Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Choices choices - chicken netflix blockbuster sony xbox turkey comcast!

Nope - I'm not trying to provide keyword stuffing this thanksgiving!

Blockbuster just announced yet another way to watch movies on demand - via their new 2Wire set-top box. Now, should I turn off Comcast On Demand (which works quite well when the movie I care about is available), or should I try my PS3 movie streaming, or should I try some other jittery service?

Just as the phone, music player and PIM came together as the ..., it is time for the cable set-top box to get assimilated (Soncast!) by the Blu-ray player. The problem is that today both provide only one axis each of the x-y graph!

Now that Hulu and YouTube are going widescreen and waiting in the wings - maybe the right thing to do is wait for the Google game-top-box!

Happy thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The chip implant is here!

Indonesia is on a controversial path to implant RFID chips in HIV/AIDS patients in order to track, and punish aberrant high-risk candidates who transmit HIV to uninfected people.

John Manansang, one of the proponents of this technique to reduce the incidence of HIV in the Papua provinces, is being compared (by Gizmodo ) to the Nazis when he states, quite directly:
It's a simple technology. A signal from the microchip will track their movements and this will be received by monitoring authorities.
This is an interesting ethical threshold. Voluntary use of RFIDs, e.g., kids at theme-parks, is often endorsed. Medical information tracking has been an application.

GPS tracking is often the choice for non-violent criminals, as they can avoid incarceration by opting for this ignominous limitation. Even Martha Stewart had to settle for home arrest for several months via use of an electronic monitoring bracelet. RFID has been advocated for tracking evidence.

Human rights and privacy advocates refer to the rights to the non-violable body, and the 4th Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures, including bodily intrusions.

There are two questions here - (a) can these HIV patients be treated as criminals (or criminal evidence) who wantonly spread the disease and (b) if they are, is the RFID chip tracking equivalent to the electronic bracelet that Martha had no choice but wear?

Just make it a fashion statement and the problem will be solved! Of course, the chip could give you a tumor!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Anonymity breeds contempt?

In this new online social world, it isn't familiarity, but anonymity that breeds contempt! The avatar, the nickname, the unknown person behind the login - these seem to give people a way to express opinions, or otherwise blurt out, what they might not say under normal circumstances!

The video streaming suicide that recently played out on, with apparently a few who egged the suicidal teen to his death, shows that the social dynamics in an unknown Internet environment can be somewhat unpredictable. Apparently, this teen had faked this kind of episode in the past, but does that give people the right to be flippant, derogatory or hateful?

How about this other case of a teen's suicide based on others creating a fake romance on the Web - how far will this new world go?

Another word about anonymity - it is ephemeral - eventually, there'll be ways - by oversight or purposeful - by which you can be discovered on-line!

A skunk, by any other name, still stinks!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Charge me up Silicon Valley!

Countering Disneyland's claim of being a Small World, Silicon Valley now claims to be a Better Place now!

Silicon Valley just endorsed a bold $1B plan for Better Place, a venture-based startup, to create a network of battery stations, that plans to enable a network and subscription model to push effective use of electric vehicles bu 2012. 

They are not building cars - but the network to refuel them, so that longer-distance trips are actually feasible.  Multiple manufacturers, including Nissan-Renault, GM, Tesla and Norwegian Think, will supply the vehicles, and Better Place plans to install about 250,000 charging ports, 200 battery-exchange stations and a control center to service Bay Area electric car drivers! 

I'm not entirely sure how it works - but ... customers will subscribe to drive a certain number of miles and get an electric vehicle at a discounted price.  Better Place will own the battery.

Will Silicon Valley be a better place soon?  This sounds like change I can believe in.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Talking *to* your phone makes sense!

Pushing the envelope in a consumer-friendly way, the Google App for the iPhone takes you from push-to-talk to talk-to-search! While voice recognition existed many years ago, via IBM Via Voice, and Dragon Naturally Speaking, etc., they were mostly limited to specific environments, such as medical applications.

I used IBM Voice Command more than 10 years ago (limited vocabulary for PC commands), and could voice-dial my contacts on my Sony-Ericsson Walkman phone 3 years back (you record the names a priori for recognition) - but these were not open ended, non-trained systems.

I guess voice recognition is finally coming of age! I am about 5 years behind on a bet!

Speak now, or forever hold your peace!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Blurring real and virtual worlds!

Although I kinda understand the rationale, I am still pretty amused ... a couple in the U.K. just split up because the husband's avatar was caught having an affair in Second Life!

I guess online behavior is an outlet for real-life, and may even explain why violent games are so popular. Do people find violent video games an acceptable outlet for violence?

Though some of the reasoning may have logic, this incident seems to be an overwhelming meld of real and imaginary.

The most amusing part? Apparently the husband is now engaged to the owner of his virtual amour, and the wife is now involved with someone in the World of Warcraft!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Brasil ....all the way!

What happens when a Brazilian soccer fan visits Brazil and goes to Maracana Stadium?

He brings back official Brazil T-Shirts for his soccer-playing boys!!!

I love yellow!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A significant departure - Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton died of cancer at 66 - and it is a significant loss.

He was part of many of our Thursday nights in Silicon Valley and New York - his E.R., now running, ironically, it's last season on T.V, has been a favo(u)rite for many years, colo(u)ring our view of the medical profession (usually red)!

His science fiction really had the ability to blur the line between science and fiction. At the very least, his ideas drove imagination.

Jurassic Park, brought to the screen by Spielberg (Time 100) in amazing fashion, speaks volumes of what he was capable of.

Rising Sun and Disclosure - I didn't realize that those were his books too - what a range!

A special man - Michael Crichton.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The rubber hits the road.

Obama wins the presidency in historical fashion! What he accomplished is impressive and unique.

Now, the magic show begins - but even as the curtains rise, the questioning has begun... what will he DO? Will he disappoint?

Starting with the Russian skirmishes, doubts about how he will pay for his healthcare plan, what he will (or not) accomplish in the middle-east, how he will handle issues like air-strikes on wedding parties, what he will do on outsourcing and taxes, how he will deliver on his campaign promises, how he will deal with the economic goes on and on ...

What rabbits will he pull from his hat?

Monday, November 3, 2008

The political Internet!

The Internet is now being used more and more as a political tool. Natural, I guess, since newspapers have been doing this for many years. I guess the Internet used to be the non-elite media, but power is shifting in a hurry.

Last month, Obama used video games to get his message out. Obama, Hillary and the other candidates also used the Web to fuel grassroots campaigns, raising millions of dollars of funds, and taking Internet fundraising to a new level.

The CNN YouTube debates during the primaries, and the CNN Facebook People's debate, the candidates' Twitter presences, are all a testament to how the Web directs politics!

Candidates showing up on Saturday Night Live have their shows immediately broadcast on sites like Hulu, for immediate impact! Even email accounts are being hacked in order to help a political statement or cause!

Now, the battle of Proposition 8 (Anti-gay-marriage) is being fought using TCP/IP!! Google and Apple, among other high-profile companies in the Valley, have come out on blogs (against the proposition) to support their diverse workforces.

Google Ads are being used to get the yes-messsage out (even on my own blog!!)- and Adwords, Adsense are being criticized for triggering on these keywords. These systems are expected to be sophisticated enough to be able to understand a gay-site from a non-gay-site, and automatically self-moderate - while this is possible, it will likely not happen in time for the elections tomorrow!

The Internet isn't political enough...yet!