Thursday, December 24, 2009

Festive Wishes

I wish to send warm festive greetings and say HAPPY CHRISTMAS to all readers of this blog. And to all and every person too - so please pass on this message.

MAY 2010 BRING HAPPINESS AND SUCCESS TO EACH ONE

Each person matters - so a BIG THANK YOU for everyone who has visited this blog.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Night vision for cars

New technology for those late-night drives... it seems that Bosch has now released an enhanced version of its night vision system, first featured in this year's new Mercedes E-class:

The new system can identify pedestrians and alert the driver to their presence.Like its predecessor the system, dubbed "Night Vision plus" by the German electronics giant, provides a high-contrast image of the area immediately ahead of the vehicle. The difference is that the image is also analysed in the latest version. As pedestrians are identified and highlighted on the screen, the driver has much more time to take action than they would if relying on the beams of headlamps alone.

The technology, known within Mercedes-Benz as "Night View Assist Plus" is also available on the latest S-Class.The Bosch active night vision system uses four main components to provide an accurate reproduction of the area immediately ahead of the vehicle. Infrared headlights with a range of 150 metres – three times further than conventional dipped headlights – "illuminate" the road, and what they pick up is recorded by a camera behind the windscreen. The images are then processed by a control unit and shown on a high-resolution display in the cockpit.


Read more - and see the video - at: 'Night vision for cars'

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

HAL's bells: IBM makes 'thinking computer' breakthrough

Not there yet...but the tech-boffins are scurrying to get closer to the Tech-Holy-Grail... here's the latest over at IBM:

Scientists say they've made a breakthrough in their pursuit of computers that "think" like a living thing's brain - an effort that tests the limits of technology.Even the world's most powerful supercomputers can't replicate basic aspects of the human mind. The machines can't imagine a wall painted a different colour, for instance, or picture a person's face and connect that to an emotion.

If researchers can make computers operate more like a brain thinks - by reasoning and dealing with abstractions, among other things - they could unleash tremendous insights in such diverse fields as medicine and economics.A computer with the power of a human brain is not yet near.But this week researchers from IBM are reporting that they've simulated a cat's cerebral cortex, the thinking part of the brain, using a massive supercomputer.The computer has 147,456 processors (most modern PCs have just one or two processors) and 144 terabytes of main memory - 100,000 times as much as your computer has.

The scientists had previously simulated 40 per cent of a mouse's brain in 2006, a rat's full brain in 2007, and 1 per cent of a human's cerebral cortex this year, using progressively bigger supercomputers.The latest feat, being presented at a supercomputing conference in Portland, Oregon, doesn't mean the computer thinks like a cat, or that it is the progenitor of a race of robo-cats.The simulation, which runs 100 times slower than an actual cat's brain, is more about watching how thoughts are formed in the brain and how the roughly one billion neurons and 10 trillion synapses in a cat's brain work together.




Read more at - 'HAL's bells: IBM makes 'thinking computer' breakthrough'

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

US to take greater control of the Internet

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has an article on the proposition to increase US government control over the Internet - in the name of increasing competition and expanding service!

Federal regulators are considering whether the government should take greater control of the Internet and ask consumers to pay higher phone charges in order to provide all Americans with cheaper access to broadband Internet service.The Federal Communications Commission Wednesday will lay out the case for expanding broadband Internet service, outlining current obstacles to making it widely available. The agency is considering whether to force Internet providers to share their networks with rivals and raise fees charged on consumer phone bills to pay for the broader access.

The proposals, which have sparked criticism from telecommunications and cable companies, represent a reversal from the Bush Administration, when regulators cut back on government control of Internet and telephone service.

The new commission, controlled by Democrats, is considering whether more government control is needed to ensure competition and more affordable Internet service.




Read original article - 'US to take greater control of the Internet'

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Secret CCTV cameras fitted INSIDE people's homes to spy on neighbours outside

Another step on the road to a complete surveillance state... as civil surveillance takes its test:

Town halls are installing cameras inside suburban homes to spy on the neighbourhood.The Big Brother tactic - which is allowed under the anti-terrorist Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act - is being used by Croydon council in South London to catch those suspected of 'anti-social behaviour'.The CCTV cameras are placed inside the house of a willing resident, but trained on the street.If deemed successful, the £1,000 cameras could be installed across the country to catch low-level offenders...

...Charles Farrier, of the campaign group No-CCTV, said: 'There is no evidence they act as a deterrent and we should be concentrating on the root problem anyway and working to gel our communities.'
Simon Davies, of Privacy International, said: 'Unless the public are aware of where these cameras are, I believe this council should be taken to court for a breach of human rights.'
cctv
The cameras are used to look for anti-social behaviour (file picture)


Critics say the scheme has echoes of the East German Stasi secret police, which recruited members of the public as spies.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1228876/Secret-CCTV-cameras-fitted-INSIDE-peoples-homes-spy-neighbours.html#ixzz0XIIUOJKe

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Read article - 'Secret CCTV cameras fitted INSIDE people's homes to spy on neighbours outside'

Thursday, November 26, 2009

India to have 'billion plus' mobile users by 2015

First it was all about China and its rise of mobile & Internet users.... now India is back on the map:


India could have more than one billion mobile phone users by 2015, with the bulk of that growth in rural areas, one of the country's top telecom executives said Wednesday. Manoj Kohli, chief executive of India's biggest mobile phone group Bharti Airtel, told an industry conference in Hong Kong that his firm is aiming to almost double its customer base to 200 million people in the next few years. "Achieving a billion plus (Indian mobile users) by 2015 is possible," he told the Mobile Asia Congress, the region's largest telecom industry gathering.

"The largest growth will happen in the rural market," he said, adding that pricing wars between providers were knocking down rates in the Indian market and making phones affordable to more people. Competition in India has become even more aggressive as new players unleash deeper price cuts with innovative per-second billing plans that have pushed call costs down to less than a cent a minute.

"There is hyper-competition like no other place in the world," he said.

India is the world's second-biggest cellular market with more than 400 million users, lagging behind only China, which has over 600 million users.



