Monday, February 28, 2011

Tiny device could transform mobile communications

The Guardian UK has a post on a new device that could transform mobile communications - a golf ball-sized mobile phone base station that can be deployed 'almost anywhere' in the world:

lightRadio cube 

Mobile phone base stations no bigger than a golf ball could help to bridge the digital divide and bring mobile broadband to distant areas both in the developing and developed world, the networking company Alcatel-Lucent has claimed.

The company said on Monday that its new technology, which shrinks many of the functions of a standard base station down to a few chips which fit in a cube it calls "lightRadio", would mean that mobile networks could run their systems with lower power demands and half the cost overall, while broadening deployment. The "lightRadio" technology, which will be tested by a number of mobile operators around the world including Orange, Verizon in the US and the world's largest network, China Mobile, could halve network operating costs and do the same for power demands, said Wim Sweldens, head of the company's mobile business at a presentation in London.

The base stations – reduced from the bulky cabinet of past years to a system-on-a-chip integrated circuit made by semiconductor company Freescale – can be installed wherever there is electricity, and can then connect either over an internet connection or via microwave links to processing units elsewhere.

 Read more at - 'Tiny device could transform mobile communications'


Friday, February 25, 2011

For Funerals Too Far, Mourners Gather on the Web

The New York Times has an interesting post on the trend in web-streaming weddings, funerals, and like-minded events:

In an age of commemorating birthdays, weddings and anniversaries on Facebook and Twitter, it was perhaps inevitable that live Web-streaming funerals for friends and loved ones would be next.

It is no surprise that the deaths of celebrities, like Michael Jackson, or honored political figures, like the United States diplomat Richard Holbrooke, are promoted as international Web events. So, too, was the memorial service for the six people killed Jan. 8 in Tucson, which had thousands of viewers on the Web.
But now the once-private funerals and memorials of less-noted citizens are also going online. 

Several software companies have created easy-to-use programs to help funeral homes cater to bereaved families. FuneralOne a one-stop shop for online memorials that is based in St. Clair, Mich., has seen the number of funeral homes offering Webcasts increase to 1,053 in 2010, from 126 in 2008 (it also sells digital tribute DVDs). 

During that same period, Event by Wire, a competitor in Half Moon Bay, Calif., watched the number of funeral homes live-streaming services jump to 300 from 80. And this month, the Service Corporation International in Houston, which owns 2,000 funeral homes and cemeteries, including the venerable Frank E. Campbell funeral chapel on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, said it was conducting a pilot Webcasting program at 16 of its funeral homes.

Read more at 'For Funerals Too Far, Mourners Gather on the Web'


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Social networks vs. US Intelligence

 Al Jazeera's John Terrett reports in a video (see link below) how,

The heads of US intelligence agencies have been testifying before a congressional committee on issues regarding threats to the country's national security. Recent political revolts have exposed the failure of intelligence services to timely alert the White House about the situations in Egypt and Tunisia.

Questions have emerged as to how the intelligence services were less well informed than people on Facebook and Twitter about the spirit of revolution enveloping the Middle East.

Read more here - 'Social networks vs. US Intelligence'


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Social networks, social revolution

Have Youtube, Facebook and Twitter become the new weapons of mass mobilisation? This is what Al-Jazeera is now discussing on one of their programs:

Information is power, but 21st century technology has unleashed an information revolution, and now the genie is out of the bottle. Youtube, Facebook and Twitter have become the new weapons of mass mobilisation; geeks have taken on dictators; bloggers are dissidents; and social networks have become rallying forces for social justice.

As people around the world challenge authorities, from Iran to Tunisia, Egypt to Yemen, entire societies are being transformed as ordinary citizens see the difference, imagine the alternative, and come together to organise for a better future.

So, are social networks triggering social revolution? And where will the next domino fall?

Joining Marwan Bishara to discuss these issues are: Carl Bernstein, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist; Amy Goodman, the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!; Professor Emily Bell, the director of digital journalism at Columbia University; Evgeny Morozov, the author of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom; Professor Clay Shirky, the author of Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age.

This episode of Empire can be seen from Thursday, February 17, at the following times GMT: Thursday: 0630, 2030; Friday: 1230; Saturday: 0130; Sunday: 0630, 2010.

See more - and watch the video - over at 'Social networks, social revolution


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cuba ‘goes digital’

It appears from this post over at EuroNews that Cuba is finally embracing the 'digital age'...will it also encourage social networking and 'smart mobs' I wonder??

More than five decades after the Cuban revolution, the Caribbean island has embraced the digital revolution. A high-speed fibre optic Internet cable connecting Cuba with Venezuela arrived on the island on Wednesday. It was brought ashore in a ceremony attended by dignitaries from both countries.

Officials say it will provide a connection speed 3,000 times faster than at present. Despite the revamped access, authorities say Internet use will be limited to “social” purposes and that priority would be given to developing public Internet access centres, especially in universities and other educational institutions.

Read more at 'Cuba ‘goes digital’


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

A future without car crashes?

The BBC website has an interesting piece on the latest technologies in the auto-industry, including auto-braking and the 'intelligent windscreen' to try to eliminate fatal car crashes:

More than a million people die in car accidents each year but experts in the industry now believe fatal smashes could be eliminated. Some hope there could be an end to car crashes altogether. Scientists and engineers are developing technology and enhancements to cars that would aid drivers to the extent that crashes would become rarer events. Bad weather conditions and poor judgement would be mitigated by the car itself.

But in the short term the focus is on car crash victims, with sophisticated technology being mapped out to ensure drivers can survive even truly catastrophic accidents..

...Volvo believe in the future they can stop cars from ever crashing. They are developing auto-braking technology to ensure cars come to a stop when they sense another car coming close to them - both from the front and the side...

 ...At General Motors' research lab in Detroit, scientists are investigating how the car itself can make up for our shortcomings - by enhancing the driver's senses.
They are developing a prototype windscreen, which they hope will give drivers a kind of "superhuman" vision - the Advanced Vision System.

Read more at - 'A future without car crashes?'


Friday, February 04, 2011

Cyber attacks: from Facebook to nuclear weapons

The Telegraph has a short piece on how cyber attacks are set to become part of everyday life in the 21st Century, citing such targets as social networking sites to secret nuclear facilities; and the need to establish new global conventions: 

World leaders are facing calls to amend the Geneva and Hague conventions to draw up “rules of engagement” for “cyber war”. Here are some of main types of cyber attack:
Denial-of-Service (DoS):
Also known as distributed denial-of-service attack (DdoS), this involves crmiinals attempting to bring down or cripple individual websites, computers or networks often by flooding them with messages.
Malicious software designed to take over individuals’ computers in order to spread a bug onto other people’s devices or social networking profiles. It can also infect a computer and turn it into part of a “botnet” – networks of computers controlled remotely by hackers known as “herders” to spread spam or virusus. 

State cyber attacks:
US and Israeli intelligence agencies are believed to have recently used a mysterious computer virus called Stuxnet to carry out an invisible attack on Iran’s secretive nuclear programme.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently admitted that its facilities had been infected by the programme which appears to target and disable uranium enrichment centrifuges....
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