But not yet. Right now, it is a very good start, and belongs firmly in the area loosely described as semantic web development.... In a seriously original debunking of the product, the Guardian complains that "Wolfram Alpha has trouble answering that enduring philosophical question: 'Why am I here?'", responding merely "Wolfram Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input." It does not know the airspeed velocity of an swallow – laden or otherwise. However, Wolfram Research have bowed to the inevitable by allowing their engine to answer questions about the meaning of life (the universe and everything) with the answer, "42".

May 17, 2009

Baby monitors are killing wi-fi

PC Pro: News: Baby monitors killing urban Wi-Fi

Baby monitors and wireless TV transmitters are responsible for slowing down Wi-Fi connections in built-up areas, according to an Ofcom-commissioned report.

The regulator commissioned the report to evaluate the effectiveness of the unlicensed 2.4GHz band that Wi-Fi operates over.

The report smashes the myth that huge congestion on overlapping Wi-Fi networks is responsible for the poor performance of Wi-Fi in urban areas. Instead, it points the finger of blame at the raft of unlicensed equipment operating on the 2.4GHz band.

May 15, 2009

Writing ZORK will now be almost as easy as writing a regular novella

Inform 7 Gallery Did you play Zork when you were...

Continue reading "Writing ZORK will now be almost as easy as writing a regular novella" »

Is free online data storage a bad idea?

Will Your Data Disappear When Your Online Storage Site Shuts Down? - eCoustics.com

Short answer: back everything up.

Online storage sites, the toast of the Internet circa 2006, are shutting down in droves, putting the data and images of their users in jeopardy.

Online storage services that have announced closings in the past ten months include big names in tech: AOL (Xdrive and AOL Pictures), Hewlett-Packard (Upline), Sony (Image Station), and Yahoo (Briefcase). Plenty of lesser-known online storage firms also have kicked the bucket, including Digital Railroad and Streamload MediaMax, which turned into The Linkup.

Using these sites used to be a no-brainer--you just uploaded your summer-vacation pictures or your business files and then shared or used them anytime you wished. Now you have to wonder: Will my information still be around tomorrow?

May 14, 2009

Charlie Stross looks at the state of gaming in the year 2030

Charlie's Diary: LOGIN 2009 keynote: gaming in the world of 2030

This is a pretty great read.

For the past few years I've been trying to write science fiction about the near future, and in particular about the future of information technology. I've got a degree in computer science from 1990, which makes me a bit like an aerospace engineer from the class of '37, but I'm not going to let that stop me.

The near future is a particularly dangerous time to write about, if you're an SF writer: if you get it wrong, people will mock you mercilessly when you get there. Prophecy is a lot easier when you're dealing with spans of time long enough that you'll be comfortably dead before people start saying "hey, wait a minute ..."

So: what do we know about the next thirty years?

Quite a lot, as it turns out — at least, in terms of the future of gaming. Matters like the outcome of next year's superbowl, or the upcoming election in Germany, are opaque: they're highly sensitive to a slew of inputs that we can't easily quantify. But gaming is highly dependent on three things: technological progress, social change, and you.

Let's look at the near-future of the building blocks of computing hardware first.. . .