Read more at - 'India to have 'billion plus' mobile users by 2015: executive'

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Age of cyber warfare is 'dawning'

 Although not 'new', at least it is now being officially stated that the world's nations are prepared for future cyber wars:

Cyber war has moved from fiction to fact, says a report.
Compiled by security firm McAfee, it bases its conclusion on analysis of recent net-based attacks.
Analysis of the motives of the actors behind many attacks carried out via the internet showed that many were mounted with a explicitly political aim.It said that many nations were now arming to defend themselves in a cyber war and readying forces to conduct their own attacks.

While definitions of what constitutes cyber war are not shared, it was clear that many nations were preparing for a future in which conflict was partly conducted via the net."There are at least five countries known to be arming themselves for this kind of conflict," said Greg Day, primary analyst for security at McAfee Europe.
The UK, Germany, France, China and North Korea are known to be developing their own capabilities.



Read more at 'Age of cyber warfare is 'dawning''

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dutch drivers to pay tax on road time, not on car

This new scheme to track drivers and cost them for their travel rather than paying standard car tax was always on the cards... now its on paper:

The Dutch government plans to bring the polluter-pays principle into the home garage.

Rather than an annual road tax for their cars, drivers will soon pay a few cents for every kilometer (mile) on the road, in a plan aimed at breaking chronic traffic jams and cutting carbon emissions, the Cabinet decided Friday.

The GPS monitoring system could be a test case for other countries weighing options for easing crowded roads. Some cities like London have created congestion charges to control traffic in downtown areas, but only Singapore has a similar scheme for charging according to the amount of travel.

When the plan takes effect in 2012, new car prices will drop as much as 25 percent with the abolition of a purchase tax and the road tax, which now totals more than euro600 ($900) per year for a mid-sized car.

Instead, an average passenger car will pay euro0.03 per 1 kilometer ($0.07 per mile), with higher charges levied during rush hour and for traveling on congested roads. Trucks, commercial vehicles and bigger cars emitting more carbon dioxide will be assessed at a higher rate, the Transport Ministry said.

The GPS devices installed in cars will track the time, hour and place each car moves and send the data to a billing agency.


Of course, they will need to install GPS devices in every car in order to track and bill you... but I'm sure it was coincidental...



Read more at 'Dutch drivers to pay tax on road time, not on car'

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

INTERPOL issues its first ever passports

Well, it looks like the 'kinetic elite' just became a little more 'kinetic'.... and this time in the area of crime-busting.... INTERPOL has just declared that it is issuing 'its first ever passports which will enable Heads of National Central Bureaus (NCBs) and staff to travel internationally without requiring a visa when assisting in transnational investigations or urgent deployments to incidents':

Two countries, Pakistan and Ukraine, have already agreed to waive visa entry requirements for INTERPOL passport bearers, recognizing that those individuals will be travelling on behalf of the organization in the furtherance of international police co-operation.

Without the delay of visa processing procedures, any INTERPOL team can be immediately deployed to scenes of terrorist events, major crimes or natural disasters and officials from NCBs can easily cross borders to assist in fugitive extraditions.

The first member of the Executive Committee to receive the new passport, INTERPOL President Khoo Boon Hui, said that the document would significantly support the organization’s work.

“As the world’s largest police organization, INTERPOL needs to remain at the forefront of all activity which enhances member country security and safety,” said President Khoo.


While the rest of us have to wait in line....


Read official site - 'INTERPOL issues its first ever passports'

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

World-first Sustainable Racing Car Runs On Chocolate

Here's one for the choca-holic racing fans - a esearch team at the University of Warwick, have designed and built the worldfirst fully sustainable Formula 3 racing car:

The car is made from woven flax, recycled carbon fibre, recycled resin and carrot pulp for the steering wheel. It runs on biofuel made from chocolate and animal fats and is lubricated with plant oils. But it's not just an environmentally friendly car, it is also fast. The car has a top speed of 135 mph, can achieve 0-60 in 2.5 seconds and is turbo charged to give it more torque.

Having got the seal of approval from drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Adam Carroll as well as F1 team boss Ross Brawn, the car will make its first competitive debut in the Formula 3 Championship final at Brands Hatch on 17th October. The team hope to prove that high performance, competitive cars can be built from sustainable materials.

According to Dr Kirwan the idea behind the project is to show that: "being sustainable and green can be incredibly sexy, fun and fast." He goes on to say that even though people's perception of motorsport is that it's wasteful, this project is "aiming to show ways for the future, for people to race and be green."



Read original article - 'World-first Sustainable Racing Car Runs On Chocolate'

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

The pocket spy: Will your smartphone rat you out?

NewScientist Tech has an article on how firms are able to extract personal information from mobile phones... sometimes at the behest of jealous partners.... a new trend! The post states that:

THERE are certain things you do not want to share with strangers. In my case it was a stream of highly personal text messages from my husband, sent during the early days of our relationship. Etched on my phone's SIM card - but invisible on my current handset and thus forgotten - here they now are, displayed in all their brazen glory on a stranger's computer screen.

I've just walked into a windowless room on an industrial estate in Tamworth, UK, where three cellphone analysts in blue shirts sit at their terminals, scrutinising the contents of my phone and smirking. "If it's any consolation, we would have found them even if you had deleted them," says one.

Worse, it seems embarrassing text messages aren't the only thing I have to worry about: "Is this a photo of your office?" another asks (the answer is yes). "And did you enjoy your pizza on Monday night? And why did you divert from your normal route to work to visit this address in Camberwell, London, on Saturday?"

I'm at DiskLabs, a company that handles cellphone forensic analysis for UK police forces, but also for private companies and individuals snooping on suspect employees or wayward spouses. Armed with four cellphones, which I have begged, borrowed and bought off friends and strangers, I'm curious to know just how much personal information can be gleaned from our used handsets and SIM cards.




Read article at - 'The pocket spy: Will your smartphone rat you out?'

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wi-Fi Making a Leap Forward

Apparently a new Wi-Fi 'certification' is nearing completion ...'to allow direct connections between Wi-Fi devices without joining a traditional Wi-Fi network. Known as Wi-Fi Connect, Alliance plans to begin certifying devices by mid-2010.' Read more:

The Wi-Fi Alliance is nearing completion of a new specification to allow Wi-Fi devices to connect to one another without joining a traditional home, office or hotspot network. The Wi-Fi Alliance expects to begin certification for the new specification in mid-2010 and is currently called Wi-Fi Direct. In its early stages of development it was known as Wi-Fi Peer-to-Peer.

