Don't Trust Your Caller ID

I'll admit, I love caller ID. The ability to screen incoming calls is just one reason. Security is another. Our household has experienced several waves of harassing calls over the years. Caller ID reduces the worry of answering the phone. Now, Caller ID falsification service is available to residential customers. Sigh.


Olympic Timekeeping: How small a difference really matters?

The 2004 Summer Olympics is a technological tour-de-force. Events are timed to the thousandth of a second. As broached in this article, how fine a time grid is fine enough? Does a thousandth of a second difference between two runners, say, really reflect a difference in performance? Does a hundredth of a second difference reflect a real performance difference? Just because we can measure smaller time slivers of differential in human performance, does it mean that we should?


Creative Solution to an Age Old Problem

Here's a creative soluton to an age-old problem:

Cold shower for Dutch men urinating in public
Dutch bar flies who can not wait until they are home to relieve themselves are in for a surprise in the southern town of Tilburg where a restaurant owner has put up a cold shower to discourage urinating in public, a newspaper reported on Friday.

Tired of drunks urinating in the ally next to his eatery, located close to a busy bar district, restaurant owner Willy van den Boomgaard installed a cold shower outside to surprise peeing punters.

The shower head is equipped with sensors and will spring into action when anyone nears the alcove where it is located between 1:00am and 7:00am.

"It cost me over 900 euros to install but if it means my restaurant gets rid of the urine stench it will be worth it," the owner told the Algemeen Dagblad.


What Were they Thinking?

Here's a leading contender for the "What Were They Thinking?" Olympic Gold:
MIAMI - Small toys showing an airplane flying into the World Trade Center were packed inside more than 14,000 bags of candy and sent to small groceries around the country before being recalled.

Get the full scoop here.

eBooks: Will the Promise Ever be Realized?

The potential of eBooks has excited me for many years. The potential for creating high value multi-media textbooks, that cost students less seems a win-win proposition ... unless you are a publisher. Publishers seem more concerned about profit retention than delivering customer value. Hence, eBooks stagger. Tablet PCs seemed a promising classroom platform for eBook distribution. That promise evaporated the obscene tablet pricing pricing was announced. I predict that when tablet-like pcs fall into the $250-$500 (ideally under $100), eBooks might stand a chance. Alas, until the publishers don their customer value goggles, and suitable reader hardware is available, eBooks will continue to flounder. CNet offers this rose-colored glasses prognosis.

Rodent Power: Hamster-Powered Night Light

Put those household rodents to work. Build a Hamster-Powered Night Light.


Low Tech: Air Guitar World Championships

OK, get riffing. The Air Guitar World Championships are winding up. More details (including streaming media) available here

In case you are wondering, championship rules include:

* The instrument must be invisible - ie, air
* An air guitarist may play an electric guitar or an acoustic one - or both
* Personal air roadies are allowed, but backing groups (real or air) are not
* The winner must carry the joyful tidings of the air guitar forward - thus promoting world peace.

Rock on!


RFID Tags: OK or Orwellian?

CNet has a piece playing with the pros/cons of RFID tags. As with most issues, the most reason is probably located in the middle ground.


Price Coordination

Hmm ... why is a lawyer worried about low prices? Go figure. Anyway, Douglas Lichtman: "argues that intellectual property law can and should facilitate price coordination in emerging technology settings." Apple's failure to capture the PC market is cited as an example.

Banner Ad Gallery

In case you don't get enough ads served, check out this banner ad gallery.

More progress on the consumer tracking front.

Nielsen NetRatings to fine-tune research: "Research firm Nielsen%2FNetRatings will launch a service tracking how consumers use financial Web sites--the first of a series of efforts to focus on specialized industries. "

On Pirates: Info and Otherwise

Info Piracy (e.g., file sharing, etc.) receives considerable press. Here's an interesting piece comparing old style pirates with high-tech info piracy.


Now it's just the internet

Wired reports "Effective with this sentence, Wired News will no longer capitalize the "I" in internet. At the same time, Web becomes web and Net becomes net." To which I reply: It's about time!!! The internet is just another medium like newspaper, radio, tv, magazine, etc.

Athletes Not Journalists

Olympians Throttled: Wired News You're Athletes Not Journalists

It's the Act not the Tool

In a refreshing judgement, Movie Studios Lose In Case Against File-Sharing Apps. Yep, it is the act of sharing, not the tools that risk liability.


RFID Chip uses cont'd: Find stray balls

Here's another RFID chip application: Using RFID to find stray balls: "Radar Golf helps players find balls embedded with radio frequency identification chips." I never thought golf was too exciting, but imagine the fun one could have with RFID enabled balls, especially if they could be tracked w/a GPS. Hmm...

RFID Tags Track Cars

It looks like RFID tags may be useful for more than physical inventory tracking. iPico Holdings has developed a system that uses RFID Passive Tags to Track Cars. This system could be used to collect tolls on toll roads. Might it even be used to collect fees at a drive-in theatre?

$1 Profit Margin on DVD Players

Umar has an interesting post on how the profit margin on DVD players has largely evaporated. Just as the medium isn't a path to content profitability, hardware isn't either. Isn't that the key lesson of commodization? Value is in the intersection of content and delivery. When will content publishers (i.e., the music and movie industries) get it?

Market Response: The pirate DVD player

Having trouble playing that priate DVD? The market has responded. You can no get a DVD player designed to play noisy pirate DVDs. Further evidence that the distribution medium is not the path to profit or value creation.


Hong Kong children top mobile phone ownership in Asia: survey

Mobile phone penetration continues to spread down the age ladder. Hong Kong children top mobile phone ownership in Asia: survey: "29 percent of Hong Kong children aged 6 to 15 have a mobile phone, followed by 25 percent in Australia and Japan. "

Texts alert parents to school closures

Ah, here's a sign of life in education: A school is usingSMS alerts parents to school closures. How wonderfully simple and effective. Parents can self-register via a web site. This system makes instantaneous communication with parents simple and reaches them where they are. Much better than the still much relied upon telephone tree (manual or automated).

Unlimited or Capped Volume Pricing: SMS

Pricing data services offers many alternatives. Some options include per unit pricing, unlimited pricing, and capped pricing. Here's Telecom New Zealand's experience with pricing SMS.


Courthouse employees hunt ghost

High-tech security system serves up spooky images. Who ya' gonna' call?

Beheading Video Is a Hoax: Or the importance of checking authenticity

"On the Internet, noone knows you are a dog," goes the old joke. This joke exposes our assumption that we are interacting online with other humans. A correlary is that, "Content on the Internet is assumed to be true. This recent Video Beheading Hoax should be a wake-up call to question content.