Friday, December 15, 2006

Have a Great Christmas!

Hope you all have a great Christmas. I am shutting down the computer for a a couple of weeks and going to introduce myself to my garden.

See you mid January .

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Keeping up to date with Computer Security

Holiday time always seems to bring the "viruses" out in people. There always seems to be more activity on the internet around the holiday time. McAfee Avert Labs Blog is a live-update of what is going on in the world of Internet security. (Rumour Has It), has been around for awhile. has a variety of topics but the computer virus hoaxes & viruses lists all those crazy emails that you may get into your inbox. Is it a virus? Is it a hoax?

Symantec has a daily forum called the Threat Explorer that uncovers email hoaxes on a regular basis. Best plan of attack against these....JUST DELETE THEM. The Threat Explorer is a one-stop-shop for threats to your computer system. From the latest viruses to the latest email hoaxes.

McAfee also has a security section listing recent security threats (viruses, worms, trojans, etc...)

About: Urban Legends and Folklore has a great site by David Emery that gives you updates on the latest email hoaxes.

Remember with the holiday season comes more time to download songs, websites, files, etc... while playing/working on the computer. Be safe on your Internet/computer holiday journey.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Youth + Technology + Crime

There have been a lot of reports throughout international news lately about organized crime recruiting the young computer student for a life of crime. McAfee released their Virtual Criminology Report 2006 on organized crime and the internet that revealed some shocking research. The study reveals how "Internet savvy teens as young as 14 are being attracted into cybercrime by the celebrity status of hi-tech criminals and the promise of making money without the risks associated with traditional crime." Criminals scan through hacker message boards, forums, etc... looking for the hacking rebel. Some computer technology students have even been found to have crime families sponsoring their IT degrees. Once completed they would go and work for the crime families.

Botnets (mass number of computers unknowingly compromised that have been turned into a world network of devices that attack in unison or command) have steadily become one of the powerful tools for cyber crime. McAfee reported it to be a serious threat in their 2005 report and in the 2006 report they estimate that now over 12 million computers worldwide have now been compromised for "phishing schemes, illegal spamming, spreading pornography and stealing passwords and identities."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Fun Xmas Presents

That holiday season is upon us and I thought I would list a couple of Christmas presents that you could buy for your favourite "techie" person.

My favourite this season has to be the lighted slippers. LED light sensitive sensors illuminate your way at night to help avoid stumbling over the furniture when you are up late working on the computer.

MAKE technology has directions for the "home made" version of the lighted slipper.

Need to record a television show for your Sony PSP, iPod or other handheld devices? Neuros: MPEG 4 recorder"Neuros works like a mini digital VCR and eliminates all fees, hassle and conversion of files. You can record live TV, your favorite movies and TV shows and watch them anytime...anywhere...on almost any portable device. Put video on your PSP™, iPod™, smartphone, notebook and other portables!"

How about giving an audio book to listen on the iPod? has over 35,000 titles to choose from.

Or how about the USB Drive Pen .... a high quality pen with a 256MB 1.1/2.0 USB flash drive on the end that can easily be put into your laptop or more lanyards hanging around your neck.

Monday, December 11, 2006

High Definition TV from your Mobile Phone

MEMS stands for "microelectromechanical system" which allows rapid scanning of wide areas with a laser. "A silicon mirror suspended by carbon fibers can vibrate very quickly, scanning a laser across a surface fast enough to draw high-resolution images." MEMS is acclaimed as the new technologies for this century. Research in biomedical engineering, communications & networks, electromagnetics, multimedia processing, microelectronics are just a few of the areas that is conducting MEMS research.

What does that mean for me and why should I care about MEMS in education?

An article written in MIT's Technology Review reports that researchers at Cornell University have used the MEMS technology to develop a new tiny projector. This project can display a metre wide display from only half a metre away.

While working to get production costs three years we could see high definition television displayed from our mobile phones and other portable devices.

Imagine a teacher walking into the classroom with only a PDA in hand ready to teach the class. Projection capability, Internet connectivity, videos, lessons, attendance, all available through the PDA.....what could be possible with MEMS technology?

Need to project something to the whiteboard for the students.....quickly use the PDA wireless connection to the internet and project a website or the days lesson onto the board.

Wait there is a show on world history being shown on satellite television....grab the PDA and prop it on the desk, plug the speakers into the PDA, connect to the schools satellite and project the show.

Before the physical education class goes out onto the field to play rugby.....let's review the plays. All students gather around the outside of the school and the phys.ed teacher projects on the outside wall of the school (from his PDA) a quick review of rugby videos on various plays the students will need to perform on the field.

Showing a PowerPoint and want to edit it on the fly? While you are showing a PowerPoint through your PDA....attach your virtual laser keyboard to your PDA and you can add content to your PowerPoint during the lesson.

Wow....I envision a whole new freedom for educators in the next couple of years. I think with MEMS and other new technologies it is going to change the look of the classroom (hopefully for the good) and give educators a new freedom from all of the "tools" we have to gather up for a lesson today (projectors, smartboards, computers, etc....).
Are we there yet?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Is Big Brother Watching?

Is Big Brother watching you?

Many cities are installing security cameras throughout some of their streets and communities. Many schools around the world have security cameras installed around their schools and campuses.

SoundIntelligence has developed an anger/aggression detection device called SIgard that was installed on November 15th in the city of Groningen (Holland). I have been to Groningen several years ago and I don't recall that this was a city that had mob riots and would require such a device throughout its public streets. From that moment on the observation room will make use of a unique preventive aid that will make sure the police can intervene immediately when aggressive behavior is noticed in the area Poelestraat / Peperstraat. The mayor of Groningen, mister Jacq Wallage, describes the value of SIgard as: "In addition to our camera system, the aggression detection is very important. This new technology makes sure that the camera activates only when necessary and is therefore not violating public privacy."