The new specification can be implemented in any Wi-Fi device, including mobile phones, cameras, printers, notebook computers, keyboards and headphones. Certified devices will also be able to create connections with Wi-Fi certified legacy devices already in use. Devices will be able to make a one-to-one connection or a group of several devices can connect simultaneously.

The new specification targets both consumer electronics and enterprise applications, providing management features for enterprise environments and includes WPA2 security. Wi-Fi Direct devices will support typical Wi-Fi ranges and the same data rates as can be achieved with an infrastructure connection, so devices can connect from across a home or office and conduct bandwidth-hungry tasks.



Read original article - 'Wi-Fi Making a Leap Forward'

Monday, November 02, 2009

U.S. Spies Buy Stake in Firm That Monitors Blogs, Tweets

Wired's Danger Room has a post on how America’s spy agencies want to read your blog posts, keep track of your Twitter updates — even check out your book reviews on Amazon!

Read on... but you may be tracked...

In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA and the wider intelligence community, is putting cash into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media. It’s part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using ”open source intelligence” — information that’s publicly available, but often hidden in the flood of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports generated every day.

Visible crawls over half a million web 2.0 sites a day, scraping more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, online forums, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon. (It doesn’t touch closed social networks, like Facebook, at the moment.) Customers get customized, real-time feeds of what’s being said on these sites, based on a series of keywords.



Read more at - 'U.S. Spies Buy Stake in Firm That Monitors Blogs, Tweets'

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Health study links mobile phone use to four kinds of cancer

Wow..... that was a strange time-warp I just stepped through.... 1 day turned into 4 months...!

Anyway, here's the latest from a 10 year research investigation done by the Interphone project, funded by the World Health Organisation and mobile phone companies:

A major international health study has shown that excessive mobile phone use can be linked to four different kinds of cancer. The research, which has taken 10 years and cost £20million, found that heavy mobile users suffered up to 50 per cent more tumours.

Scientists now say there is a "significantly increased risk" of people developing three different kinds of brain tumour and one of the salivary gland. News of the findings, which are to be published within the next eight weeks, has led to calls for mobiles to carry health warnings...

Previous studies have been inconclusive, but Interphone draws together the most recent research from 13 countries and involved interviewing 12,800 people. Dr Elisabeth Cardis, head of the study, said: "I am globally in agreement with the idea of restricting the use by children, though I would not go as far as banning mobiles."

The Department of Health has not updated its guidance in four years, saying only children should be "discouraged" from too many calls.



Read original article - 'Health study links mobile phone use to four kinds of cancer'

As in all things - moderation is the key....

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Friday, June 26, 2009

England supermarket is powered by shoppers’ kinetic energy

Now here's a novel way of 'stealing' peoples' power..... by harvesting the kinetic energy of shoppers! A recent article reports that

An English supermarket is deploying a green energy system that allows it to harvest energy from the natural movement of its shoppers.

Sainsbury, England’s third largest supermarket chain, has decided to deploy a road plate technology developed by AEST from California that generates electricity whenever pressure is applied on it, for example, a car running over it.

AEST says that a system of 20 plates can generate about 10,000 to 12,000 kWh of energy per day, and cost $2.5 million. The system generates energy which allows saving of approximately $300,000 a year.

The Sainsbury system will generate 30kW per hour, which is enough to power the store’s lighting and computers.



Read more at 'England supermarket is powered by shoppers’ kinetic energy'

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Monday, June 22, 2009

World's megacities ripe for 'megadisaster'

According to the UN's humanitarian chief in a recent speech, some of the world's biggest cities are at growing risk of "megadisasters". He also warned that climate change was behind a rising number of natural catastrophes:

"We are going to see more disasters and more intense disasters as a result of climate change," said UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes.

"The trends in disasters particularly from climate change are of enormous concern. We can only expect that this trend is going to continue," he told journalists on the sidelines of a conference on reducing disaster risks.

Some 90 per cent of disasters are of climatic origin, caused by storms, floods, drought or other extreme weather conditions, according to the UN's weather agency.

Holmes said some of the world's biggest cities housing millions of people were highly exposed to disasters, being located in coastal areas that would be threatened by rising sea levels, or in earthquake zones.



Read more at 'World's megacities ripe for 'megadisaster''

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

GPS phones could spy on swine flu sufferers

Now here is a worrying development.... as health authorities in Japan think they might have the answer to tracking and blocking the spread of swine flu - keep an eye on the population through mobile phones!

The idea is to track every individual on their phone's global positioning system (GPS).

Then people can be warned if they have crossed paths with anyone diagnosed with a highly contagious illness.

Radio Australia's Connect Asia program reports the scheme is part of an initiative to promote new uses of internet and mobile technology.

It is funded by the Government and will be carried out by Softbank, a big internet and mobile phone provider.

Trials are due to start in a Japanese school in the next few months, but some people are concerned the technology will not be able to keep up with the mass of data to be collected.


Read original article - 'GPS phones could spy on swine flu sufferers'

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Virtual Smart Home Controlled By Your Thoughts

ScienceDaily has a post on how 'light switches, TV remote controls and even house keys could become a thing of the past thanks to brain-computer interface (BCI) technology being developed in Europe that lets users perform everyday tasks with thoughts alone'. The post continues by saying:

The technology, which was demonstrated at CeBIT in Hannover in March, provides an innovative way of controlling the interconnected electronic devices that will populate the smart homes of the future, granting increased autonomy to people with physical disabilities as well as pleasing TV channel-surfing couch potatoes.

“The BCI lets people turn on lights, change channels on the TV or open doors just by thinking about it,” explains Christoph Guger, the CEO of Austrian medical engineering company g.tec that developed the application.




R
ead more at - 'Virtual Smart Home Controlled By Your Thoughts'

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Monday, June 01, 2009

PACHUBE

Usman Haque has launched a terrific project called Pachube. It's a service for sharing and monitoring real time sensor data between remote buildings, devices, and environments, both physical and virtual. The idea is to facilitate remote interaction, open source home automation, sensor logging, environmental data visualisation etc.

See more at - http://www.pachube.com/

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Camera grid to log number plates

A national network of cameras and computers automatically logging car number plates will be in place within months, according to this BBC post:

Thousands of Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras are already operating on Britain's roads.Police forces across England, Wales and Scotland will soon be able to share the information on one central computer.

