Archive for the ‘High Tech’ category

Random Thoughts…

June 3, 2009

There’s a lot of stuff rattling around in my brain—random thoughts about this and that…

So, as the late comedian George Carlin used to say—here’s a few of my brain droppings.


The disappearance of Air France flight #447 over the Atlantic has unleashed a huge amount of speculation from the media— more than usual perhaps because the plane was lost over a desolate section of Ocean with no aural communication from the crew.

One of the early—and oft reported pieces of speculation was that “lightning brought down” the huge jet.

Trouble with that “theory’’  is that it can be disproved with the click or two of a computer key, and the blabbering no-nothings of the media did not a seconds research before spewing out useless garbage.

All the speculating newsies had to do was a quick Google search for “aircraft & lightning” they would have found a tons of information about how planes are designed to withstand lightning strikes…

They’d find stats showing dozens of aircraft are struck every month by lightning world-wide.

Do the genius brains in newsrooms need more proof?

A few more keystrokes  would have revealed this video of Qantas Jet struck while in mid air:

OR this video of a jumbo jet getting struck just after takeoff…

There are several other videos on line, including a small, private plane getting zapped by lightning and shots from inside the cabin of an aircraft of a lightning strike.

It’s not necessary to post ‘em all—you get the point.


Back in April, Actress Demi Moore got all kinds of headline coverage when a San Jose, California woman sent her an on-line suicide threat via Twitter.

Her followers saw the threat and called the local police who interrupted the woman’s suicide attempt.

Although Moore didn’t save the life, she got the credit…

Now— a city councilor in Atlanta, Georgia has used the Twitter to save someone right in front of him.

As you can read here, Councilman Kwanza Hall spotted a woman having a seizure on a street corner.

He decided to Tweet for help because his cell phone battery was low, and he feared he wouldn’t have enough juice to stay on the line with the local 9-1-1 center.

His text: “Need a paramedic on corner of John Wesley Dobbs and Jackson st. Woman on the ground unconscious. Pls ReTweet

That message was picked up by his followers—and with-in seconds—an ambulance was dispatched, arriving in time to save the woman’s life.

EYE betcha she’s “singing” the praises of Twitter today.


My Zimbio

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Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends Version5.0

May 13, 2009

There’s always something happening that frosts my cupcakes—and when EYE get enough cupcakes sitting on my mental counter-top it’s time to serve them to you in :


After several weeks of Swine Flu coverage—we may be on the verge of learning the real truth about the way this strange genetic makeup of the H1N1 virus came about.

As you might recall scientists said it contained a here-to-for unseen combination Swine, Bird and Human flu…

A couple of weeks back, we speculated in this post the virus might have been artificially created.

Now as you can read here the researcher who helped create the anti-viral medicine TAMIFLU believes the H1N1 virus was a HUMAN creation that accidentally escaped a research lab.

Adrian Gibbs bases his conclusion on H1N1’s genetic blueprint, and says so in a report.

The World health Organization is investigating his claims while some are trying to pooh-pooh Gibb’s allegation.

But with four decades of studying the evolution of germs, my money’s on Gibbs.


First they told us we were running out of oil—but not to worry because we had plenty of coal that we could use to generate power..

Now, these two studies by researchers at the California Institute of Technology and the University of Washington claim we’ve overestimated the amount of coal we have available—and that we’ll hit peak production of it by 2025..

So, that pretty much gives us about 15 years to come up with workable, available alternative energy sources.

Can we beat the clock—or will we wait till 2024 before we do something?


The latest piece of Big Brother technology comes in the form of mathematical algorithms that check out surveillance video to figure out if you’re a shoplifter.

The BIG Y supermarket chain in Massachusetts has installed a system in its 57 stores that takes video camera feeds and runs them through a mathematical formula

As you can read here, the algorithms then decide if the store’s cashiers are engaging in an activity known as “sweethearting” where-by cashiers don’t ring up items as they work the check-out line.

If the system detects a problem, it alerts store security and then shows them the suspected video clip.

Stoplift, the company that invented the system claims on its website that it’s an accurate detector of employee theft.

But, knowing that math errors do occur in computer code, EYE would be a little worried about getting accused by a line of code that might corrupted.


My Zimbio

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The Road Less Traveled…

May 7, 2009

While the American  automotive industry begs for bailout cash and threatens us with dark tales of bankruptcy and economic turmoil—-

—-there are folks out there who are trying to innovate and improve the automotive industry…

Check ’em out….


