Monthly Archive for July, 2008

Watching morph into delicious…

As a die-hard user with 2,969 bookmarks today, it’s nice to see an old friend dressed for future. Gone is the minimal typographical-centric design, and in with the aggressive cubic shades of blue, black and grey.

At first glance I was thrown off a little by the redesign (also search is faster!), but thankfully their neat “morphing” video above helped me graduate with the times. For the rest of us, there’s the What’s New guide to hint us along.

Just for fun: I looked back in time to see what my first ever bookmarks were, and it looks like I started geekin’ it out back on Feb 22nd, 2005. Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools spelled it out real well for me.

What’s your first ever delicious bookmark?

Singapore Biometric Passport in hand (and how to anti-RFID it)

Biometric Singapore Passport in hand...

While I haven’t heard of any Singapore RFID-enabled passports being cloned yet, I did hear that all you need is a good crack of the hammer to prevent the RFID chip from ever working, thereby preventing the hack. That’s unless the RFID has already been sniffed and cloned while being mailed. In truth, its no better security than magnetic strips on credit cards (encrypted or not), except that being RFID requires no physical contact. Which makes me think that if you travel a lot, Paraben’s anti-RFID Passport StrongHold Holder could be just the security you need. Or you could make your own simple anti-RFID wallet using aluminum foil and duct tape.

Kami the Blinker vs. Kevin the Social Cyborg

Kami vs. Kevin

Spotted by my friend Leon Brown, now I know I’m not alone looking like a cybernetic mofo. Here’s a side by side comparison with a Japanese researcher on the left: We both use Logitech cameras, but to different ends.

According to The Register (Hardware), the left photo shows a prototype device aimed at replacing remote controls:

Kazuhiro Taniguchi, a researcher at the Osaka University Graduate School of Engineering Science, has invented a blink-operated switch called the Kome Kami Switch.

It’s mounted onto someone’s head and uses infrared sensors to monitor temple movements related to blinking, which in turn can be used to control a whole host of everyday gadgets, including TVs, air conditioners and lighting systems.

Building a lightweight eyetracking headgear

While it’s pretty neat, I still have no idea why Kazuhiro needs a pair of stereoscopic cameras, unless it’s to be folded inwards for eye tracking. If so, Alex Halavais pointed me to a much more practical eye tracker you could build yourself. The how-to PDF article is titled “Building a lightweight eyetracking headgear” (Babcock & Pelz, 2004).

My "DC mini": the Fujitsu u810My "DC mini": the Fujitsu u810

In related social cyborg news, I’ve gone from the Sony UX to the Fujitsu u810 as my wearable computer. I’m continuing the pursuit for a viable pragmatic connection between “meat space” and online networked realm. While the prospect of merging live video with location-awareness has been commercially achieved through Seero, as well as through Video+GPS hackers like AtlasRider, I’m quite excited by the use of cellphones to similar effect. As seen from OgleEarth, you can now combine and to let you live stream video from your mobile phone to the web while also showing your location in real time:

In a conversation with Howard Rheingold over twitter, he remarked that a problem with the adoption of lifecasting lies in how it is a highly cognitive activity. When compared with reporting your status via twitter, it is more complicated. If cellphones were to make the process simpler, then I believe more of us would be willing to give lifecasting a shot.

At this rate, I’d say that our cellphones are becoming the everyday HUD (Heads-Up Display) for navigating our increasingly complex lives.

Plurk & Zivity t-shirts in StartupSchwag 10

Plurk & Zivity T-shirts from StartupSchwag 10

As you can see, the Plurk t-shirt was the best schwag in this month’s StartupSchwag bag. Zivity’s not too bad, but it’d be better for a girl I think (it’s a crowdsourced modelling site).

You do have to fork out $14.95/month subscription for StartupSchwag’s mystery bag, but at least the comfy t-shirts are from American Apparel. While not all the startup stickers might be worth your while, you sometimes get keychains, caps, badges, and other goodies as well. Last month’s batch was a little dull, so thankfully they made up for it by throwing in TWO t-shirts this time. These geek t-shirts tend to run between $10 to $15 alone! :)

StartupSchwag pays homage to ValleySchwag, which I had a lot of heart for. Here are the kinds of schwag I’ve gotten back in the ValleySchwag days.

Wordle: Make beautiful textclouds…

Wordle - del.icio.usly kevin

Via Clay Shirky’s twitter, I had discovered the most beautiful textcloud generator I’ve ever played with. Straight from Wordle’s mouth…

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

To generate a textcloud of your own, simply paste a body of text, your blog’s RSS feed, or your delicious username (like mine shown above), and away you go. I’d say it’s a great way to spice up that presentation of yours, or even turn into a poster of t-shirt.

I wonder how else we could use this.

Harold Crick’s Comedy vs. Tragedy

Harold Crick's Comedy & Tragedy Scorebook

Reminder to self: Don’t forget to live your life.

theorycast.45 :: Mouse in the Air – The GyroTransport Pro

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Want a mouse that works in the air, like a Nintendo Wii controller?
Perhaps Gyration’s GyroTransport Pro is the answer.