Officers say it is a useful tool in fighting crime, but critics say the network is secretive and unregulated.Kent's Chief Constable, Michael Fuller, commented: "We've seen an increase of some 40% of arrests since we've been using this technology.

"I'm very confident that we're using it properly and responsibly, and that innocent people have nothing to fear from the way we use it."



A number of local councils are signing up their Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) systems to the ANPR network. As long as the cameras are technically good enough, they can be adapted to take the software.


Well, not a complete surprise... just another rung on the ladder towards Total Awareness (similar to the US program); yet using the issue of personal mobility as the 'vehicle'.


Read more at - 'Camera grid to log number plates'

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

AFTER THE CAR - Now published!


KINGSLEY DENNIS & JOHN URRY - After The Car

Finally the book has hit the streets... and currently sits in various off-line and on-line stores:


• A provocative exploration of a possible future without the car, from two leading sociologists.
• Examines the impact of global warming, global population increases and the peaking of oil supplies, among other things, on the future of how we travel.
• Argues that there will come a time in the future where, by necessity, the present car system will be‘re-designed’ and‘re-engineered’.
• After The Car will interest sociologists, policy makers, industry, as well as the general reader. It will be of interest to every ‘car user’.

Let us hope the book gains some mobility through human energy!

And any reviews would be welcome...

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Amsterdam Schiphol airport has taken delivery of an electric car

Some good news in that an airport is trying to compensate for its energy pollution by introducing electric cars. Here's the news:

Amsterdam Schiphol airport has taken delivery of an electric car. The Th!nk City vehicle will be test-driven by employees of the airport for the next twelve months. If the electric car proves successful, the airport plans to buy more. An electric re-charging point has been installed outside the head office of the Schiphol Group.

The electric carAccording to an official statement "Amsterdam Schiphol Airport places great value on the introduction of sustainable transport as a contribution towards the improvement of air quality". The electric car isn't the first environmentally-friendly vehicle at the airport. Since May 2008, electric scooters have been used on the airfield, and ten percent of the wagons at Schiphol use biodiesel.

The Th!nk City is an urban car with an electric motor of about 40 hp which runs on sodium or lithium batteries. It has a top speed of around 100 km per hour and can travel up to 180 km on a single charge.

Schiphol wants its own activities to be climate neutral by 2012. By 2020 the airport hopes to provide at least 20 percent of its energy needs though the generation of sustainable energy.



Read original article here - 'Amsterdam Schiphol airport has taken delivery of an electric car' - (thanks to RA!)

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Doctors of Tomorrow

Now it seems that family doctoring is going Facebook style into online networking. A new neighbourhood doctor outfit called Hello Health says on their website:

"Once upon a time, going to your doctor was simple. You knew his first name, or perhaps just called him 'Doc'. He lived just down the street and made house calls. And if you were sick, you would see him that day, because, well, you were sick. Then things started to change. Although medicine has made some amazing advances in keeping us healthy, we now have to contend with dietitians, insurance premiums, running shoes, deductibles, HMOs,OTC drugs, specialists, fat-free salad dressing, and therapists. Daunting, isn't it? But don't worry, we've made going to the doctor easy again". Hello Health combines the virtues of the old-fashioned neighbourhood doctor, with new tech platforms. "We love technology, the Internet, and especially our iPhones", say Hello Health; "You can talk to us like you're talking to a friend: through
emails, texts, phone calls, instant messages, or face-to-face conversations. Also, everything's online, from making appointments to accessing your records. It also helps we're close by, living and working in your neighborhood". Anyway, the whole thing is quite brilliant - and to cap it all, Hello Health's principal communication platform is a video on YouTube:



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Friday, May 15, 2009

Social Innovation Camp

The organisers of Social Innovation Camp claim that it is 'an experiment in creating social innovations for the digital age', and they are currently looking for the best ideas for web-based tools that can change stuff that matters. A camping weekend in Glasgow brings together some of the best of the UK's software developers and designers with those at the sharp end of social problems. Their mission is to turn six back-of-the-envelope ideas that could change the world into social start-ups - complete with working software. And all in under 48 hours - and there's only one week to go!!:

You’ve got until Friday 22nd May 2009 to send us your idea that uses the web to create social change and you could be joining 100 other participants to try and make it a reality.

And this week, we’re really pleased to be able to announce some of our prizes for the weekend.

At the end of each Social Innovation Camp, we run a Show and Tell where everyone pitches what they’ve built in the weekend.

We’ll be awarding some prizes to the ideas we think have shown most promise. And this time around, we’re lucky enough to be supported by our partners Firstport, IfLooksCouldKill and O Street.


Go to their website

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The future does not have a driver

It seems that driverless public transport is the new hype in the Netherlands, and Rotterdam has the scoop for so far!

A driverless suttle bus in Rotterdam follows a magnetic strip embedded in a concrete roadway.    Photo Dirk-Jan Visser A driverless suttle bus in Rotterdam follows a magnetic strip embedded in a concrete roadway. Photo Dirk-Jan Visser

The main disadvantage of public transport is that it requires drivers, and the driver is not only the most expensive but also the most dangerous part of the equation. "Computers are cheaper, they never get tired and they are much better drivers," says Jan van Dijke of the Dutch research institute TNO Automotive. "Nine out of ten traffic incidents are the result of human error."

Van Dijke is in charge of the European Citymobil project, which studies the advantages of driverless public transport, among other things. One current experiment is in Rotterdam, where for the past few weeks a driverless bus has been shuttling passengers from the Kralingse Zoom metro station to the Rivium industrial zone. The shuttle is a miracle of efficiency and punctuality. It follows a magnetic strip embedded in a concrete roadway. The shuttle started running four years ago but the project was halted after a frontal crash, which the technicians assure was due to human error.

Driverless public transport is on the rise in many other places. Amsterdam plans to do away with metro operators from 2014.


Read more from original article here (thanks to RA)

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Monday, May 11, 2009

The city and the crowd

Here's an interesting video-post from over at Space & Culture that looks at early city film montage from 1928:



The city montage from King Vidor’s 1928 silent film, The Crowd

The montage of the busy city streets, enormous crowds, and speeding trains that is Johnny’s introduction to New York City is frantic and a bit awe-inspiring, especially the great shot that climbs the side of the building where Johnny works. Many of the crowd shots were done with a hidden camera, and in one scene, when a traffic cop seems to tell us to move along, he was actually instructing Vidor and his crew to move.”