A California based company has come up with a concept that’ll make any car cool—while getting rid of the standard door.

Jatech uses what it calls a rotary drop door to allow easier access into and out of any automobile.

It turns your ride into an elegant coach.

As you can see in this video— the door just disappears under the car—sliding away in a matter of seconds.

As the company’s website shows, the disappearing door can be outfitted any ANY kind of vehicle—and has the approval of major automakers.


How’d you like to have a car that’s not only Biodegradable—but runs on Chocolate?

Well, a team of British researchers from the University of Warwick have developed just such a vehicle.

World First Racing’s Formula 3 race car runs on Bio-diesel that’s made from vegetable oils and waste from chocolate  factories.

Not only that—but the major components  of this little beauty are made from various organic substances.

  • * The steering wheel  is constructed from carrot fibers
  • * The foam in the seats is from soybeans
  • * The rear view mirrors and body panels are made from potato starch
  • * The brake pads are made from cashew shells.

95% of the vehicle is Biodegradable, as you can read on World First Racing’s website here.

Researchers think that’s the way to go with ALL cars in the future.

Of course, with all those parts made from food, EYE suppose you could always serve your old car for dinner instead of trading it in for a new model.


With the government moving closer and closer to taking over the U.S. auto industry, we really ought o give this some thought.

The following video gives us a taste of what could happen if the folks who brought you FEMA decide they’ll start selling us cars too.


My Zimbio

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Peeking Behind Closed Doors….

April 24, 2009

Years ago, Charlie Rich had a hit song titled Behind Closed Doors whose refrain was: “Oh, no-one knows what goes on behind closed doors…”

But, that may no longer be the case.

Just ask the government.

One of the men currently running for Governor of New Jersey apparently approved using  the GPS chip inside of  cell phones to track U.S. Citizens WITHOUT any warrants.

The story linked here claims when Christopher Christie was U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, he used that warrantless tracking in close to 100 instances.

Christie claims it’s all legal—but tracking without a warrant disregards an internal U.S. Justice Department recommendation that “prosecutors obtain probable cause warrants before gathering location data from cell phones.”

Taken alone, Christie’s action may sound unique in terms of government intrusion.

But consider this gem from the man who is Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence—uttered a couple of years back.

Dr. Donald Kerr says Americans have to change their definition of privacy—because it should no longer mean anonymity.

Back in 2007, in testimony quoted here before Congress, Dr. Kerr said the only privacy you’ll have is what  ”government and business provide for people’s private communication and financial information”…

Sounds OK right?

Well.. Maybe not.

You see that same story details a claim by a retired AT&T technician who says he installed a device in 2003 that ”diverted and copied every call, email and Internet site” accessed via AT&T’s San Fransisco switching office.

And where did this copied information supposedly go?

You shouldn’t need more than one guess.

Yep… A U.S. government computer.

The story claims there’s close to 2 dozen similar sites all over the country doing the same thing!

It appears our friends in Washington are indiscriminately collecting each and every piece of information about us without worrying about those annoying ol’ search warrants…

No wonder they’re telling us we need to change our definition of privacy.

They’ve already done it…

So—what do we do?

If we live with the technology—we live with the potential for its abuse.

In the meantime, EYE fully expect this post is going to end up in some file somewhere—marked with a notation to keep tabs on the guy who wrote it—because he’s dangerous.


My Zimbio

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Kill The Message—Not The Messenger…

February 20, 2009

Could you get by for one week without turning to the Internet for something?

Chances are you can’t.

But, old line newspaper folks are tossing about the idea that they should pull the plug on Internet news reporting for a week— just to show us how important newspapers are…

That’s an interesting thought—but do newspapers REALLY think they can turn back the on-line revolution?

As you can read here, the papers are upset that the Internet has been “poaching” their news for years—and they believe it is helping to hasten their decline.

That may be partly true—but the fact remains—newspapers have buried their heads in their ink barrels for years—and for the most part—failed to take full advantage of the electronic world the net offers.

Over 20 years ago— those who provided us with the daily printed word began to flirt with the the concept of putting content on line—and in the intervening decades pretty much haven’t moved beyond the philosophy that the on-line edition “won’t be much competition to the street edition” of the paper which is articulated at the end of the video below.

This is not an anti-newspaper screed. EYE am old enough to have started my career writing for papers.

But, as times changed, so did EYE, moving from radio to TV—and now into the ‘net.

There was a time when TV threatened to put radio and the movies out of business.

But both those mediums re-invented themselves and became more viable today than they were when they had no competition.

