Wednesday, September 28, 2005

WikiHome - mmsn - JotSpot

I'm organizing a tiger team to explore what I think is a very timely, interesting, and important idea. Right now, the biggest challenge seems to relate to issues of authentication. Your insights would be most welcome.

"MobileMesh SafetyNet:
An emergency mesh network for today's mobile phones"

The problem: the existing telephone infrastructure can go down when it is needed most.

The opportunity: cell phones are a huge resource. A user-friendly
widely-distributed pre-installed radio-enabled supercomputer is a
terrible thing to waste.

The proposed solution: The cellMesher would be a robust
self-configuring battery operated 'cell tower in a barrel' that coud
be dropped or floated into a disaster zone to replace the central
mobile phone infrastructure, allowing today's off-the-shelf mobile
phones to communicate with each other.

Basically, cellMeshers would spoof cell phones, convincing them that
they were normal cell towers. cellMeshers would exchange messages
with each other (or with satellites) to allow people to communicate
beyond their own local cellMesher, foregoing billing, authentication,
and other non-essential services in the service of emergency relief.

There is probably more aggregated computational and broadcast power in personal cellphones than in all the rest of the cell phone infrastructure.

A latent, distributed radio-enabled supercomputer is a terrible thing to waste.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

from being the main source of society’s ever-shortening attention span to becoming a reliable guarantor of long-term perpective

How can we invest in a future we know is structurally incapable of keeping faith with its past? The digital industries must shift from being the main source of society’s ever-shortening attention span to becoming a reliable guarantor of long-term perspective. We’ll know that shift has happened when programmers begin to anticipate the Year 10,000 Problem, and assign five digits instead of four to year dates. “01998” they’ll write, at first frivolously, then seriously.

--Stewart Brand

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Usable Security

Many people believe that you cannot have both security and ease of use. This simply is not true. The goal of the Whisper Project, organized by members of the Security Research Group in PARC's Computer Science Laboratory, is to build new technologies that allow users to easily manage their own security. These technologies are based on the following key concepts:
  • Infer security requirements from user actions.
  • Provide useful and convenient interaction primitives for users to control their security environment.

Xerox Parc: Usable Security

Friday, September 16, 2005

There is almost one mobile phone for every person in much of the developed world

There is almost one mobile phone for every person in much of the developed world, according to new figures from the OECD. In Luxembourg, phones outnumber people, since many people who live in neighbouring countries have a second handset for use within its borders. Despite their enthusiasm for PCs and broadband links, Canada and the United States have been slower to adopt mobile phones than other rich countries.

RFID in Japan

The future is here. It's just not widely distributed yet. --William Gibson

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Mesh networking cellphones in New Orleans.

Mesh networking cellphones in New Orleans.

Why aren't there ad-hoc battery-powered "cell towers in a barrel" that could be "bombed" or floated into disaster zones to turn the thousands of useless cell phones in people's pockets into a crisis mesh network.

(Answer this question, and we can deal with the problem of recharging the cellphones next. But look: today's cellphones are powerful receivers and transmitters and computers. In crisis they should be re-purporseable, whether the telcos like it or not.)

This is not a rhetorical question. Phone Phreaks, this is your moment to shine.


I've posted something like this at
and at

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Wired News: Linux Distribution Tames Chaos

Chaos, a Linux distribution developed by Australian Ian Latter, harnesses the unused processing power of networked PCs, creating a distributed supercomputer that can crack passwords at lightning speed.

The program remotely boots Linux on a PC without touching the hard drive, leaving the "slave" PC's operating system and data secure and untouched. Thirty PCs connected as a cluster create enough processing power to complete complex mathematical equations or high-level security tasks like password cracking that no individual PC could handle alone.

Friday, September 09, 2005

New Backpack Generates Its Own Electricity

The suspended-load backpack generates electricity from the motion of
the person carrying it. The pack creates enough energy to run seven
portable electronic devices, such as cell phones, at once.

Image copyright Science

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

information aesthetics - photonic textiles

Steve Jobs (found art)

QuickTime, network congestion, and I collaborate on an accidental portrait of Steve Jobs, soul of Apple, during today's "Special Event" webcast.

