Archive for October 2009

Need Something to Help Waste your Time?

29 October 2009

Take any youtube video URL, for example, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiSWms6_SSk and substitute “warp.swf” for “watch” thus: http://www.youtube.com/warp.swf?v=xiSWms6_SSk and pop that puppy into your address bar to see a clever flash application take over.

Mouse over any button to form an new array of related videos displayed as buttons, each of which links to a youtube video. Click on a button to view the video.

Serendipity was never easier.

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Laws in the Digital World

28 October 2009

In the beginning there was one law: the Law of the Jungle. It was quite simple: “eat or get eaten”. About 3500 years ago Moses set down ten laws and ever since, laws have multiplied almost without number.

Go into any decent law library and you will wonder how it is possible for a modern American NOT to break any laws. In his new book “Three Felonies a Day,” Boston civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate estimates the average American now unwittingly commits three felony crimes every day. Digital technology has become so complex that lawmakers are unable to write laws that are simple enough for anyone to understand, even prosecutors and judges.

As confusing as that may sound, consider the following:

L. GORDON CROVITZ in the WSJ, You Commit Three Felonies a Day

In 2001, a man named Bradford Councilman was charged in Massachusetts with violating the wiretap laws. He worked at a company that offered an online book-listing service and also acted as an Internet service provider to book dealers. As an ISP, the company routinely intercepted and copied emails as part of the process of shuttling them through the Web to recipients.

The federal wiretap laws, Mr. Silverglate writes, were “written before the dawn of the Internet, often amended, not always clear, and frequently lagging behind the whipcrack speed of technological change.” Prosecutors chose to interpret the ISP role of momentarily copying messages as they made their way through the system as akin to impermissibly listening in on communications. The case went through several rounds of litigation, with no judge making the obvious point that this is how ISPs operate. After six years, a jury found Mr. Councilman not guilty.

Patent Law as well has yet to catch up to new technology. There are now idiots who are getting patents for bogus “technology” because those who grant these patents have no expertise in the fields they are reviewing. Consider patent number 7,113,911 issued September 26, 2006:

Voice communication concerning a local entity , Abstract

A local entity without its own means of voice communication is provided with the semblance of having a voice interaction capability. This is done by providing a beacon device at or near the entity, the beacon device transmitting, over a short-range communication link, contact data identifying a voice service associated with, but hosted separately from, the entity. The transmitted contact data is picked up by equipment carried by a nearby person and used to contact the voice service over a wireless network. The person then interacts with the voice service, the latter acting as a voice proxy for the local entity. The contact data can be presented to the user in other ways, for example, by being inscribed on the local entity for scanning or user input into the equipment.

Patent Sharks
Photo: Many Worlds

This is so vague and so general that it can describe any number of possibilities: a text to speech browser that lets you text a webpage into your phone and reads the page back to you; or a system where you call a service in India and they read back the text of a webpage, or you place a speaker next to a dog and a dog translator interprets what the dog wishes to say to you, and so on.

Nonsense like this has enabled patent sharks like the extortion patent holding company NTP which sued BlackBerry maker Research in Motion in 2006 for violation of their supposed NTP “patents” which RIM settled for over $600 million even though those “patents” were later declared invalid.

I almost feel like trying to patent the ‘e’ key on the keyboard. I believe I might actually get a patent for it. This way, every time someone types the letters eBay, they’ll have to pay me 25 cents. I leave the other letters to others, after all, I’m not a greedy person.

A Beautiful Woman and 3,000 Dollars

26 October 2009

BMW M3 AdAlthough this has happened to you many times before, you cannot stop watching it happen again.

An airplane lands; a beautiful woman approaches your new BMW M3 2-door Coupe; she opens the door, sits down, stares at you invitingly, opens her purse and fans 30 crisp 100 dollar bills.

You’ve got the go-ahead, and so you rev your engine to 8400 rpm. Highways, tunnels, buildings speed by as your comely passenger revs her internal motor in sync with the flashing lights.

Before she utterly faints, you’ve brought her back to the airport. She gets out making sure to drop her purse in gratitude on your seat.

Sadly, some of my readers may never have experienced this; for them I offer this video

Although not made by BMW – this is some ad.

Hat tip to Biertijd

The song in the background is Emiliana Torrini’s Gun

BMW “Living in the Lights”
Production: Bandito’s Garage
Creator/Director: Mouse McCoy
The Car: BMW M3
The Driver: Greg Tracy
The Girl: Niki Huey
Director of Photography: Vic Huber
Editor: Steve Prestemon
Producer: Sumer Friedrichs

Here is one of their press releases:

Reuters, BMW M3 Races Out of Bandito Garage

A new film by Mouse McCoy featuring the BMW M3 may do more than relate to the passion of car fans. If you’re an advertising agency or client in the automotive world, you may have dreamed of an extreme production environment, a one-stop shop that refines the process of producing industry-leading content for commercials, content footage, branded entertainment, and product placement by servicing all of these needs under one roof. As evidenced by a new BMW ad and print campaign created on spec, this dream has become a reality in the form of the Bandito Garage, a cost-effective, seamlessly-integrated approach to car content and positioning.

