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Tom Keating
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Technology and Science

Technology and Science

Furby scares me

September 13, 2005

Sensory sent me an email about their RSC-4128 IC which is the heart of one of the best selling toys of all time, Hasbro's new Furby creature. Their chip controls all of the creature's motor, speech and hearing function and can do things that are really scary. The damn thing can recognize your voice and respond accordingly. It's even speaker independent and male/female agnostic.

Fix Old Extensions to Work in Firefox 1.5

September 12, 2005

A friend of mine told me he recently installed Firefox 1.5 beta 1. He told me about a problem he was having with one of his favorite Firefox extensions / plugins, namely Paste and Go, which wouldn't work with the new Firefox 1.5 beta 1. It was such an important extension that he actually uninstalled Firefox 1.5 beta 1 and went back to an older version. Thus, many of our "must have" extensions don't yet work on Firefox 1.5 beta 1.

Liquid Metal technology

September 7, 2005

Liquid metal is no longer relegated to science fiction movies such as Terminator 2 with the T-1000 liquid metal terminator..Socket Communications, an innovative provider of mobile productivity products, and Liquidmetal Technologies announced an exclusive three-year agreement to develop and manufacture a line of ruggedized portable data collection products featuring the revolutionary Liquidmetal alloys.

"Liquidmetal alloys are over twice the strength of titanium, have ten-times better fabrication tolerances than standard molded plastic parts, can be designed for environmental sealing, and have a high material hardness rating, which translates to a product line being extremely durable and scratch resistant," said Kevin Mills, president and CEO at Socket Communications. "This exclusive relationship for data collection products enables Socket to create rugged, small, and light devices that not only address existing markets, but new opportunities in the wearable data collection area. We're very excited about the use of Liquidmetal in broadening our data collection products going forward."

Liquidmetal Technologies Chairman & CEO John Kang adds, "We are pleased that Socket Communications has chosen Liquidmetal to develop a line of ruggedized portable data collection devices. We believe the strength and the durability of Liquidmetal alloys truly add value to this line of products and will enhance Socket's customer's productivity in more ruggedized environments."

Ok, so maybe this liquid metal doesn't reform shapes like the T-1000, assume human personas, and have active intelligence, but hey we're one step closer to a war with the machines.

Socket’s CF RFID Reader-Scan Card Series 6

September 6, 2005

Socket Communications today announced the release of the CompactFlash (CF) RFID Reader-Scan Card Series 6. An industry first, the scanner combines RFID and barcode scanning technology in a single device to provide for data collection implementations requiring both technologies. Of course, there are those conspirists that claim RFIDs are the "mark of the beast".

In any event, St. Clair Hospital implemented a pilot of the dual function scanner which they claim has further improved the effectiveness of its 5-Rights Medication Verification solution, helping the organization increase staff productivity and save lives.

The 5-Rights Medication Verification solution at St.Clair uses Wi-Fi enabled wireless Pocket PCs along with the CF RFID Reader-Scan Card Series 6, ensuring the right patient is receiving the right medication and dose via the right route of administration at the right time. The nursing staff at St.Clair are scanning the patients quickly and easily via RFID while continuing to use the more cost effective barcode scanning for medication verification.

UCONN, I used to know you

August 25, 2005

Came across some interesting news from my alma mater, the University of Connecticut on, that will basketball season just around the corner it seemed appropriate.

It reads:

University of Connecticut students preparing for the fall semester are
learning one thing fast: keeping in touch with friends and family back
home during the school year just keeps getting better on America's most
reliable wireless network. Verizon Wireless recently installed a new
cell site to increase coverage and capacity on the UCONN campus along
Route 195 and North Eagleville Road... Students can browse content from Get It Now(R) and V CAST -- the
nation's first wireless broadband multimedia service for consumers that
allows them to view high-quality video clips from major news, sports
and entertainment outlets, play 3D games and download rich multimedia

Coaxsys and ConFocus to offer TVNet (Ethernet-over-Coax)

August 24, 2005

Coaxsys, Inc., makers of multimedia-over-coax solutions, will announce tomorrow that it has reached an agreement with ConFocus Technologies, Inc., to provide set-top box reference designs with integrated TVnet. TVnet, the standard for Ethernet-over-Coax, is already deployed by more than fifty Telcos, cable operators, and service providers to deliver IPTV and in-home multimedia networking. TVnet has, to date, been available in adapter form; this announcement marks the first publicly announced set-top box (STB) client integrations.

Atlanta-based ConFocus specializes in STB software products and services and has produced set-top client software and custom drivers for leading manufacturers and chip providers.

ConFocus’ FocusWare client with TVnet enabled reference software will make it easy for market-leading set-top box manufacturers to incorporate Coaxsys’ new OEM TVnet components into their set-top boxes. The first-of-its-kind agreement between the two companies is a leap forward in the IPTV and in-home IP networking arenas.

Bluetooth Headsets Everywhere

August 22, 2005

Bluetooth headsets have reached critical mass - or at least I think so. Let me give you an example of why I think Bluetooth headsets, specifically the one-ear piece Bluetooth headsets are a fast growing technology. Last week, I was in 3 different airports and I couldn't believe how many people I saw walking in each of these airports with their Bluetooth headsets on their ears. Further, as far as I could tell, these Bluetooth headset wearers weren't even on a phone call.

Sirius Censorship

August 16, 2005

Sirius Satellite Radio is now censoring their broadcasts? Who would have thought that Sirius, which made a name for itself by signing the controversial Howard Stern to its radio line-up (after the FCC fined Howard and forced him to go to satellite radio) would decide to censor its broadcasts?

Well, if my tip is correct, this is indeed the case. According to my source, he is a daily listener of Alt-Nation Sirius 21 and all of a sudden swear words, vulgarity, etc. was "bleeped out".

WiMAX Meet DirecTV

August 10, 2005

Wow, just came across this blog post "DIRECTV EYEING WIMAX FOR BROADBAND RETURN PATH CONTENT FROM SUBSCRIBERS" on Russell Shaw's Streaming Media blog where Russell states that satellite carriers are looking into using WiMAX instead of dial-up for the "return path".

As you may or may not know, broadband Internet satellite requires a phone line for transmitting where you're going on the Internet. Typically it's a slow dial-up connection that transmits which URLs (upstream/return-path) you are trying to get to, and then the satellite "beams" (downstream) the web page you wish to view.

But this got me wondering... If you can use WiMAX for the "upstream" bandwidth, why not just use WiMAX for the downstream as well? WiMAX providers could "cut" the satellite providers "in the middle" and take the revenue for themselves.

Rotani Solves WiFi Interference

August 10, 2005

Rotani claims to have solved the issue of WiFi interference, thus allowing for better performance for gaming, video streaming, and VoIP applications. In fact, they told TMC, "AirReferee is a turnkey access point reference design, providing the uninterrupted throughput needed for multiple video streams, online gaming, VoIP and other latency and throughput-sensitive applications"

According to Rotani, "There are emerging products/technologies that address the problem of throughput and maximize the speed from the Access Point to a Client. In pristine wireless networking environments they perform well. However, when faced with interference (noise) from other WiFi networks or other devices (a more realistic situation) the performance drops dramatically."

Their AirReferee technology solves inference, making wireless networks scalable.

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