Boxes and Arrows: Expanding the Approaches to User Experience

Boxes and Arrows: Expanding the Approaches to User Experience

Jesse James Garrett’s “The Elements of User Experience
diagram (17kb PDF) has become rightly famous as a clear and simple
model for the sorts of things that user experience professionals do.
But as a model of user experience it presents an incomplete picture
with some serious omissions—omissions I’ll try address with a more
holistic model.

Boxes and Arrows: The Sociobiology of Information Architecture

Boxes and Arrows: The Sociobiology of Information Architecture

What evolution teaches us is this: in order to understand the deeper roots of our need to generate and manage information, we need to look beyond the individual organism, towards the social groups that drive the mechanisms of evolution and adaptation for all species.

The definitive collection of idea generation methods

The definitive collection of idea generation methods

6-3-5 Method:

This method is suited to groups of around six people.

Each group member receives three cards and writes one idea on each.

The three cards are then passed to the neighbouring group member, who writes a further idea on each card, triggered by the idea already provided.

The process is repeated until each of the 18 cards has six ideas on it, giving a total of 108 ideas.

Operation Everything

Operations Research Emerges

In World War II, scientists from a wide range of fields attacked military problems with a potent combination of empiricism and mathematical models. When airplanes came back riddled with holes from enemy attacks, for instance, the intuitive response was to reinforce the armor where the holes were. But, noted the scientists, those were the planes that made it back. They didn't need more armor where they were hit. The real challenge was to figure out the places that had been hit in the planes that went down.

"It was a lively, informal, paradoxical exchange of ideas between amateur and professional war makers and it produced some brilliant successes," wrote James R. Newman in "The World of Mathematics," published in 1956, which cited O.R.'s role in simplifying supply lines, providing a quantitative basis for weapons evaluation, and so on.


In the 1990s, the data became available. Now corporate information technology systems collect unprecedented amounts of data -- on costs, sales, and inventories, in itemized detail and real time. Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble, for instance, know exactly how many 200-ounce bottles of liquid Tide Free have sold in which stores today. That information in turn determines how many new bottles are shipped from which warehouse tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Tall grasses set to power Europe

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Tall grasses set to power Europe: "Burning biomass is broadly neutral in terms of its emissions of carbon dioxide, the major gas thought responsible for warming the planet.

'As the plant grows it is drawing carbon dioxide out of the air,' explained Professor Steve Long, from the University of Illinois. 'When you burn it, you put that carbon dioxide back, so the net effect on atmospheric CO2 is zero.

'Whereas, if you take coal out of the ground and burn it, you are adding a net gain of carbon to the atmosphere.'"

"t could actually make a major contribution and it doesn't require big technological breakthroughs to do that."

DNA Printing

I read two books this summer that have sensitized me (further) to bio-it convergences.
Radical Evolution by Jarreau
Fab by Gershenfeld.

Here's one such convergence, from NASAtechbriefs.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have
developed a nanoscale printing technique that could make DNA analysis
as common as a blood test.

The technique - called supramolecular nano-stamping -- prints DNA from
one substrate, such as glass, gold, or silicon, onto another. Using a
print template, mirror-image copies can be produced in a few steps,
offering the rapid transfer of a large amount of information.

The technique could be used to produce other types of nanodevices
including organic and inorganic materials. DNA could be used as a
starting material to produce a transistor or a semiconductor,
according to MIT materials scientist Francesco Stellacci.

Find out more at:

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Monday, September 05, 2005

Blogger Help : What is BlogThis! ?

Blogger Help : What is BlogThis! ?: "BlogThis! is an easy way to make a blog post without visiting Once you add the BlogThis! link to your browser's toolbar, blogging will be a snap. "

Head-Tracking Pointer?

What is the Head-Tracking Pointer?

The Head-Tracking Pointer provides an inexpensive and easily-used mouse replacement for those unable to use traditional pointing devices. Using only software and any Web-cam, this application allows users to point and click with character-level accuracy by simply aiming their face. [windows]

Singularity will be here by September 28....

The 9th Annual Gilder/Forbes Telecosm Conference
: The Singularity Is Here
September 26 - September 28, 2005
The Resort at Squaw Creek, Lake Tahoe

All attendees will receive FREE COPIES of:
- Ray Kurzweil's transcendent new book, The Singularity is Near
Rich Karlgaard's horizon-widening work, Life 2.0
Andy Kessler's must-read , How We Got Here

Back in the saddle again

Classes started on labor day (why?)!

Here we go again... Its been a very productive summer. I'll be updating my blog...