From 'The city and the crowd'

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Virgin Galactic’s Test Flight

Looks like Wired's 'Autopia' managed to get its hands onto Virgin Galactic's latest - so the trip's still on! (if you can afford it, of course)

vms_eve_01_sized

Space junkies and wannabe astronauts rejoice - we’ve got exclusive video of Virgin Galactic’s recent test flight in the Mojave.

Wired.com got its mitts on the first official cockpit video and other footage from the recent test of Virgin Mothership Eve at the Scaled Composites skunkworks operation in sunny SoCal. Scaled Composites and Virgin tend to keep the test results hush-hush but say “several recent published articles have been sufficiently inaccurate and negative” to make them “set the record straight.”

They could be referring to reports by FlightGlobal that VMS Eve, the prototype of the White Knight 2 that took to the air, suffered a tail strike during an April 20 flight and experienced rudder problems. Scaled Composites, in a statement (.pdf), called the test “very successful” and said, “we only needed to adjust the rudder forces.”


Read more here - Virgin Galactic’s Test Flight

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Another EV supercar

It seems that the Silicon Valley trend for expensive EV supercars continues...


autopia-wave-i

Another day, another start-up promising an electric car with awesome range.

This time it’s EV Innovations, the same guys behind the Inzio electric supercar we told you about a few weeks back. The Inzio is billed as a Tesla-beater and has a $139,000 price to match. That’s a lot of scratch, which is why the company says it’s working on an electric commuter car that’ll carry a $34,000 sticker price when it goes into limited production in a year.

It’s called the Wave, and EV Innovations says it will have a range of up to 170 miles and a top speed of 80 mph. That’s a bit shy of the top speed claimed by the Aptera 2e. But Ron Cerven, director of product development at EV Innovations, says anything the Wave gives up to the Aptera in terms of speed it makes up for in size.



Read here for more -Riding the EV Wave

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Energy and equity: a beginner's guide to designing a zero carbon transport system

An inaugural lecture to be given at York University byProfessor John Whitelegg on 18th May 2009. Anyone can attend and it will also be streamed on the Internet. Those people familiar with Whitelegg's work will know he has been involved for many years in campaigning for better designed transport systems in terms of urban renewal and energy.

Title: Energy and equity: a beginner's guide to designing a zero carbon transport system

Abstract: Currently there are about 750 million vehicles on the planet. A prominent German forecasting organisation has predicted this will rise to 2.3 billion by 2030. Ivan Illich wrote "Energy and Equity" in 1974 and demonstrated the absurdity of our dependence on oil for routine daily trips and the illogicality of human behaviour devoting 1600 hours each year to service the demands of the car in order to travel 7500 miles at an average speed of 5mph. 25 years later the absurdities noted by Illich are now global and intensifying with very large year on year increases in car ownership and use in India and China. Each day our global mobility requires 5.8 million tonnes of oil and kills 3000 mainly poor and non-motorised citizens. This is expensive and requires very large public subsidy and is intimately linked with poor health outcomes ranging from obesity to hospital admissions as a result of poor air quality. This inaugural lecture explores the intimate geography of oil dependent transport, its global trends, its links with climate change and peak oil and explains its grip on society and decision makers and charts a new transport revolution that at a low cost will deliver socially just accessibility to our destinations at a zero carbon cost.

Venue - University of York, P/L001 Physics 1730 on 18th May 2009

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Fatwa Issued Answering Cell Phone during Aayat

Textually.org has some revealing information on how mobile phones - ringtones, sms - are intervening with Muslim traditions:

140235601_0f3d151803_o.jpg

A Muslim organization has issued a fatwa over using verses from the Koran as ringtones, saying that answering the call while the aayat (verses from the Koran) is going on is a sin. It argues that people answer calls midway through the aayat, leave the verse incomplete. TechTree reports via Channel 4.

quotemarksright.jpgThe panel of clerics in Kanpur India, also said that taking a cellphone to the toilet as it rings is a sin because aayat cannot be heard in a toilet. They also condemned the habit that people have of keeping cell phones on vibration mode while attending prayer services.

A fatwa in the Islamic faith is a religious opinion on Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Other cell phone related Fatwas:

-- A Fatwa Against Ringtones - An imam at a Mosque in Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa against mobile phones after one rang during prayers on Saturday, playing Arabic pop music.

-- Fatwa: No pictures of the bride by SMS - Cheikh Abd Al-Muhsin Al-’Obikan, a member of Saudi Arabia's Shura Council and advisor to the Ministry of Justice, has issued a fatwa forbidding a fiancĂ© to look at pictures of his fiancĂ©e uploaded online by SMS, for fear that others could see her before their marriage.




Read original post - 'Fatwa Issued Answering Cell Phone during Aayat'

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Ringing in the Vote: Mobile Phones in the 2009 Indian Elections

With the Indian elections underway, there is bound to be some 'mobile' news on the events. Here's one such interesting post:

The world's largest democracy, India, is holding its general election this year. The month-long elections to the 15th Lok Sabha, the Indian Parliament, will be held in five phases between April 16th and May 16th when the final results will be announced.

As India's 714 million voters prepare to elect their 543 representatives, they are witnessing a range of digital initiatives from political parties, civil society organizations, media houses and even corporations. In fact, some observers are calling this India's first digital elections.

Leading the packed ballot is 82-year-old Lal Krishna Advani, the prime ministerial candidate of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, who has embarked on an Obama-style new media campaign. Part of the campaign are a blog, a blogger outreach program, one of the most aggressive online ad campaigns ever seen in India, and an ambitious SMS campaign that will reach 250 million of India's 400 million mobile subscribers.

Rajesh Jain's Netcore Solutions, which is running the SMS campaign for BJP, has bought an inventory of 1 billion SMSes for the campaign. Rajesh is also a part of the Friends of BJP group, which is running a social network and an opt-in MyToday-based SMS channel to support BJP's campaign (Indian Express).




Read more on this at 'Ringing in the Vote: Mobile Phones in the 2009 Indian Elections'

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Electric Peapod now available!

Today - April 22nd - is Earth Day...and so the Peapod makes its appearance... tempted?


Peapod_01

The long-awaited, often-advertised Peapod will be available for order on Earth Day, April 22. Coincidentally, the 22nd also is Administrative Assistant's Day. We expect to see a lot of greenies and maybe some secretaries tooling around in their $12,500 Peapods at no more than 25 miles an hour.

