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Comment: Re:And let someone into my garage? (Score 1) 82

by Roblimo (#48889215) Attached to: 'Never Miss Another Delivery' - if You Have a TrackPIN (Video)

1) You could use the last 4 digits of the package tracking number as the delivery driver's PIN, and tell him or her what to do in a note stuck to your front door. Well, *you* could, anyway. These insensitive clods forgot that a lot of us don't have garages, which means their product is useless to us.

2) Leave packages with neighbors, and if they're not home leave them at the trailer park (or apartment or condo ass'n) office. You can stick a note on your door telling the delivery driver what to do. Of course, this would require the invention of post-it notes or masking tape. Oh, wait....

Security

'Never Miss Another Delivery' - if You Have a TrackPIN (Video) 82

Posted by Roblimo
from the let-me-in-let-me-in-by-the-hair-on-my-chinny-chin-chin dept.
The company is called TrackPIN, as is the product. Its creator, Mark Hall, showed it off at CES. Timothy pointed his camcorder at Mark as he explained how his product would let you get package deliveries safely when you aren't home by giving the UPS or FedEx (or other) delivery person access to your garage, as well as letting in selected people like your maid, your plumber, and possibly an aquarium cleaner. Each one can have a private, one-time PIN number that will actuate your garage door opener through the (~$250) TrackPIN keypad and tell your smartphone or other net-connected device that your garage was just opened, and by whom. You might even call this, "One small step for package delivery; a giant leap forward for the Internet of Things." Except those of us who don't have garages (not to mention electric garage door openers) may want to skip today's video; the TrackPIN isn't meant for the likes of us. (Alternate Video Link)

Comment: Re:why the fuck (Score 2) 101

I don't see this as any different than any other MVNO deal. All four major carriers already have a number of deals with fifth-party carriers (e.g. TracFone, Cricket, StraightTalk, Republic Wireless, etc). and if Google wants to get into the MVNO business, then it makes perfect sense to sell to them. Why? Because if they don't buy from you, then they'll just buy from someone else.

MVNO deals produce less revenue per minute or megabyte than retail sales, it is true, but they also take a slice of the risk of dealing with retail customers off of the network owner and put it onto the MVNO. Think of it as bundling in reverse.

Bitcoin

Jim Blasko Explains 'Unbreakable Coin' (Video 2 of 2) 39

Posted by timothy
from the is-it-cryptocurrency-or-cryptic-currency? dept.
Today, the conclusion of my talk with Jim Blasko (here's part 1), who encourages you to go start your own crypto currency, because it's a fun exercise and because every entrant adds new ideas to the mix. As you'd expect, he's bullish about both his own Unbreakable Coin and cryptocurrencies more generally; how any given given currency performs, though, is an open question: U.S. dollars, Euros, or Yen may not go experience any meteoric rises, but their stability, even with inflation, is a nice feature, and so is their worldwide convertibility.

Regulation, speculation, fraud, and cultural fashions all play a role in making new currencies risky; reader mbkennel yesterday asked an insightful question: "Are you up to loaning bitcoin or something less popular for 10 years?" Confidence in any given currency can be tested with the terms current holders are willing to accept to make loans payable in that same currency. (On the other hand, if large companies will accept it in payment, they've probably got an idea that a given currency will be around next month or next year.) If you've bought any form of crypto currency, what's been your experience, and what do you expect in 10 years? (Alternate Video Link)

Comment: Re: No video on Linux (Score 1) 221

by Roblimo (#48869363) Attached to: The Current State of Linux Video Editing

Yep. I try various video editors every year or so and for the past 7 or 8 years have kept coming back to Vegas. Stable, does even the most complex things I need to do including fancy title work, and is the fastest, least hardware-hungry NLE I've found. Stable? You bet! I'm running a so-so HP AMD duocore with 4 GB RAM and I can't remember the last crash. "It just works."

Improvements in Windows stability over the last few years have admittedly helped. But Vegas gives my clients the best value for their money even if it means I need to boot into Windows to use it.

Is this partly because I'm accustomed to Vegas, to the point where I could give classes in it? You bet. But familiarity is also why I stick with Ubuntu (when not doing video work), LibreOffice, GIMP, Pidgin, Bluefish, and other FOSS (and a few commie) programs I've been using for a long time.

