News Links 3-15-10

Lip-Reading Mobile Phone Promises to End Noisy Calls [BBC News]
The technology measures the electrical signals produced by muscles when someone speaks. Would presumably be good for a dumb person to communicate as well.
Report: 98.9% Of Downloads On The Android Market Are Free [The Next Web]
An estimated eight million Android users downloaded 289 million apps, of which 98.9% were free to download. Wow, looks like an app market developers would be anxious to get into </sarcasm>

Peter Graves dead at 83 – RIP [Real TV Addict]
I have many, many fond memories of Mission Impossible and Mr. Graves’ character and the plethora of spoofs his character helped architect was key to many of those memories. Here’s a nice 2+ minute series intro to the MI team’s escapades.

World’s Most Precise Clock Created

I’ve always had a fascination with Time. I enjoy reading and hearing about advancements in Time tracking technologies over the centuries. So this article from New Scientist piqued my interest:

The new record-holder for the most precise timekeeper could tick off the 13.7-billion-year age of the universe to within 4 seconds.

If you want the technical details you can find it in this paper (PDF) from Cornell’s Quantum Physics section of their library.

What I want to know is whether entropy will set in across the universe within 13 billion years and if so, will the clock maintain its accuracy as it count backwards? 🙂

IP protectionism gone wrong?

the guys over at TechDirt have pointed out an issue where a comedian was required to re-tape a joke due to Comedy Central not having the licensing for the song “We Are The World”.
The issue here is not really a matter of copyright, but IP protectionism gone wrong.
There is a clear case of fair use under parody with this and such issues have previously been held by the Supreme Court as a first amendment issue when the parody has been intended as a criticism as was the case in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music.

Now, to be fair, in that case the criticism was of the original work. But looking at the specifics of that case, the court deemed that the work was transformative which using a song in a joke would certainly be, provided social benefit by making use of the earlier work which this appears to do as well as the effect upon the the potential market of the original work which in this case I can only imagine would be nil.
The remaining factor is the amount of the original work used in the transformative work. In this case, its four words sung by a comedian… not a singer doing a cover of the song, just singing the four words and that’s it.
The Supreme Court sent that issue back to a trial court to determine if the use of the original work was excessive, but I have to believe that a non-singer using four words to frame a joke about the overuse of the word love with no music from that song to accompany him certainly would not fall under excessive.

My own personal viewpoint is that Comedy Central’s parent company Viacom is in a rather no win situation on this type of issue. If they stand by the fair use principal that opens them up to others claiming fair use on IP that they own the rights to undermining any future attempts to maximize control and the ability to monetize the works they own the rights to. It would be good if they could see the unreasonableness of taking such action, but I doubt they will.

IE continues its slide while Safari stumbles a bit too

Its become fairly commonplace to see Internet Explorer taking yet another small step towards a smaller market share with its browser. While it is still the predominant browser being used out there, the competition in that area is has heated up a bit more with Google’s Chrome Browser who has reciently taken over third place from Safari.
As pointed out by our friends at Endgaget, taking a deeper look at the numbers can reveal some interesting information.

  • Google Chrome made the largest gains while most others stayed flat
  • IE6 remains the top browser by version.
  • By version split, Firefox 3.5 is only about 6% lower than IE 6 or 8.
  • No one really uses the built in browser on the PS3 (so much for convergence in that arena)

Its no surprise to anyone really that the browser which comes packaged with the operating system that has the largest market share would also have the highest share, but this is sure to be good news to Google with its upcoming launch of the G1, rumors of a Google tablet surfacing and the attention Android is getting from everyone.

SF-Fantasy-Mystery-Pulp-Spoof Twitter Novel

Harald Havas alerted me to a novel he’s writing and posting via Twitter. It’s what he claims is the first Twitter-SF-Fantasy-Mystery-Pulp-Spoof-novel.

Here’s the beginning of the tweets that he started last Spring, you can quickly get caught up to the tweets by starting at his web sit listed below:

Hans-Dieter was quite tall for a Znork. But the road through the Paloopah Swamps was arduous even for him. Silently he cursed the two-faced Twin-Znark. Just because his hoofs could cover the distance to Hot Patootie some Milli-Zeks quicker, the Chieftain always sent him. Though Anke, the female part of the Twin-Znark, tried time and again to help Hans-Dieter, Jochen her Second-Face always remained adamant. Squotch. Just some Micro-Zeks of self-pity and here we go, Hans-Dieter thought angrily to himself. His left hoof was stuck in a puddle of sweet, amber-colored Paloopah-goo.

You can find his stuff here:
www.twitter.com/wrz_the_wise
www.wrzthewise.wordpress.com
and (German)
www.twitter.com/wrz_der_weise
www.wrzderweise.wordpress.com

The Human Computer Interface of the Future for People w/ More Than Two Fingers

Good insight here from gizmag on why touch is and is NOT a good replacement for the mouse/KB:

Using a traditionally-placed desktop screen as a touch interface, even for short periods, places too much strain on a user’s arm. Touchscreens used in a drafting table configuration lessen the strain on the arms, but increase the chances of neck strain, as users are forced to look down at the display. And in either setup there is also the problem of the user’s hands obstructing the display. Miller’s 10/GUI overcomes these problems by splitting the touch surface from the screen, and using a touch surface similar to a drawing tablet that is large enough to accommodate all ten fingers.

10/GUI from C. Miller on Vimeo.

Is There A Connection Between Albatrosses and Killer Whales?

Albatross

Graduate students attached still-image cameras to Albatrosses (a vulnerable group of seabirds) in the Arctic to monitor their habits as they travel hundreds of kilometers per day foraging. Retrieving and sifting through thousands of images leads us to believe there is a connection between these birds and Killer Whales of all things.

This is an interesting study, the results are not earth shattering by any stretch but I enjoy reading research articles from fields of study I’m not versed in yet are still readable.

Dyson Launches The Bladeless Electric Fan

 Dyson Fan

Who would have thought that after 125 years lacking in innovation for the electric fan that we’d one day have a bladeless fan to keep us cool? From the same folks that brought us the bagless vacuum cleaner we now have a safer, and dare I say, “cooler” fan.

Financial Times is reporting on the $300 device now launching:

The new fan works by drawing air into the base of the machine. The air is forced up into the loop amplifier and accelerated through the 1.3mm annular aperture, creating a jet of air that hugs the airfoil-shaped ramp. While exiting the loop amplifier, the jet pulls air from behind the fan into the airflow (inducement). At the same time, the surrounding air from the front and sides of the machine are forced into the air stream (entrainment), amplifying it 15 times. The result is a constant uninterrupted flow of cooling air.

Get Your Own UAV w/ 10Mega Pixel Camera

This has been out for most of the year so as far as news is considered it’s a old, but this little gadget from Lehmann Aviation is still very cool.
 
Have you ever wanted a birds eye view of your neighborhood without having to rent a plane, or wanted a more up to date set of those local aerial pics than what’s on the Google and Bing Maps? For just 13-19,000 Euros ($19-28k), you can have your own UAV system with a 10 Mega Pixel camera.
 
The battery life allows for a 40 minute flight time so you should be more than able to fully inspect a pretty large territory. It can be manually operated or programmed for GPS-based navigation.
 
You can find more on this at Engadget Español, or you can get it translated to English.