Archive for the ‘Tech(ing)’ Category

Remixing Catalhoyuk Day 28 November 2007

November 25, 2007

Remixing Catalhoyuk Day
9am to 5.30 pm Pacific Standard Time (GMT-8)
November 28, 2007
Location: Okapi Island in Second Life
(You must have the free Second Life browser)

What is Second Life?
Second Life is a 3-D virtual world created entirely by its residents. Okapi Island is owned and build by the OKAPI team (that’s us below!) and the Berkeley Archaeologists at Catalhoyuk.

Getting Started
To visit Okapi Island, you will need to create a user account and download the client software–both free.
To create an account, visit, click on Join (in the upper right corner) and follow the instructions. Note: You do not need a premium account to use Second Life or visit Okapi Island.
Next, download and install the Second Life client for your computer:
Join us for Remixing Catalhoyuk Day, a public program sponsored by OKAPI and the Berkeley Archaeologists at Catalhoyuk.

Visit OKAPI Island in the 3-D virtual environment of Second Life (see Getting Started below) and explore the past and present of Catalhoyuk, a 9000-year-old village located in present-day Turkey. OKAPI Island features virtual reconstructions of the excavation site and multimedia exhibits of research data. The Island was constructed by a team of undegraduate research apprentices during the Spring and Fall 2007 semester. The Remixing Catalhoyuk program includes lectures, guided tours, games, and much more. Mark your calendars!

Remixing Çatalhöyük Day Activities
(10-10:30 AM, 3-3:30 PM PST)
Guided Tours of OKAPI Island. Tours will be conducted by Ruth Tringham (Professor of Anthropology, UC Berkeley, and Principal Investigator of Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük) and the Remixing Çatalhöyük team.

(1 – 2 PM PST)
Lecture: “Cultural Heritage Interpretive Videowalks: Moving Through Present Past Places Physically and Virtually” Presented by Ruth Tringham to the UC Berkeley Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Colloquium and simulcast in Second Life.

(2 – 4 PM PST)
Turkish Music Mix. Visit OKAPI Island, learn about Çatalhöyük and build your own remixes in the OKAPI Island Sandbox while listening to DJ (and UCB Anthro grad) Burcu’s eclectic mix of classical and contemporary Turkish music.

(4-5 PM PST)
Remixing Çatalhöyük Video Festival. Nine video producers will share videos about Çatalhöyük. The Video Festival will be hosted by VJ (and UCB Anthro grad) Colleen Morgan.

(5 – 5:30 PM PST)
Remix Competition. The public is invited to use the OKAPI Island Sandbox or Graffiti Cube to build and share reconstructions of Catalhoyuk or “remixes” of archaeological research data. At 5pm PST, the Berkeley Archaeologists at Catalhoyuk team will review and select top entries for virtual awards and exhibition on OKAPI Island.

See you there!

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:


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.

Remediating steganography

February 15, 2007

Here is an interesting example of remediating the ancient practice of steganography using mobile phones:

Hiding messages in plain sight

Japanese firm Fujitsu is pushing a technology that can encode data into a picture that is invisible to the human eye but can be decoded by a mobile phone with a camera.

The technique stems from a 2,500-year-old practice called steganography, which saw the Greeks sending warnings of attacks on wooden tablets and then covering them in wax and tattooing messages on shaved heads that were then covered by the regrowth of hair.

Now there must be some archaeological applications for this particularly for advertising and dissemination!

One laptop per archaeologist

January 29, 2007

Transparency is empowering

Imagine if these things were on sale to the general public; archaeological fieldwork could be changed forever. Recording, interpreting, communicating; all those traditional elements of an archaeological excavation could be combined into a single act of doing archaeology.

The child proof, environment surviving hardware is already there, as is the mesh networking. All it needs is some more suitable tools installed and a database server in a site hut.

Imagine taking a photograph of a section, putting it on your laptop, annotating it the stylus, dynamically linking it to context sheet you just typed out, georeferencing it, then saving it directly to the site archive. A paper free excavation.

But why am I sat here typing it for who-knows-who on the internet? I should be selling my ideas to some commercial archaeology unit! Well yes, I should be, but it wouldn’t get me very far as I can’t buy a OLPC, even if it was to subsidise others getting sent abroad. Besides, keeping the idea for myself wouldn’t be particularly Open Access of me. Anyway, if there is a big-paying Unit reading this, don’t worry, I’ve still got plenty of ideas you can splash out on!

Even though I can’t buy one, the price of these laptops do lend themselves to contract archaeology. They cost governments $100 each and after that nothing more.  All the software on these machines is linux based, including the BIOS. The OLPC group turned down Steve Jobs’ offer of free OSX licenses because they wanted something Open Source, whilst Microsoft are rumoured to be worried about the device and are working hard to get a copy of XP running on them. I won’t provide any links, but it’s all on Slashdot, and when was the last time that Slashdot ever sensationalised anything?

The archaeological tools of the future? A mattock, a digital camera and a laptop. What more could you need?

OLPCOLPC interface

Click to enlarge.

The convergent device for me

January 28, 2007

So, I was quite interested when Apple’s iPhone was announced; I thought this was going to be the do-it-all device for me. Update my wiki trenchside with a laptop? Not any more, that touch screen beauty would be all I needed. Unfortunately I heard some more details and quickly lost interest: No 3G, no third party apps (or, at least no homebrew apps), a years wait and a bank crippling contract to take out.

Joseph Barrow Laptop

Imagine the scene, I’m trying to update something over the painfully slow GPRS connection when I decide that I need to SSH into my server to do something else. Of course the iPhone can’t do this, so it’s out with the laptop and a bluetooth link to my mobile phone, suddenly I’m running at 3G rates, with a whole host of software. The choices? Either use my laptop all the time, or find a slightly more useful hand-held device.

That device has been out for quite some time now in the form of Nokia’s 770. This wonderful little gadget has recently been updated with the release of the N800. Yes, one of these devices would require me to keep my phone in my pocket, so it’s not truely the do-it-all device, but it’s close enough and my phone is always in my pocket anyway. With the release of the N800, ebay should be filling up with cheap 770s, so I gave Google a quick going over to find a 770/N800 comparison. Whilst in the process I found the 10 ways the Nokia N800 is better than Apple’s iPhone. I suppose I better get saving.

HD software patents

January 27, 2007

Good and bad news from the world of patents that could have implications for Pastxting:

Sony’s video metadata could be patentable in part. The good news – this software patent has been refused. The bad news – Sony is just going to rewrite the application and try again. Steve: Have you run in to this at all with your new camera?

Jury rules that H.264 is not patentable. The good news as reported by Dr Kool, PhD: “This ruling clears the way for H.264 to become a widely adopted open standard.” Lots of good comments in the discussion.

Hacking the Himalayas

January 12, 2007

Of possible relevance to anything to be done on Scilly is the Hacking the Himalayas series by Xeni Jardin and aired on the US’ National Public Radio. Their site allows you to listen to all four of the series’ shows online.

Getting online for was tough, and that was all taking place in a backgarden in Northamptonshire; we relied upon sporadic 3G and WiFi connections. In remote areas, more reliable, creative, connections will need to be established: More bandwidth, less latency.

Whilst the Hacking the Himalayas may not be directly analogous (to what, I don’t even know yet), it’s an example at least of networking ideas as well as technology. As a side note, I’ve set up a Wireless Distribution System at home based on the fantastic OpenWrt.