Overseen by a pit crew of seasoned Automotive and Production professionals, the Bandito Garage has rolled open its doors in Culver City, under the auspices of full-service media company Bandito Brothers. “Clients are more conscious of the money they spend on advertising – you now have cross-brand shooting at once, and it’s hard to define a means of executing it,” said Sumer Friedrichs, formerly of Campbell-Ewald, now the Garage’s Detroit-based Producer. “As tier one and two advertisers struggle to assemble the spots they need, our model offers a perfect solution. As a producer, I sought a combination of excellence and flexibility.

All elements may not be running on a simultaneous calendar but need to connect. We mold the production as needed, with top-of-the-line talent handling everything.”

Cellphones like Keys on a Piano

24 October 2009

Thomas Ricker over at Engadget was impressed to hear Vodafone NZ’s Symphonia playing on 1000 cellphones to reconstruct Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture. Click here if you cannot see the following video:

To see how it was done view videos part1 and part2.

Interestingly, this is quite similar to Dialtones, a telesymphony presented at the Ars Electronica Festival in September 2001, and at the Swiss National Exposition in May and June of 2002 where the concert performance was produced through the choreographed ringing of the audience’s own mobile phones.

On a smaller scale I suppose one could easily have a group of friends program their cellphones to each display one word each but spelling out “Will” “You” “Marry” “Me?” at a restaurant or some other venue.

Microsoft Windows 7 Upgrade from XP Without Buying the Full Version

23 October 2009

Windows 7Caveat: before you follow any advice in this article make sure you first run Windows Upgrade Advisor to determine if your PC can run Windows 7 and always backup your data whenever installing or upgrading to anything.

Microsoft says you can upgrade to Windows 7 from Windows XP and Vista; however what they mean by upgrade is very confusing. If you think upgrade means taking an Microsoft Windows 7 Upgrade and laying it on top of an existing XP system – it cannot be done. That only applies to Vista; in the case of XP what Microsoft means by upgrade is buying a full version of Windows 7 and doing a clean install which is not really an upgrade but a new install.

I got my copy of Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade from Amazon for $219.99 instead of the full version because I believed what they wrote:

Not sure if you need the upgrade version or the full version? You can purchase the Upgrade version of Windows 7 if you’re currently running Windows Vista or Windows XP on your PC. If you’re not running Windows XP or Windows Vista on your PC, you’ll need to purchase the Full version of Windows 7.

But when I tried to “upgrade” my Windows XP version to Windows 7
A Microsoft Customer Service rep informed me that I could only “upgrade” from XP by buying the “full” version.

Instead of returning the upgrade disc and buying the full version disc, I did the following:

  1. I backed up my data onto a removable hard drive although Microsoft does supply a program called Easy Transfer that you must install before running Windows 7 to help migrate your files.
  2. I booted from the Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade disc.
  3. I formatted my hard drive.
  4. I followed the install prompts.
  5. When asked for the product key, I pressed NEXT without entering the key.
  6. Windows finished installing.
  7. I removed the disc from my DVD tray and rebooted.
  8. Once Windows 7 came back up, I re-inserted the disc and hit the UPGRADE option (not the CUSTOM option).
  9. Windows will start the install – ask for the key – this time put it in. And it will reboot a number of times (don’t let it bother you) until it finishes the install
  10. You’re done.

Remarkably, nowhere in the process did it ask me for my original XP product key. Usually if I am upgrading software I am asked for the underlying base product key. This means: even if you never purchased XP or Vista at all, instead of laying out $100 more for the full install, simply buy the upgrade version and follow this procedure. Until Microsoft fixes this great feature.

Related articles: Tom’s Hardware – Windows XP Can Upgrade to Windows 7, Sorta, Excerpt: Microsoft
has said that it will offer upgrade options for users to move from Windows XP to Windows 7, but to be clear, those are only for purchasing software licenses. There will be no software upgrade path.

Tech Mirage – Microsoft Plans to Offer Windows 7 on USB Flash Drives, Excerpt: Looking at the heavy increase in the netbook sales, Microsoft has admitted to CNET, that they will offer the brand new OS on USB Flash drives.

Photo credit: The Boy Genius Report

The Viral Marketing Behind Blackra1n

20 October 2009
Apple App Store
Photo: Wiki

One of the problems with Apple’s App Store is that it doesn’t have every application that users desire. Third party software writers have come to the rescue with “jailbreaks” – software that allows iPhone or iPod Touch users to download non-Apple-sanctioned apps.

If you are a dedicated iP-something user then this is not news to you. What is interesting is the method that one jailbreaker used to viral his software.

George Holtz released his latest jailbreaking application, “Blackra1n,” on 11 Oct 2009 by asking thousands of the readers of his blog On The iPhone to tweet the subject “#blackra1n” and if he saw it trending on Twitter, he would post the download link up on blackra1n.com.

Three things accomplished:

  1. iPhone Touch users unfamiliar with Holtz’ blog who happen to pay attention to Twitter trends will google “blackra1n” (the unusual spelling guarantees that blackra1n.com will show up on top) and come upon the application. This brings more users to the site than simply announcing it on his website.
  2. The download is free but there’s a Donate link. A certain percentage of Apple users will want George to continue to supply jailbreaks.
  3. His own readers become referrers to a greater degree than otherwise.

Great move George, and thanks for the jailbreak.