Now— newspapers need to learn the same lesson.

Adapt or die.

And right now the newspaper business is dying.

They have a choice—but their time to decide is running out.


My Zimbio

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Eye Spy….

January 28, 2009

As we become more and more reliant on our mobile devices to keep us in contact with the world—we are opening ourselves up to more and more observation by everyone from the government to retailers.

One of the emerging issues of the 21st century is sure to be locational privacy.

Here’s just a few examples of how it’s been breached.


When cell phones first hit the scene—the only “roaming” you had to worry about was the “roaming” charge incurred when you left the area served by your cell phone carrier.

Recently, researchers from Boston’s Northeastern University used cell phone data location transmission codes to track the movements of 100,000 folks to see how far away they roamed from their homes.

They conducted the study in Europe—because it’s illegal to intercept those signals in the U.S.

Various government officials in the United States have said how that kind of spying is illegal—and we shouldn’t worry.

But how are we to know that SOME government agency somewhere isn’t already spying on us like that—or prepared to track us in the name of “national security?”


It was 3 years ago, when word first broke the FBI was using cell phones to intercept conversations of Mafia members—thus giving the agency a “roving bug.”

Despite the fact the criminals turned off their cell phones, the FBI was able to remotely turn them on—activating the microphone on the phone.

That allowed the feds to record whatever was said near the phone.

When the FBI was finished—it turned the phones back off…

An archival version of that story detailing how the FBI went about it can be found here.

That bugging revelation prompted the creation of this video aimed at helping folks figure out if their cell phone is being bugged…


It’s bad enough that retailers like supermarkets are using the “customer savings cards” to track our purchases— but now they want to track our movements with in the stores to find out why you’re NOT buying certain items.

The Prism system is going to be used by not only retailers like Wal-Mart—but by the Disney theme parks.

You can read more about it here.

And although the folks who are tracking us no doubt think this will be a great boon to retailing—the potential for mis-use of the technology is HUGE.

Not only are they rolling back prices—they’re rolling back our freedoms.


My Zimbio

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Plugging Into Electric Avenue….

January 20, 2009

As drivers rush down the highway of ever increasing gas prices—more and more of us are looking at the possibility of driving a hybrid vehicle..

There are sound reasons for buying them which included reduced fuel and maintenance bills..

But there are also a few caveats:


Emergency responders are getting worried about the increasing numbers of hybrids on the road..

They’re worried about accidents…

One of the most common ways of extricating people from wrecks is to use an hydraulic cutting device known as the Hurst Tool, or Jaws Of Life.

As you can see here—their cutting power is dramatic. Vodpod videos no longer available.

Although hybrid cars are designed to have their electrical systems shut down in the case of emergencies—first responders are concerned that safety mechanisms might fail and they’ll cut through a “hot” cable, or other energized portion of the car that could hurt or kill them.

As you can read here rescuers have a variety of concerns with hybrids because the automakers can’t assure them the safety systems are fail-safe…

And with each company designing their cars a bit differently— there are multiple “shock zones” that have to be avoided during a “cut and peel” rescue operation.


Because hybrids generally operate on battery power at slower speeds—they tend to be in that mode more when they’re in congested urban areas..

And urban areas are where you are more likely to find pedestrians.

But for blind pedestrians, the silent hybrids are literally an accident waiting to happen, as you can read here.

As a result, the U.S.  government is considering requiring hybrids to make some kind of noise to warn blind pedestrians..

However—the solution for automakers isn’t so simple— because the hybrid’s noise will have to distinguish itself from the other “outside noises” already on the street.


One of the big problems with hybrids right now is small amount of miles they get on a charge.

Toyota is trying to extend that by putting solar panels on its higher end Prius models starting in 2009.

The solar panels will be used to run things like the air conditioner and other energy sapping devices in the car.


The problem of low mileage in an electric car has been solved by a small, California based car company.

Tesla Motors has come up with a car that’ll run about 220 miles on a SINGLE charge…

That’s the equivalent of getting 135 miles to the gallon!

Because it’s ALL electric, the Tesla Roadster also doesn’t need oil, filters, coolants, clutches, spark plugs a PCV valve, oxygen sensors, a timing belt, a fan belt, a water pump and hoses, a catalytic converter, or a muffler.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

You can check it out here on the company’s website….

The drawback: the Tesla Roadster sells for about $109,000.

The company is working on a model that’ll sell for about $60,000 that should be ready by about 2010..

And beyond that, they’d like to have $30,000 vehicle ready soon thereafter….


My Zimbio

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