Tag "technology"

From NPRGoogle And Privacy: Is It Time To Give Up?


Google says it is initiating the changes for the good of the user. Consumer advocates and privacy-protection groups don’t see it that way. They fear that Google is gathering too much personal information — without a person’s consent — and spreading it all over the place. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who is co-chairman of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, is quoted in The Boston Globe as saying: “The new Google privacy policy is: You have no privacy.”

So is Google good or not? Helpful or not? And what about Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Amazon and others who seem to be all up in his grill and clocking his every move? They roll out new timelines, new service agreements, new possibilities. Sometimes they shut down familiar formats and useful applications with nary an apology or explanation. They remind us who calls the shots.


I’m not a huge fan of the new privacy policy.  I mean, we’re using free services that are provided by companies, so we should expect that the companies would want something in return.  And really, the things Google knows about me aren’t controversial, damning, or incriminating.  But I feel violated somehow.  Maybe I should start signing out of my Google accounts when I browse the web?  That’s what I do with Facebook.  And Amazon.  I just feel a little… used.

Wired.co.uk suggests that I might be over-thinking this — Google’s not selling my information to anybody, just using it to refine my ad experience.  I should be grateful that I’m not seeing the watered-down generic ads aimed at the masses, but tailor-fit, possibly even insightful bids for my dollar.  I hear what they’re saying but I feel like this is a “give a moose a muffin” type issue.  Phone companies, ISPs, social networks, and search engines are using personal information about their users to make money.   The data is cheap, descriptive, bountiful, and it literally pours itself into their databases.  And why shouldn’t they use it?  I don’t know.   I do know that if my local grocer had a store clerk follow me to the bookstore to see what I was reading, I would flip out.  In the end, all I have is a gut feeling that says I should be wary.  It seems like a compromise we have to make to use cool new tech, at least for the time being, until user anonymity becomes an attractive marketing strategy.

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Yesterday, I came across some mind blowing technology videos that I just had to share.

Word Lens
This is future. Feels very … ubiquitous, in a way.

L.A. Noire Facial Animation Technology
Spectacular facial animations. Best I’ve seen yet for games. Great use of normal maps too (I assume) to get all the wrinkles and creases just right. Just spectacular.

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Somebody (William?) had a lot of fun designing this stove.  All around, it seems like a pretty significant advance in stove-top tech:

[h/t Davison Creators]

It looks like a lot of fun to play with, but the designers don’t seem to address what I consider to be the #1 problem with electric stoves: thermal inertia.  Gas stoves are great because you have the option of instantly reducing or increasing the cooking temperature.  With electric stoves this is much less convenient — expecially if you want to go from high to low heat — and can easily lead to scalding.  You always have the option of changing the heating element you’re using, but then you get caught playing musical pots.  I suppose the 21 possible signatures could come in handy then.

I’m curious to see what Juicers think: do you prefer gas or electric stoves?  How do you feel about the UI on “The William”?

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In the vein of keeping this discussion on technology going, I wanted to bring up an article I read in The New Yorker a few weeks back that raised some interesting questions about the limits of technology in solving certain global challenges.

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… [Some] researchers compare the lure of digital stimulation less to that of drugs and alcohol than to food and sex, which are essential but counterproductive in excess.

The New York Times Science section has an in-depth article about the ups and downs of our our increasingly technological lifestyles.  Someone over there must be getting their daily dose of Juice!

Much of the story is told by following a slice of the life of Mr. Kord Campbell, a 43 year old family man, software developer, entrepreneur, and gadget user.  It’s a good read. Here it is.

[UPDATE: An earlier version of this post listed Mr. Campbell's first name as "Thomas", which is his given name]

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I am finishing up the book Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven (great author) and there is a quote in it that made me think of Brian’s post about “Technology Is Not Making You Stupider.”

Anyways, here is some context of the quote. World is essentially post-apocalyptic. Technology is gone. I believe this was written in the 70s so there is no internet but obviously technology does not just mean computers. A guy is wandering around when a thief comes up behind him to steal a his windbreaker. The guy being stolen from says this:

“Do you know what you’re stealing?” [his] bitter sense of loss went deeper than his common sense. “They can’t make the materials anymore. They can’t make the machines to shape it. There was a company in New Jersey, and it made that jacket in five sizes and sold it so cheap you could toss one in your car trunk and forget it for ten years. You didn’t even have to go looking for it. The company hunted you down and sent you thick packets of advertisements. How long will it be before anyone can do that again?”

The book deals a lot with the struggles that today’s man would have if technology / civilization disappeared in a flash. A good reminder to those that want to go back to the “simple times” that perhaps they weren’t so simple after all.

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One thing that really makes me flip is these all too common tropes on how technology is making you dumber.  With all the accusations flying around (the Internet, Google, Wikipedia, iPhones, etc.) you’d think that we would have all been reduced to drooling morons by now.

I really hate this mindset.  Someone please explain to me how remembering someone’s phone number makes you smarter?  Or remembering exactly where every Safeway is in the greater Phoenix area?  Or attempting to deduce the weather conditions with my eyeballs?

This is garbage.  If anything, technology is making us amazingly smarter, by freeing up our brain capacity to focus on other things, specifically those that robots are not good at.  You know, like actually learning, and applying information, rather than wasting brain cells on remembering a catalog of 10 digit numbers.

To take this a little further, do you think people were similarly lamenting to Gutenberg in the 15th century, because people no longer needed to remember epic poems in their entirety?  This sounds really stupid, right?  That’s because it is.

Google, the Internet, and iPhones have made human beings smarter, more efficient, and significantly more productive.  The only piece of technology that may have made people dumber is television, the defining technological element of baby boomers, who, ironically, are usually the authors of this alarmist bullshit.

Stop it.

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Oh The Future, you’re getting ever so close.

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I hate corruption, don’t you?

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I’m still laughing

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Here they go again with their special magic boxes of computer technology. Check out the GUI on the computer screen half way through, thing looks intimidating.

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Man this so uses that idea I had when I was twelve that I called the “Theory of Infinite Possibilities”. I really need to write a full post on that someday…but I’m sure it’s already been a fully developed theory by some other mad scientist genius at this point.

Update: Go here if you feel like trying this out (Java required)

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Official Site Here

From ReadWriteWeb’s writeup:

…Regardless of the attendance, one thing is for sure: with nearly ubiquitous access to cameras and video equipment, this will be the most well-documented inauguration, ever. Now, the Microsoft Photosynth team has announced that they will be making the event even more memorable – by creating a three-dimensional “synth” of the inauguration from your photos.

Sounds pretty cool, right?  So how does one participate?

1. Take one photo of the moment when Obama takes the oath. If you have a digital camera with a zoom lens, take three photos (wide-angle, mid-zoom, full-zoom)

2. E-mail each photo as soon as possible to themoment@cnn.com (one photo per message, 10MB size limit). Don’t forget to include your name in the message if you’d like to appear in the list of the contributors. Please only send in photos you took yourself.

3. Go to cnn.com/themoment to see all of the photos in our photosynth

The good news? Anyone with a digital camera can participate and take part in recording history. In addition to the Photosynth project, all of the photos will also be shared via iReport. Then, there’s the bad news. If you want to see the finished work in all its glory, you have to have access to a Windows machine. Photosynth is only fully supported support Vista and XP currently. But they do offer an experimental Silverlight-based Photosynth player for other platforms. (I used the experimental viewer and it worked very well.)

Brian you should so get in on that.

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