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April 2005

Irish Punctuality

Worldclock THE LISTINGS IN THE PAPER say the film in the cineplex will start at 2050. In Kilkenny time, that means expect the censor's rating to scroll on screen shortly before 9PM. While living in Germany, you reset your watch if it wasn't on time when the film started at the posted minute. Cultures time things different ways. In Arthouse, European broadcasters attending a course that I taught needed to know if the agenda reflected European time or Mediterranean time. The Finns did not enjoy the Greek and Italian tempo when it related to morning starts. To counter the daily barrage of sniping about slipping contact times, I simply added a tagline to the daily production notes: "Apologies for any inconvenience caused"  because that's what you hear inside most Irish train stations during the Friday rush hour. Then there's Japan, where Joi Ito explains Japanese punctuality on the day the International Herald Tribune ran its front page story about the Japanese obsession with being on time.

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Stackable CD indexer

StakkaI HAVE STACKS OF STUFF so when I read Charles Arthur's review of the Imation Stakka CD Storage system, I thought it might be a cool way of reducing the two shelves of computer CDs that I have sitting beside my desk. There are Open Source alternatives as well but Disc Stakka is an automated carousel that stores, protects and retrieves 12 cm optical discs. They can be data CDs, DVDs, music and game discs. Each €145 Stakka unit holds up to 100 discs and connects to your computer via USB for power and data. Like my 3Com stackable hubs, I can put up to five high in clusters and create a tower that holds up to 500 discs without requiring additional cabling or desk space. I would easily have a personal terrabyte of indexed storage this way. You need to let your own computer read the disc, which is then indexed the OpdiTracker content management software. OpdiTracker is actually a database and search engine that you can browse to find files. I could confidently keep my images files on CD instead of buying (and trusting) additional external hard drive space. Using an electronic search engine helps locate any disc or file within seconds. That would be helpful because the stuff I need on the shelf is always deep into the corners when I go searching by hand.

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Money in feeds

POTB -- I watched a Zenark scraper buzz through dozens of screens filled with news listings before concluding there is little money to be made in charging people for a selection of onlne newsfeeds. Once someone creates a thematic list of quality newsfeeds, someone else will scrape it and repackage it. The feed at Technorati is already scraped by Intelliseek, read by mainstream journos and harvested by aggregators. In the venture capital realm, Feedburner drew down $7 million in second round funding. There's a message behind all this activity. It concerns the intersection of information and advertising.

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New bike

Shift BikeTHREE PURDUE UNIVERSITY industrial designers who tapped into memories of their own childhood cycling misadventures have built a bike that ditches the training wheels but keeps rookies stable. Called SHIFT, it slowly transforms from a tricycle to bicycle configuration as the rider pedals faster, then returns to trike formation as the rider slows down. If I had one of these years ago, I wouldn't have a scar on my right knee.

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Tiger Ships

GULKER -- Despite the threat of an injunction in the States, Tiger has shipped to European sales locations and it's in the channel for release. This new Apple operating system blurs the line between the internet, local services and personal files. I've seen IrishEyes and other newsfeeds running on it as a screensaver and it's quite cool to see floating around on desktops as the day meanders by. I think Tiger users don't care where they get their interesting stuff, they just get it and go from there. Beyond Tiger, there is .Mac but that service is "barely compelling in its current state, only attracting 500,000 of the 25 million or so Mac users," according to power user Chris Gulker, who likes "the easy iPhoto slide show sharing". It could do a lot more. Gulker mentions some other interesting things.

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Make it a sensory experience

TEMPLE BAR -- Well beyond the second bottle of wine on a sunny afternoon on the rooftop of Studio Six, several Irish artists were talking about ways to wean the marketing industry from making advertisements for television, a medium that Martin Linstrom thinks will soon be watched only by sozzled juveniles armed with the technology enabling them to skip the ads. In such a world, how can companies build new brands?

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Kidnap Me. I'm American.

NTK -- Need to Know reports an incident at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference where the US State Department said that its new RFID passports could only be read from 10cm away. A few minutes after that claim, Barry Steinhardt of the ACLU turned up and read it from a meter away. State Department officials immediately said the passport will be encrypted. NTK wonder if al the bits will be scrambled, even the little signals that say, "Hey! I'm an American with a valuable passport! Kidnap me!"


Spy Blog -- "Contactless RFID Biometric Passports in the UK: Same risks as US RFID Passports"

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