While the Peapod prototype had clear driver and passenger doors that looked like a Dyson vacuum cleaner, the production version (shown above) of the neighborhood electric vehicle resembles George Jetson's Deux Chevaux. Company director and brand guru Peter E. Arnell, whose initials inspired the company's name, told Treehugger.com the car's appearance was inspired by "Japanese bullet trains, storm troopers from the film Star Wars, space helmets and turtles." There's also a very prominent "smile" to the car's grill, but what else would you expect from a man whose firm devised Pepsi's new logo with the Cheshire grin and laughably pretentious backstory?

The feel-good vibe continues with a glance at the in-dash iPod (sold seperately). Edmunds says every trip concludes with a carbon-footprint analysis, while another app tells you exactly how much money you've saved by leaving the family truckster at home.


Read more at 'Smiling EV Debuts on Earth Day'

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Monday, April 20, 2009

P.U.M.A. - the Future of Urban Transportation?

Wow - here's the new Segway mobility vehicle...it's their PUMA - “Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility”- and you have to admit, it does look nifty



Is this the car of the future? For more photos, check out this photo gallery by Autoblog. (Image via Gather.com)

Last week, General Motors and Segway unveiled the much-hyped Project P.U.M.A, which stands for “Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility,” an electric two-wheeler prototype vehicle that is supposed to transform the way city-dwellers move around. The 300-pound, lithium-battery-powered, pod-shaped vehicle can go up to 35 miles per hour in a 35-mile range with a 35 cent charge.

The New York Post says it is “a vision of how to combat difficult future urban planning and development as urbanization increases and green technologies becomes more important.” (See a video of PUMA in action, riding around New York City, here.)


Read more over at 'GM, Segway Unveil P.U.M.A. as Future of Urban Transportation'

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

New Pew survey on Internet use in US 2008 election

Smartmobs has a post on The new Pew survey which shows that, for the first time, the Internet is the primary source of political news for a majority of Americans during a national election:

It’s not just about getting news — citizens actively debted, blogged, organized online. That’s not news insofar as so many of us suspected this — but the empirical evidence always trumps punditry, whether it is online or not:

Some 74% of internet users–representing 55% of the entire adult population–went online in 2008 to get involved in the political process or to get news and information about the election. This marks the first time that a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey has found that more than half of the voting-age population used the internet to get involved in the political process during an election year.

Several online activities rose to prominence in 2008. In particular, Americans were eager to share their views on the race with others and to take part in the online debate on social media sites such as blogs and social networking sites.




Read more at - 'New Pew survey on Internet use in US 2008 election'

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

A coming electric car revolution?

It appears that the UK government is 'trying' to make some moves towards promoting electric cars - what took them so long? They announced today that consumers are to be offered incentives of up to £5,000 to purchase an electric car, and that electric cars will be placed in cities across the UK as part of the launch:

The proposals are part of a £250m strategy, seen by the Guardian, spelling out a revolution in Britain's road transport network based on ultra-low carbon vehicles. It will be launched today by Geoff Hoon, the transport secretary, and Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, with the aim of kickstarting the market for cleaner road vehicles and slashing the UK's CO2 emisisons.

Hoon said yesterday that decarbonising road transport had a big role in helping the UK meet its targets of reducing CO2 emissions by 26% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. "Something like 35% of all our carbon emissions are caused by domestic transport," he said. "Of that, 58% of the emissions are caused by motor cars."

The focus of the strategy, in the first instance, would be on urban transport. "Given that 60% of journeys by car are under 25 miles, there's no reason why someone using a car for commuting on a regular basis will not be able to charge up their car at home, take it to work and come home again well within the distance an electric vehicle should be able to travel," Hoon said.

It's a start..yet more needs to be done than just 'tweeking' the fuel...this still does not solve the problem of urban traffic or individualised movement.


Read more at - 'Labour's £5,000 sweetener to launch electric car revolution'

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Police using Google Street View-style cars to spy on motorists

Well, the controversy just keeps growing: the issue of mobile surveillance. Now 'google-style' cars are being trialled for spying on motorists bad habits:

Google Street View car: Police using Google Street View-style cars to spy on motorists
A Google Street View car

Officers are trialling new cars with cameras fitted to telescopic poles on their roofs to film drivers using mobile phones, eating or applying make-up while behind the wheel.

The Smart cars, which bear similarity to those used by Google to map the country's streets, are intended to cut the number of fatalities on Britain's roads, police say.

However, the pilot scheme has come under fire from motoring groups who claim that the tactics are an "infringement" of drivers' liberty.

Nigel Humphries, from the Association of British Drivers, said: "They might as well put something in cars to test what drivers are thinking.

"Apart from that it's going to be counterproductive. While the camera is looking into cars, other motorists could be driving erratically and causing a danger on the roads."

The scheme is being pioneered with two of the vehicles in Manchester, where distracted motorists have reportedly been involved in 406 accidents in the past two years.



Read original post - 'Police using Google Street View-style cars to spy on motorists'

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Energy...without hot air

A useful new book titled 'Sustainable energy - without the hot air' by David McKay, Professor of
Natural Philosophy at Cambridge University, is a response to an urgent global challenge: how to make sense of the conflicting claims and information bandied about on all matters eco. The book is filled with insights like this one:

"Leaving mobile phone chargers plugged in is often held up as an example of a behavioural eco-crime. The truth is that the amount of energy saved by switching off a phone charger is exactly the same as the energy used by driving an average car for one second".


Although you can buy a hardcopy, the book is also available as a free download - go here

Friday, April 10, 2009

Transforming Cities into Food Generators

Apparently in 2007 Lord Cameron of Dillington, first head of the UK Countryside Agency, famously remarked that - "Britain was ‘nine meals away from anarchy.’ Britain's food supply is so totally dependent on oil - 95 per cent of the food eaten there is oil-dependent - that if the oil supply to Britain were suddenly to be cut off it would take just three full days before law and order broke down. "We rely on a particularly vulnerable system. Britain needs to invest seriously in agriculture infrastructure if we are to avoid food crisis" said the noble Lord at the time". Here is an interesting post over at Doors of Perception that discusses this further:


I'm not sure that much action has so far followed these remarks, but an exhibition opening in London next month explores what those investments might be. The show looks at different ways that cities might be transformed from consumers of food to generators of agricultural products, and at how food production can be incorporated into the urban environment at both industrial and domestic levels.

