Archive for the ‘Technology’

Did I just walk into another RFID bubble?10.13.09

They are close to everywhere, but we can’t see them. The radiosignals of modern technology. Some are fairly strong and used to transmit your cellular voice calls and some for the mobile broadband. The older ones are there carrying TV and radio for our pleasure and broadcasting experiences. And some are there for the in-house (office & home) WiFi networks.

But what most users hardly ever think about as radiosignals right there all around us are all the tiny RFIDs encapsulated in numerous products. We all rely on them and their existence and abundance. We need them for our mobile phones, our shopping experiences etc. And some dream of making the RFID a part of any physical product. For identification and tracking purposes. Some even dream of RFIDs in the packaging of all food products. Also for easy identification and tracking services. And in our clothes, in our shoes, in our garden tracking movements. On our pets so that we can build access control products even for cats and dogs and bunnies and what have you. RFIDs have even been used for protecting babies against abduction. Some tried using RFIDs for tracking students, and some tested them for tracking Alzheimer patients.

The ethics of RFID usage is a highly neglected topic. From time to time it seems researchers can test their ideas without ever having to discuss the ethics of their projects. And as long as we, the users, and our politicians neglect the potential power and the potentials for misuse of technology the number of applications for RFID will be growing for times to come.

The radiosignals are all invisible. And mostly harmless. But it could be rather fun watching the signals. So how do we visualize radio signals? In a new film by Timo Arnall for Touch and Jack Schulze for BERG such a visualization is attempted. A further step towards Transhumanism or not?

Posted in Information, Technologywith No Comments →

The sad story on digital libraries in Norway – part 110.12.09

This part is based on too many futile attempts at getting at information at University libraries in Norway through the web.

A starting place for visiting Norwegian University libraries could be the library at University of Oslo. The first impression of the site is “hey, this has been built some years ago”. But there is a simple search form and there are some promising links. But wandering through the page one may conclude with:

  • A number of links which “promises” search directs the user to a closed service. Services for employees and students only should not have been marketed that prominently on the front page. That is a stupid trick.
  • Selecting departments at the library does not narrow down the search! If you select e.g. the math & natural sciences dept. your book searches will still be within the library as a whole (or at least what we are left to believe is what they have).
  • Design and navigation differ from page to page and “service” to “service” in non-logical manners. This seems only to be due to different persons and projects involved in the different pages. Another stupidity.

Oh, there are many more interesting questions which could be raised. But, let’s look at a few other examples in Norway. Let’s travel to Bergen. They welcome you, the reader, with a page and a movie bragging about themselves. A search field given in the upper-right corner may seem to be the doorway to the hidden databases? Or, wait, what happens if you click on one of those menu-items? Nasty thing. The guys and dolls that built the site really did like to show that they can reveal/hide sub-menues. And that promising search field? Searching the library databases? Nope. Just searching the site excluding the databases. Searching the databases is hidden under services. But what a miserable interface:

  • What’s the difference in the searches given?
  • Why does the language in the interface keep changing? I started out with Norwegian, found myself in a English result-page and had to look through the whole page to find the language selector hidden in the upper-right corner.
  • Where is power-search or advanced search mechanisms hidden, i.e. how can we easily narrow down the seraches? Nowhere.
  • Why does the strings “searchin” and “retrieving” appear in different spaces on the page? Why not a fixed position for the search-status?

Again, it feels like the list could have been made into a book.

Travelling to Trondheim must be a winner. This is the city which like to think of themselves a the “core of technology”. And actually, they do have a more coherent site! The search field on the frontpage does cover databases as well as the site itself. And the result page lists result categories and lists potential ways of narrowing your search. Neat. Navigation, design and services for search specification could be improved. But so far, Trondheim is in the front seat.

Travelling further up north, I had high hopes for my old campus (both as a student and employee). But the site for the library at University of Tromsoe is the saddest of them all. When you enter the pages (and are given that insanely long URL) please note that the menu signals you are on a page “for employees”. The search field in the upper-right corner is not only for the library but for the University as a whole. So don’t go there! The three different searches listed in the middle of the page gives you i) Bibsys (the same as the library at University of Oslo), ii) Ofelas (the same as the library at University of Bergen); and iii) a meager collection of less than 2.000 documents locally at the University.

I know we (through our taxmoney) have been paying for digital libraries for years. Where are they? Seems like a lot of money just down the drain.

Posted in Information, Internet, Readings, Technologywith No Comments →

Another Microflop10.09.09

Sad days for all the Windows-loyal out there. Strong evidence of another Microflop (or more correctly Macroflop) from Microsoft is emerging.

Microsoft and Ballmer have been laughing at iPhone. And stating that they have a strategy which is going to make sure they stay ahead also when it comes to cellular phones and smartphones.

