Category Archives: Quick Posts

Space Money Invented

I checked Snopes in case this is a hoax, and they don’t have anything about this yet, but apparently currency dealer Travelex has developed cash money designed to be used in space.

From the Travelex site:

The QUID has been designed to withstand the stresses of space travel and the extreme environment found in orbit around the Earth. It has also been created so that it can be purchased on earth in any one of the 176 currencies used around the globe.

Professor George Fraser from the University of Leicester commented: “None of the existing payment systems we use on earth – like cash, credit or debit cards – could be used in space for a variety of different reasons. Anything with sharp edges, like coins, would be a risk to astronauts while the chips and magnetic strips used in our cards on Earth would be damaged beyond repair by cosmic radiation. What’s more, because of the distances involved, it is more than 230,000 miles from the Earth to the moon, chip and pin technology is also out of the question.”

Prison Industrial Complex

For a number of years I’ve been interested in prison systems, particularly the current counter-productive nature of the US system. So, I was really interested to hear this week’s Tech Nation on IT Conversations, which is a discussion with Sasha Abamsky about the state of prisons in the US, the history of the penal system and some of the things going on today that curdle my blood.

Whether you know anything about the state of the penal system or not, this is important information. The more you learn about the prison industry, the more you understand some of the surprising causes of the increased prison population.

Give this show a listen here.

Such a Wiinie

WiiI somehow magically got a Wii for my birthday, and have been meaning to post about it. Lots has been said about it, but there are two main points I think are worth mentioning.

  1. It’s the first game system I’ve ever used that really is good enough out of the box.

    I’d really like to get a hold of another set of controls for 2 player boxing, and Wii Play looks pretty decent, but I’ve been using the thing almost daily for over a month, and it’s still fun. We rented a shoot-em-up game for an evening, which was okay, but I still have no compelling desire to get a new game. This, of course, isn’t great news for the game companies, but as a consumer I’m thrilled with the replay ability of the included Wii Sports.

  2. It’s incredible to watch someone who’s new to games play with this thing.

    A friend of mine isn’t much of a gamer, but she is an amateur softball player. She came over and I handed her the control and turned on the baseball game. She asked me how to play and I said “just play baseball.” She was confused for a while, and eventually swung the bat. You’d think I’d just stuck her in a time machine or something, she was so amazed at the technology.

    Those of us who follow tech advances think that waving a controller around to play a game is almost old hat by now, but watching someone play a video game that way for the first time is totally eye opening.

  3. All in all, the Wii has totally exceeded my expectations and it’s still as fun as it was the day I got it. Now that’s return on investment.

Apple iPhone

iPhone image - Courtesy of AppleI know everyone and her dog will be talking about this, but I have to admit that it’s the first announcement Apple has made that actually excites me. The iPhone is an entirely new design, with a wide touchscreen as opposed to buttons. It’s a phone, iPod and tiny computer that runs a version of OS X. It has wifi and bluetooth and is a quad band GSM phone on the Cingular network.

I’m not that interested in phones, and this is about as converged a device as you can get, but I’ll honestly think about ponying up the $599 USD (8GB, $499 4GB) for it as a pocket computer if the following functions exist on this device:

  • it can be unlocked and used on different GSM carriers worldwide
  • the non-phone functions (wifi, iPod, browser, email) still work even if there’s no phone functionality – no SIM card, no contract, nothing

Ideally, I’d want one without the phone part. But, even if it’s not for me, it’s a surprisingly cool device. Heck, I’ve been wanting the combination of iPod and wifi for years now.

DO NOT Upgrade to myPodder 1.6.3

If you’re on a Mac (I can’t speak to the Windows version) DO NOT upgrade to the new version of myPodder. It downloads podcasts to a directory that is within the application package (full explanation below for those who are interested). This means it’s very hard to get at your podcast files and any automated system will fail.

Explanation: Mac applications are really special directories called packages. When you doubleclick on an application’s icon, you run the application, but you can also open it (try command-clicking and choosing “Show Package Contents”). Inside it’s just a folder with other folder and files inside. The new version of myPodder is downloading podcasts to a folder inside the application package as opposed to the Podcasts folder. Not good.

Stick with the previous version for now. And yes, I’ve posted this bug to their very under-used forum.

UPDATE: It has been fixed and the upgrade works now.

stikkit – a very cool web app

I don’t often post links to products, but I’ve just started using stikkit and it’s very very cool. It’s built using Ruby on Rails and has all the nice flashy ajax things we’ve come to love about modern web apps – text fades on and off the page, the page doesn’t reload to show changes – the usual. But what’s great about stikkit is it’s fake AI.

stikkit is basically a stickies app that “knows” if you’re typing contact information, a to do list or a calendar item, and automagically categorizes those types of entries accordingly. You can also tag and share, those functions that seem to be de rigeur in anything labeled tagged Web 2.0.

On the homepage, you can click to a screencast of stikkit in action, and it does actually have to be seen to be understood. It’s a free beta now, and I found it on happycodr.