A highlight of the London show is a photographic and filmic record of the Dott 07 Urban Farming project in Middlesbrough. Good to see London following so promptly - only three or four years behind the northern town. In Middlesbrough itself, since Dott 07 itself ended, the town's Council is expanding the Urban Farming programme. The Bohm and Viljoen map (below), created for Dott 07, that plots sites of productive potential, is a reference point for a raft of new initiatives. The Council recently won a £4 million (4.3 million euro) grant to run a "cocktail" (their word) of food and health projects, and the plan is to make the Town Meal an annual event to showcase the results of this new work.



Read more at - 'London "nine meals away from anarchy"'

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tesla unveils the electric 'family car of the future'

Tesla Motors continues to 'unveil' it's latest car etc..... the company has been promising alot for a long time and little has materialized. This - reported by the Guardian - is their latest offering...yet their product is still for those with money...and in today's world... will they have missed the boat?



Media gather around the new Tesla Model S all-electric sedan car

Media gather around the Tesla Model S at the car's unveiling in Hawthorne, California. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Tesla Motors yesterday unveiled a pair of prototype all-electric cars that the fledgling automaker hopes will be the family friendly, mid-sized car of the future.

"Welcome to Model S," said designer Franz von Holzhausen as he pulled the covers off the cars, which will seat seven people and travel 300 miles (483km) on a single charge.

Tesla hopes to begin producing the flashy, five-door car at a yet-to-be-disclosed location in Southern California by the final quarter of 2011.

Within a year, it wants to turn out as many as 20,000 of the vehicles annually.


Read more at - 'Tesla unveils the electric 'family car of the future''

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Communities print own currencies

More movement in the micro-finances; we see a not unexpected rise in communities issuing there own local currencies in an effort to promote localised growth. One report notes that

A small but growing number of cash-strapped communities are printing their own money.

Borrowing from a Depression-era idea, they are aiming to help consumers make ends meet and support struggling local businesses.

The systems generally work like this: Businesses and individuals form a network to print currency. Shoppers buy it at a discount — say, 95 cents for $1 value — and spend the full value at stores that accept the currency.

Workers with dwindling wages are paying for groceries, yoga classes and fuel with Detroit Cheers, Ithaca Hours in New York, Plenty in North Carolina or BerkShares in Massachusetts.




Read more at - 'Communities print own currencies'

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

From Soviet-era Ferry to Luxury Yacht

Here's another oddity of conversion. An unnamed Siberian governor decided it would be a good idea to convert a 1970s Soviet high-speed ferry boat into a personal luxury yacht:


Boat1


The vessel started life in the 1970s as a Metor hydrofoil, the most famous model of passenger ferry to operate behind the Iron Curtain. With legendary reliability and a top speed of 40 mph, numerous other Meteors remain in service in former Eastern-bloc countries. This particular boat was taken off ferry duty and converted for private use in 2005. Before and after floor plans show that the boat's passenger seats and snack bars were replaced with sitting areas, a full kitchen, dining room, bedrooms, and a swimming platform. The only non-cosmetic renovations were new "de Laval" style exhaust nozzles meant to increase the boat's top speed.

Even with that added thrust, this boat can't escape good taste. The public areas are stylish enough for an evil genius in search of a chic hideout, but that's where the design philosophy begins to crumble. Animal skins, white leather couches, and shag carpeting reveal a fantasy of a Soviet teen who, after reading smuggled copies of Playboy, built his boyhood dream of what a Nixon-era American bachelor pad looked like. Judging by that cat-astrophic leopard-print master bedroom, we think the boat's new name of "Faithful" is meant to be ironic.


Boat3




Read more at - 'Soviet-era Passenger Ferry is One Boat-Ugly Luxury Yacht'

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Friday, April 03, 2009

Do we now need ID cards for regional trips?

Another worrying development in the realm of 'restricted mobilities': this time the proposal for needing to track the movements of around 60million domestic UK passengers a year:

Passengers on ferries to the Isle of Wight and Scottish islands such as Mull and Skye will soon have to carry identity papers to comply with new police anti-terror powers.

And travellers flying between British cities or to Northern Ireland face having their personal data logged when booking tickets and checking in.

Until now ferry passengers on most routes in Britain have not been required to produce ID and internal flight passengers only face random police checks.

But under new Government security rules that will come into force next year, personal data, including name, date of birth and home address, will be typed into a computer record for the police by the booking clerk or travel agent.

Passengers will also face further ID checks when boarding their flight or ferry.


I would like to think that this was an April Fool's joke - yet the story was last updated on 29th March '09....

Read original article - 'Now we need ID cards for a trip to the Isle of Wight'

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Car surveillance box to track drivers

Here is something that was discussed in the forthcoming book 'After the Car' - the introduction of 'black boxes' on cars to enable the tracking of the whereabouts of drivers anywhere in Europe. The Guardian reports that

The government is backing a project to install a "communication box" in new cars to track the whereabouts of drivers anywhere in Europe, the Guardian can reveal.

Under the proposals, vehicles will emit a constant "heartbeat" revealing their location, speed and direction of travel. The EU officials behind the plan believe it will significantly reduce road accidents, congestion and carbon emissions. A consortium of manufacturers has indicated that the router device could be installed in all new cars as early as 2013.

However, privacy campaigners warned last night that a European-wide car tracking system would create a system of almost total road surveillance.

Details of the Cooperative Vehicle-Infrastructure Systems (CVIS) project, a £36m EU initiative backed by car manufacturers and the telecoms industry, will be unveiled this year.


Also, that

The system uses the same connections as those in mobile telephones, Wi-Fi internet and security tags attached to clothes in shops.

A car will constantly stay in touch via all these methods of communication, stashed in a router behind the dashboard.

Crucially, vehicles beam out a "heartbeat" message, revealing their precise location, speed and direction, to all other cars within a 400m range.

Read - 'Highway Wi-Fi: How the new tracking system works'



Read original article at 'Big Brother is watching: surveillance box to track drivers is backed'

With this and the new e-borders scheme blogged previously, it sounds as if all mobilities will be under near-total surveillance: is this the future?