That was then. Where has this strategy brought Microsoft? Years after Ballmer laughed pictures of their fantastic Pink phones started circulating. I am not a product designer (thank heaven) but I know what I like and what I don’t like. Just looking at it. And the design of the “Pinks” did not appeal to me at all. Anyway, I may not be in their target customer group.

The design in itself is sad enough. But now we get rumours stating the the project is in danger of caving in due to sloppy project management. So they did not understand the techie bits of building phones and didn’t see the significance of choosing this or that technology? Does not surprise me. Maybe they should start out reading the book The Chip by T.R. Reid. It’s a fantastic book on the history of the chip. And by reading that book the Pink project might have understood the implications of protocols? That different communcation technologies could imply different chip sets.

But what seems worst of all, and a lesson to be learned by anyone trying to break a new product into being “the next hit”: try to avoid making your partners in the process pissed.

Even so, I have to admit that I do not care too much about Microsoft getting a dent in their bodywork. Best of all: they only have themselves to blame.

Posted in Technologywith No Comments →

Amazing photo manipulation10.07.09

There you go, searching on the internet for a photo fitting your needs. And you search and search, and nothing is quite what you are looking for. And you hope and pray for that some day, some bright day someone will have built a better search engine for photos. And, suddenly, there is something far better: a service which combines photos into the scene you just sketched! Amazing.

PhotoSketch: Internet Image Montage from tao chen on Vimeo.

Posted in Flip (videos), Internet, Technologywith No Comments →

Microsoft just made my day08.26.09

Engadget has just made me smiling. Well, actually grinning. And I guess I will be grinning for a while.

They have uncovered a sad photo manipulation. And the guys behind it? Microsoft.

So they have this photo used in an ad and they try to push that ad everywhere else in the world. But the photo contains a coloured man. So horror of horrors at Microsoft and they find out they would not like to use that coloured man for instance in Poland. So they manipulate the photo. And they replace the head of the man with a white guy.

To further prove their amateurism they do the following:

  • They replace only the head, not his hand which still shows he is coloured “somewhere”
  • They forget to fix the lighting so that the head of this new guy has light coming from a different angle than the rest of the photo shows. The shading on his jacket is now all wrong (inconsistent)
  • The text-area does not have room for the button, making the design a bit stranger than it was

Caught with their pants down they have since removed the ad on the Polish site. As politically uncorrect as it may be, they show us their true colours. No wonder their products suck.

Posted in Observations, Technologywith No Comments →

Viral marketing model08.24.09

I have been waiting for someone to come out with the really smart, new model for viral marketing using the new social media channels. I kind of new it would have to be the travel business which would have to be the ones with the best ideas. But I was happily surprised to see that it was my beloved Tuscany which should be the “product” to be marketed. The people behind Work for Tuscany are offering dream positions for the creative, smart and nerdy people. Their goal is setting up the most creative and most inclusive dedicated team in Florence, Italy, communicating and promoting the best of Tuscany through social media.

Posted in Internet, Italy, Technologywith No Comments →

Maybe I should use Facebook after all03.22.09

I do have a Facebook account. At least I did have it years back when I created it. But I never used it. Kept being pestered by someone asking me to add them to my account. But I have never bothered to check whether the account still is there. Do you think I should use it? I just saw this video so maybe I should…..

Posted in Flip (videos), Internet, Technologywith No Comments →

Nettleser-statistikk07.10.08

Ifølge Hitslink har Microsoft Explorer en tilbakegang på omkring 6% siste år (juni 2007 – juni 2008). Mesteparten av dette tapet i markedsandel går til Firefox. Men noe går også til Safari.

Det skal også bli interessant å se hvordan markedsandelen for iPhone utvikler seg når 3G-telefonen lanseres om noen timer.

Posted in Internet, Technologywith No Comments →

Black hat07.09.08

For ordens skyld: «black hat» er betegnelse på en ondsinnet hacker og «white hat» er betegnelse på en vennligsinnet hacker. For de som skjønner forskjellen. Når sikkerhetsansvarlige ønsker å følge med på hva sort-hattene holder på med så kan f.eks. konferansen «black hat» være en nyttig kilde.

Posted in Hack, Internet, Technologywith No Comments →

Mens vi venter07.03.08

Bare dager igjen til iPhone 3G er tilgjengelig. Men da kan det jo være på sin plass å mimre litt om da den første modellen ble lansert og hvilke magiske triks den kunne brukes til :-)

Posted in Observations, Technologywith No Comments →

  • the tuscan cat
    I for one believe that Leonardo (da Vinci) was really smart. And I also believe cats are smart creatures. So when I spotted a nice cat sleeping on a scooter carrying "the signature" Leonardo somewhere in beautiful Italy I just had to "shoot".

    For all you non-norwegian readers: older entries are in Norwegian only. Sorry.