A technology blog for The Economist Group IT team

Friday, June 18, 2004

Everybody's goin' surfin'

Have you ever been out catching some waves on a surfboard and thought
"If only I could browse the web right now"

No ? I thought not.
This will come in handy when I am washed out by a gnarly wave in North Devon. I imagine I will remember to launch a web browser to communicate for help while I am being eaten by a shark.
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Monday, June 14, 2004

And you thought it was just a wireless router...

I read a really interesting aricle last week by Robert X. Cringley about wireless routers, specifically the Linksys WRT54G which is one of the market leading SoHo broadband wireless router/firewall boxes. It's firmware is written in Linux and is completely Open Source. Some Linux programmers with probably far too much time on their hands have written new firmware for it which, if you install, effectively a Wireless ISP-in-a-box supporting traffic shaping and VoIP.

There is also a followup article where he talks about a guy who is setting up a wireless ISP in his neighbourhood of San Francisco (it would be, wouldn't it), after being inspired by the article above.
So, San Fran is by the sea and so is....Portsmouth. How about Pompi-Fi?
Has anyone in the group got one of these? Do they work with the Cisco VPN client?
I endured the hardships of having the Linksys router with no built-in ADSL modem for quite some time. But eventually learned to live with the blue monster. Several hardware and firmware versions later Linksys have got it right and now sell a unit with SpeedBoost technology here: http://www.linksys.com/products/product.asp?grid=33&scid=35&prid=610

The unit absolutely positively works with the Cisco VPN client as I use it almost everyday.
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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Bug update

Now I'm sure that there are other radios that do this, but with the Bug you can set up two alarms a day (one for you and one for whoever else might be in bed with you) plus different alarms for weekdays and weekends. Fantastic! I can now wake up to Xfm (would have been Liquid if Virgin hadn't pulled it) with Becky waking up to Classic FM (although if my alarm is first, she won't need Classic FM to wake up!).
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Bigger Brother

Two items caught my eye this weekend in The Observer. BT plans to block access to child porn sites and manufacturers of scanners are to implement changes to software to prevent copying of banknotes.

A pattern of tiny circles appear on the banknotes of 27 currencies (including sterling, the US dollar, the Swiss franc and the Euro).

The implication is interesting. As computing power increases personal freedom is reduced. If I could quantify it I could have the next Moore's law.

I remember early versions of products which restricted access to websites based on content; they slowed down access and had so many anomolies (although it's unlikely that the tourism industry in Scunthorpe suffered too much)that they were nearly unusable. Historically, too, firewall rulesets needed to be kept very simple so that throughput was not degraded. As this kind of pattern recognition capability comes within reach of consumer applications because of increases in computing power what's next? My vote goes to software in video/DVD players that recognises adverts so they can be skipped.

Now to that image of a £20 note. If you can't see the image highlighting where the circles appear, the it's probably because my PC is off or I don't have Hello running. Hello (don't read any further if you're in the Global Infrastructure team) is a kind of cross between Napster and IM for images except the images look like they're actually stored centrally with information about who's viewing them being sent back to the client machine.
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Friday, June 04, 2004

EcoBlogIT is one year old!

So, what was the big news on EcoBlogIT a year ago? You can take a look, of course, but my highlights were how to deal with spam (now much, much better, thanks to Postini & our own would-be writer) and the start of Google Adwords.
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Holy Smoke!

Bet you can't guess what topped of the list of the British public's top 10 innovations when polled by Cahoot!...The BBC reveals all.

The Bug

No, not the one which is causing problems for New Yorkers. This is the digital radio designed by Wayne Hemingway (or Red or Dead). The neat thing about it is that it allows you to pause or rewind the radio just like you can with a PVR (like Sky+). You can also download CD (well, CD-like) quality recorded tracks onto an SD card for playing on your MP3 player. And it's legal (at least for now until the loophole is closed)- because the radio station has already paid for the rights to air the track.
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