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Monday, March 30, 2009

AFTER THE CAR - soon to be published


KINGSLEY DENNIS & JOHN URRY

After The Car




• A provocative exploration of a possible future without the car, from two leading sociologists.
• Examines the impact of global warming, global population increases and the peaking of oil supplies, among other things, on the future of how we travel.
• Argues that there will come a time in the future where, by necessity, the present car system will be‘re-designed’ and‘re-engineered’.
• After The Car will interest sociologists, policy makers, industry, as well as the general reader. It will be of interest to every ‘car user’.



It is difficult to imagine a world without the car, and yet that is exactly what Dennis and Urry set out to do in this provocative new book. They argue that the days of the car are numbered: powerful forces around the world are undermining the car system and will usher in a new transport system sometime in the next few decades. Specifically, the book examines how several major processes are shaping the future of how we travel, including:
• Global warming and its many global consequences
• Peaking of oil supplies
• Increased digitisation of many aspects of economic and social life
• Massive global population increases
The authors look at changes in technology, policy, economy and society, and make a convincing argument for a future where, by necessity, the present car system will be re-designed and re-engineered.

Yet the book also suggests that there are some hugely bleak dilemmas facing the twenty first century. The authors lay out what they consider to be possible ‘post-car’ future scenarios. These they describe as ‘local sustainability’, ‘regional warlordism’ and ‘digital networks of control’.

Some have described the 20th Century as the century of the car. Now the century has come to a close – and things are about to change.

publication details

8 May ~ 212 pages

978-0-7456-4421-9 Hardback £45.00 / $59.95

978-0-7456-4422-6 Paperback £14.99 / $19.95

the author

Kingsley Dennis was formerly Research Associate in the Centre for Mobilities Research (CeMoRe) at Lancaster University. John Urry is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and CeMoRe Director at Lancaster University

for more information/ interviews /review copy requests

CONTACT: Amandine Decam, Polity Marketing

Tel: 01865 476146

Email: afdecam@wiley.com

Friday, March 27, 2009

India's Other Small Car

Most people are talking about Tata's 'Nano' but fewer are discussing Reva's electric alternative... bad news for the future of the small-car market? Here's what some are saying...

The Reva rolls out in New Dehli, June 2008.
AP

The Reva rolls out in New Dehli, June 2008.

The capillaries of India's cities are clogged with every imaginable form of conveyance: hulking buses, braying bullock carts and motorbikes stacked with families of five. The result is that most of India's commuters idle in traffic for hours a day. The government is trying to play catch-up with a long string of mass transit projects, but most residents pine for the status, peace and luxury of a car of their own.

The Tata Nano, set to launch on Monday after almost a year of delays, is an Indian-manufactured, gasoline-powered car priced at about $2,000. Billed as "the world's cheapest car," it's also a nightmare for environmentalists, who predict sky-high sales will pollute India's already smog-filled air. So why isn't India's other indigenous automotive invention -- the Reva -- taking the world by storm?

The Reva is the world's most successful electric vehicle. It's manufactured on the outskirts of Bangalore, in southern India, and has fans all over the world. In spite of patented technologies, government subsidies, a groundswell of interest in electric vehicles, though, the Reva is unlikely to dent in the global car market with as much force as the Nano.



Read more at 'The Reva, Hope-Bearer for Cleaner Air?'

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Facebook could be monitored by the government

Unsettling, yet not totally unsurprising, to hear that Facebook, Bebo, MySpace and other social networking websites 'could be monitored by the government in an attempt to tackle internet crime and terrorism'. The UK's Telegraph reports that


The Home Office is considering plans to force such sites to hold data about their users' movements to thwart criminals who use them to communicate.The information would then be stored on a central database as part of the government's proposed Intercept Modernisation Programme.

However, Vernon Coaker, Minister of State for policing, crime and security, has told MPs that it does not go far enough.Mr Coaker told a Commons Committee: "Social-networking sites, such as MySpace or Bebo, are not covered by the directive.

"That is one reason why the government are looking at what we should do about the Intercept Modernisation Programme (IMP), because there are certain aspects of communications which are not covered by the directive."

The news has outraged civil liberties groups who claim that the plans would excessively pry into the lives of law abiding citizens.




Read more at 'Facebook could be monitored by the government'

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Filmmaker plans "Eyeborg" eye-socket camera

Here's a another addition to the Steve Mann sphere of personal 'cyborg-veillance' - a Canadian filmmaker plans to have a mini camera installed in his prosthetic eye to make documentaries and raise awareness about surveillance in society:

Rob Spence, 36, who lost an eye in an accident as a teen-ager, said his so-called Project Eyeborg is to have the camera, a battery and a wireless transmitter mounted on a tiny circuit board. www.eyeborgblog.com/

"Originally the whole idea was to do a documentary about surveillance. I thought I would become a sort of super hero ... fighting for justice against surveillance," Spence said.

"In Toronto there are 12,000 cameras. But the strange thing I discovered was that people don't care about the surveillance cameras, they were more concerned about me and my secret camera eye because they feel that is a worse invasion of their privacy."

Spence, in Brussels to appear at a media conference, said no part of the camera would be connected to his nerves or brain.



Read more at - 'Filmmaker plans "Eyeborg" eye-socket camera'

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Tracking Forest Creatures on the Move



The NY Times has a piece on a system for tracking animals. Called the Automated Radio Telemetry System, the method relies on seven 130-foot-high radio towers scattered across the island that can monitor data from many radio-tagged individuals simultaneously, round the clock, through the calendar:

Once an animal has been outfitted with a transmitting device, the towers can track its unique radio signature and, by a process of triangulation, indicate where it is on the island, whether it’s moving or at rest, what other radio-endowed individuals it encounters.

The constant data streams feed into computers at a central lab building on the island, allowing researchers to stay abreast of far more animal sagas than they could possibly follow through direct observation, and to make the best of their hours in the field. If you see an extended flat line on your computer monitor, it’s time to go out, retrieve the corpse and figure out what happened.

And because transmitters can now be made as light as two-tenths of a gram, scientists can tag and track katydids, orchid bees, monarch butterflies, even plant seeds.

“Automated systems like this are ushering in a new era of animal tracking,” said Roland Kays, another institute research associate. “There’s a lot of potential for seeing the routes animals take and the decisions they make every step of the way.”


Read more at - 'Tracking Forest Creatures on the Move'

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