Author Archive

Two laptops per me

September 7, 2007

Developing on from this, I’ve been playing working with a couple of Oxford Archaeolgy‘s XO units. One was DOA:

Dead OLPC

The fault being identified as a disconnected keyboard. Taking it apart revealed that the screen had been over rotated, pulling the keyboard cable out of the socket on the mainboard:

After it got more taken apart, then put back together, it worked:

Trowel for  scale. Cool stuff in the pipes.

Nouveau Neolithic

June 26, 2007

Via We Make Money Not Art

I’ve been think about design more than usual recently; most of it is still puzzling to me, despite Gary’s assertion that the plane that got us to Romania that time didn’t fall apart because it was designed.

Nouveau Neolithic is Ian Ferguson‘s view of the subject. Coming from a designer’s perspective, Ferguson designs solutions for post-apocalyptic gourmet eating. Design orientated experimental archaeology? Perhaps, although I don’t think I’m completely convinced. No doubt a flint specialist would disagree with the description of “two fist sized rocks”, not to mention that the included recipe requires the addition of chocolate.

I’m not sure if it helps me understand at all.

Sounds bring Google Earth to life

May 10, 2007

From the beeb:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6639977.stm

As well as homing in on visual feasts around the globe, users of Google Earth may soon be able to listen to the sounds that accompany them.

A Californian company has created software that can layer relevant recorded sounds over locations in Google Earth, New Scientist reports.

Wild Sanctuary has over 3,500 hours of soundscapes from all over the world.

The firm is in talks with Google, although no official agreement has yet been made.

Its director, Bernie Krause said: “A picture tells a thousand words, but a sound tells a thousand pictures.”

Dr Krause has spent the last 40 years collecting sounds, and his recordings include more than 15,000 animal noises, and sounds from a huge array of habitats, including cities, deserts, mountains and the marine environment.

It is the largest library in existence of natural sound, he said.

He said the idea would be to zoom-in on a particular area and then have the option to listen to the accompanying sound.

“It could be a real beneficial add-on,” he said.

The software is to be presented at the Where 2.0 conference in San Jose, California on 29 May.

Mr Krause said up to two dozen sounds would be show-cased at first, but many more would be added later.

If the project is successful, he would also like to use Google Earth show how sounds change with time.

He said: “People will be able to get a sense of before and after.

“For example, people are talking about how selective logging is an appropriate way of not harming the environment.

“But we have evidence that from the sound perspective, selective logging has a profound effect on the natural world. The pictures of before and after look exactly the same, but the sound is completely different.”

OpenXML vs ODF: Users may suffer, but probably won’t

April 20, 2007

A rather disappointing article by Martin Banks over on The Register: On the Office format wars:

http://www.regdeveloper.co.uk/2007/04/20/openxml-odf/

It’s all about users, we’re told; they (we) use Ms Word widely and aren’t going to want to use something different or incompatible. That’s no trouble, however, as Novell (as well as a number of companies in the future, so the prediction goes) has just released a tool to convert one open standard to the other. All of this neatly explains away the need for the article in the first place.

Neil Lewis, in the first of the comments:

http://www.regdeveloper.co.uk/2007/04/20/openxml-odf/comments/

Reminds us that open standards aren’t about vendor dominance and software lock-ins, but about creating material that can be widely disseminated now and still accessible in the future.

The point of this post? A reminder that some people (Banks) see issues of openness simply as a matter of a vendor’s software sales and are happy to treat the user as some sort of keyboard-drone, the office cubicle equivalent of the mechanically milked cow. Open formats shouldn’t be viewed simply as a sales vector or marketing push, quite the opposite in fact, they should be seen as a means of getting beyond these stifling considerations.

Push for open access to (scientific) research

March 2, 2007

From the BBC’s technology news site:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6404429.stm

Channel4.com reviews Wicken Wiki

February 26, 2007

“It makes fascinating, albeit often critical, reading.”

Channel4.com has been kind enough to list the Wicken Wiki on their website as further reading for the recently (yesterday) aired Time Team show. It was a good show and it’s nice to get mentioned on their site.

UK Open Source think tank opens doors

February 26, 2007

Lifted straight from The Register:

The UK now has its own national think tank for open source and open standard policy.

The National Open Centre, which its backers hope will make for better working relationships between the open source community and government, business, and education, launched today (Monday) at the Houses of Parliament.

The centre will carry out research and analysis and host conferences and workshops to facilitate the debate around open source and open standards. The results will ultimately be developed into policy recommendations.

Barbara Held, responsible for open source and open standards within the EU Commission’s IDABC programme, commented: “The work of the NOC will also contribute to coordinate and further the use of open source and open standards at the European level.”

She said such national focal points would be important in a pan-European push for “openness and interoperability”.

IBM and SCC also wheeled out spokespeople to pat the new venture on the back. IBM’s Dr Chris Francis said: “It is vital that current UK public and corporate OS&S policies deliver flexibility and efficiency for public and private organisations alike.”

Basing work on open standards, would be a major part of this, as would open source “wherever appropriate”.

SCC’s Brian Prangle, meanwhile, said he regarded open source and open standards as “second only to the development of the internet and web in terms of accelerating the evolution of information technology”.

He went on: “They are great drivers in disintegrating the bastions of proprietary technology which have kept IT expensive and slow to respond to change.” ®

Remediated life: Like life, only better

February 20, 2007

Two different approaches to recording your entire life:

bellGordon Bell (right) has gone digital with a system that he’s been using for the past nine years. Supposedly (or surprisingly) his methods require only 18 GB a year, or 1.1 TB for a 60 year stint. I guess he hasn’t bought a HD TV yet.

shields

Robert Shields (left) records everything that happens in his life on a typewriter. By 1994 his diary had reached 35 million words; that’s somewhere between three and six thousand words per day.

Of course, log on to Facebook for the first time and you’ll be surprised by the level of detail with which other people have been logging your life. Something like 85% of American students are registered on Facebook – a social networking site centred around photos of you and your friends (hence the face) – that’s not a figure enjoyed in Britain, but you can be safe in the knowledge that if you know a handful of university people, at least one of them will have put a picture of you online and will have tagged it accordingly.

Is anyone going to go trawl through these digital lives? Probably not, but throw in some RSS feeds, Yahoo!s pipes and some facial recognition software (that’s the bit we’ll have to wait for) and your life will be just a browser’s click away.

The Machine is Us/ing Us

February 20, 2007

Tom Goskar posted this on his blog last week and mentioned it again today on the Antiquist mailing list. It’s well worth watching for the four and a half minutes it lasts for:

Open access to research is in the public interest

February 13, 2007

Via Anthropology.net:

For those of us who have dedicated our lives to science, public access is a two-way street. We can more easily read other scientists’ works (which helps our research), and they can read ours (making it far more likely to be cited). Younger researchers, educated and raised in the networked digital environment, are used to moving seamlessly from info source to info source. The scientific research environment should respond to and favor this effective work style.

Original article here.