How the system works is that it monitors input sensors from around its locations. Once it detects verbal aggression from a human voice it activates the camera for that area and the security guards are able to monitor the situation.

What happens if a couple are having a domestic fight? What if a child is being disciplined by a parent? Fights on a school playground? An interesting new development that may be coming to a town/school near you.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Blogger Lost Ability to Load Images

Seems a lot of "Blogger's" bloggers have lost the ability to upload images to their blogs. I lost that capability this morning. Changing browsers didn't work or speaking nicely to the computer screen :(

I have noticed over the last couple of days that it had been difficult to upload new content as only half would upload then you would lose the other half that you had written. Normally I am up quite early in the morning so there is not a lot of "margin" for me to lose my thoughts.

I guess the most frustrating thing is to try and find (in this Google owned company) where on the support website you can actually report this issue to a "real person."

Sometimes "free" things have hiccups. I will be merging this blog over to my new website over the holidays. Hopefully the images function will return before then.

New Zealand iTunes Store has Opened in Time for Christmas

Yesterday iTunes released the New Zealand online iTunes Store. Songs run in the range of $1.79NZ and music albums range from around $17.90NZ to $23.99NZ, and music videos are $3.59NZ each. New on iTunes is iPod games (5th generation iPods with video only) running at $7.99NZ. Audiobooks sample prices ranged from $15.99NZ to $56.99NZ.

The music selection available seems to be quite limited...hopefully this will grow quickly over the next couple of weeks.

The direct link through your iTunes store....the Apple store has all products available online for the general public and educational purchases.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


"The museum of science, art and human perception."

Exploratorium museum was founded in 1969 by a physicist and educator Dr. Frank Oppenheimer. Located in San Francisco's landmark Palace of Fine Arts, the Exploratorium is a collage of hundreds of interactive exhibits in the areas of science, art, and human perception.

The Exploratorium magazine has been in print since 1977 and published a quarterly until 2003. It has now moved to an online version to support the published magazine. There are a lot of great activities and articles to use in the classroom. One of the activities in the latest version is students creating self-portrait silhouettes using photographic paper.

Some of the back issues that are available online are:

  • Learn all about paper.
  • Where do languages come from?
  • The mystery of space.
  • Explore the science of chocolate.
  • Better hair through chemistry.
  • Understanding aging memory.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A New World of a 3D Mouse

3DConnexion (a family company of Logitech) have designed a family of 3D input devices. " 3Dconnexion's line of 3D navigation devices allow you to fly through three dimensional worlds or manipulate 3D objects with an agility and precision unachievable with a mouse and keyboard. Simultaneously pan, zoom and rotate 3D images without repeatedly stopping to change directions."

This input device takes a standard mouse to a new level. With names like: SpaceTraveler, SpaceNavigator, SpaceExplorer and SpacePilot a user just knows they are in for a unique experience.

The demo video on website shows a user now capable of moving seamlessly through a virtual world or 3D program. Will this help my avatar in SecondLife become more graceful - probably not :)

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Future of Books, Publishers and BookStores

With all the technology speeding around us what is the future of print communication? Here are some examples of where it might be heading.

Are you a budding journalist and have just written your first book. Wait no longer......BooksOnDemand is a full publishing service for anyone with a couple of dollars in their pocket. Gone are the days of rejections from publishers - this new e-publishing model has taken traditional publishing to the next level...."anyone can publish a book as long as you can pay for it."

Another company that has also developed a unique printing/book store model is OnDemandBooks (if you are very sharp you will have noticed the play on words between the two companies......)

" offers just what it implies. We print books in the quantities that you need, whether it be a few or a few thousand. We offer a variety of sizes and binding types. They can bind books up to 2,050 pages." They have taken the physical aspect of printing a book out of a huge warehouse and purchasing it from a bookstore into a vending machine. Yes folks you can buy everything from gum to an iPod from a vending machine and now you will be able to buy a book from one. Soon to debut in libraries and bookstores across the US.

"The machine can print, align, mill, glue and bind two books simultaneously in less than seven minutes, including full-color laminated covers. It prints in any language and will even accommodate right-to-left texts by putting the spine on the right." Read more from Fortune Small Business and watch the demo video of the alpha machine producing a book .

Yet other companies are banking on tachistoscope as a way to read books on mobile devices. Tachistoscope has been around for a few years and was developed as a way to learn how to speed read. Words are flashed on the screen (quickly) one word a time and can be set for the speed of the reader. Andrew Stephens (a programmer from Auckland, NZ) has an online demo of tachistoscope simulation. A UK based company ICUE is banking on tachistoscope being a hit for cellphone users, ".... able to store hundreds of books on your mobile phone so that you can read them whenever, or wherever, you want."

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Good Folks at GE

Well another Friday is upon in New Zealand we are counting the days until school summer holidays which starts mid December. This is still a strange concept for this Canadian who has been used to -35 Celsius and shoveling snow at this time of year.

Need a few moments to let your mind wander....go to the good folks at GE who have a team of "imagineers" that sit around all day just thinking up cool stuff...nice job.

One of their creative tools is an interactive whiteboard built in Flash (you will need to upgrade your flash player to the latest version - and don't forget to "uncheck" the yahoo toolbar if you don't want it installed with your player.)

You can create e-cards and email them to your friends and family. You can also invite other people to collaborate and brainstorm with you at the same time. Have your students enter individually or in teams and have them create a visual collaboration. You can save, email or print your creations.

Have fun and have a great weekend!