Here’s a demo of the portable wireless air mouse working with XBMC Media Center for the Mac (now known as Plex). You’ll see that for a $130+ input device, it still needs some help working on a Mac…

I’ve yet to try it using third-party mouse drivers, like SteerMouse or ControllerMate (I mentioned USB OverDrive, but that’s way old), so let me know if anyone’s got preferences on which I should try. I’ll do a follow up in the comments.

Aside: The music sampled the video comes from The Lovemakers, the dance track being Whine & Dine.

Elaborating my Buffalo News quote: Google Maps Street View = Augmented Deja-Vu

Here are elaborations of my three different press mentions this past month…

Google 'Street View' brings the world to Buffalo's front doors : The Buffalo News (16th July 2008) The Buffalo News
Google ‘Street View’ brings the world to Buffalo’s front doors
by Steve Watson on 16th July 2008

The Buffalo News has a feature on privacy today. Steve Watson wrote about how Google’s street view feature has finally made its way to Buffalo. His article features a collection of quotes from residents like us where to some, it’s invasive, while to others, it’s a boon. You should know where I stand…

“For me, personally, it’s quite amazing. It solves an age-old problem: How do you get there, and how do you know what it looks like?” said Kevin Lim, a University at Buffalo doctoral student who writes about technology trends on a blog,”

I’d argue that the Street View experience almost feels visceral enough to be a form of augmented deja-vu, something that goes beyond visual memory, but one of simulated locatedness. For instance, the article mention my “Google Maps Street View” epiphany when I tried to see if a certain restaurant still existed on a visit to San Francisco.

Augmented Deja-vu: D&A Cafe (670 Broadway, SF)

If you zoom in enough, you can even make out the restaurant’s telephone number on the giant signage. Since I am able to pan around the neighborhood from a first person perspective, I get a sense of place that goes beyond flat 2D photography. When I eventually got there, the Street View experience was re-lived and completed, much like how would imagine finishing a jigsaw puzzle of a familiar picture.

In the past, I’ve written about how wearable video recording would serve as a form of memory prothesis. This Google Street View experience is rich, yet unique, in that the memory isn’t yours, but transplanted from someone else (e.g. Google drivers).

Ken Fujiuchi, Buffalo State College’s emerging technologies librarian, has used it while he looks for a new place to rent. He also shares my idea on privacy… that it’s too ambiguous to be disconcerting. The way I look at privacy, is to put it on the risk vs. rewards scale: Since the Street View feature is able to give me the confidence of reaching somewhere with more certainty, it overrides the concern for me. Besides, the images were taken in a public space, a space that is already physically shared by all.

Before anyone gets anymore antsy, we should perhaps take time to read Dr. Daniel Solove’s seminal book on Understanding Privacy (2008). I also found more privacy thoughts from the comments of Steve’s supplemental blog article, “Smile: You’re on Google Camera“.

If you’re interested, I also recently gave quotes to…

eLearn Magazine features my EduPunk story ACM’s eLearn Magazine
“Edupunk” Rocks the (Virtual) House
by Laurie Rowell on 8th July 2008

I gave a real-life example of how I ran my classes by having students take control of lessons and take responsibility for learning on their own. I rewarded students who could share the most, which is typically mediated through online spaces such as their blogs.

New York Press - Feeding Frenzy (Lifestreaming and FriendFeed) New York Press
Feeding Frenzy
by Gina Pace on 25th June 2008

Gina Pace’s wrote an exploratory article on “lifestreaming” which quotes from a number of avid users and developers, including Mark Krynsky of, Paul Buchheit of FriendFeed, John McCrea of Plaxo. I contributed my thoughts by citing the “Walled Garden” problem of popular social networking services, the practical side of lifestreaming via Leisa Reichelt “ambient intimacy” concept where I elaborated on the economics of attention.

Electronic communication has lowered the “cost” of finding out what’s going on with those you know, said Kevin Lim, a tech blogger who is a doctoral student in communications at the University of Buffalo in New York. Some will call very few people in their social network but are interested to find out what’s going on with a lot of people if it’s easy enough, he said.

Lim is especially interested by the idea that this type of intimate knowledge of the mundane can speed up the feeling of trust. Most people, Lim thinks, are literate enough online that they can sense when someone is a liar.

Inside the iPhone 3G

Inside the iPhone 3G

TechOnline did a chip-by-chip breakdown of what’s inside your iPhone 3G and revealed the manufacturers that won big with Apple. It’s quite technical, but it serves as a good primer into what goes into today’s smartphones.

More US students seek Asian experience (The Straits Times, 3rd July)

More US students seek Asian experience (The Straits Times, 3rd July 2008)
Click here for enlarged view. Source: The Straits Times, 3rd July

As a Singaporean studying in the States, it’s always interesting to see cultural exchanges like these. Admittedly, Singaporeans have it quite easy transitioning to U.S. culture, likewise for our American counterparts. All it takes is a little willingness to keep an open mind. Dr. Dunnett puts it quite succinctly…

“They can find their favorite junk foods. They meet students who wear the same kind of clothes, use the same iPods, even use the same Americanisms. It is not a culture shock that you might get, say, in China or Japan,” he said. “But, as the students soon discover, Singapore is very Asian below the surface, while being very comfortable.”

Stephen Dunnett, Vice Provost for International Education, is quoted in an article on the front page of Singapore’s Straits Times on the increasing number of American students who are studying in Singapore in order to get a better picture of the growth occurring on that continent.