Bitcoin

Jim Blasko Explains BitCoin Spinoff 'Unbreakable Coin' (Video 1 of 2) 55

Posted by timothy
from the yet-another-cryptocurrency dept.
Las Vegas seems an appropriate place for cryptocurrency businesses to emerge, both because the coins themselves are so volatile that some gambling instinct may be required, and because Vegas is a high-tech outpost with lower taxes and lower rents than many other West Coast hot-spots, well-suited to risky startups with ambition but without huge venture backing.Jim Blasko moved there to work on low-voltage engineering for Penn & Teller, and is a qualified Crestron programmer, too (useful in a town that looks from the air like one giant light-show), but has shifted to a quite different endeavor, or rather a complex of them — all related to cryptocurrency. I ran into Blasko during this month's CES, at a forum with several other cryptocoin startups, and the next day we met to talk about just how hard (or easy) it is to get into this world as an entrepreneur.

Blasko has some advice for anyone who'd like to try minting a new cryptocurrency. Making your own coin, he says, is the easy part: anyone can clone code from an existing entrant, like Bitcoin, and rename the result — and that's exactly what he did. The hard work is what comes after: making worthwhile changes, building trust, and making it tradeable. Blasko's done the legwork to get his own currency, which he's bravely called "Unbreakable Coin," listed on exchanges like Cryptsy, and is working on his own auction site as well. He's also got an interesting idea for cryptocoin trading cards, and had a few prototypes on hand. (Part 1 is below; Part 2 to follow.) Alternate Video Link

Comment: Re:In other news... (Score 1) 289

by Phreakiture (#48859929) Attached to: Police Nation-Wide Use Wall-Penetrating Radars To Peer Into Homes

Taken from the manufacturer's website (emphasis added):

Wall Penetration

RANGE- R will penetrate most common building wall, ceiling or floor types including poured concrete, concrete block, brick, wood, stucco glass, adobe, dirt, etc. However, It will not penetrate metal. RANGE-R will generally penetrate up to one foot of wall thickness without adverse effects. While small metal objects embedded in walls (i.e. rebar, conduits, etc.) usually do not inhibit operation, a large enough metal object can impair operation. When this happens, the wisest course of action is to make more than one scan from different locations (move a few feet) for confirmation. If a porous wall is saturated with water, performance can also be degraded due to excessive absorption of the radar energy.

It seems a layer of sheet metal just behind the drywall would be a Good Thing. It may resolve some other problems as well.

The Internet

The 'Radio Network of Things' Can Cut Electric Bills (Video) 172

Posted by Roblimo
from the trying-to-bring-the-electric-power-grid-into-the-21st-century dept.
We all love 'The Internet of Things.' Now imagine appliances, such as your refrigerator and hot water heater, getting radio messages from the power grid telling them when they should turn on and off to get the best electricity prices. Now kick that up to the electric company level, and give them a radio network that tells them which electric provider to get electricity from at what time to get the best (wholesale) price. This is what e-Radio is doing. They make this claim: "Using pre-existing and near ubiquitous radio signals can save billions of dollars, reduce environmental impact, add remote addressability and reap additional significant societal benefits."

Timothy noticed these people at CES. They were one of the least flashy and least "consumer-y" exhibitors. But saving electricity by using it efficiently, while not glamorous, is at least as important as a $6000 Android phone. Note that the guy e-Radio had at CES speaking to Timothy was Scott Cuthbertson, their Chief Financial Officer. It's a technology-driven company, from Founder and CEO Jackson Wang on down, but in the end, saving money is what they sell. (Alternate Video Link)

Comment: Re:Don't forget there's always a workaround (Score 1) 179

by Phreakiture (#48823853) Attached to: Marriot Back-Pedals On Wireless Blocking

Bluetooth is also a possibility but I think it would be slower than USB.

I can confirm tha tyou are correct on both points: It works for this purpose, and it is slower than USB. It might solve the tablet problem, though. I say might because i haven't tried it, but I have tried laptop to phone via BT.

Technology

Talk to the World Through Ubi -- and Use Gestures, Too (Video) 38

Posted by Roblimo
from the not-quite-star-trek-but-getting-there dept.
'The Ubi is an always-on voice-activated computer ready to help. Just plug it in, talk to it and it'll help you connect with your world.' That Kickstarter project description back in 2012 helped UBI raise $229,594 even though they only hoped for $36,000. So now they sell Ubis for $299, as you can see for yourself by clicking the "BUY NOW" button in the upper right corner of www.TheUbi.com, their site's main page. A cynic might say that a decent Android phone can perform most Ubi functions, including a growing number of home automation control tasks, and that Android voice recognition gets better with each new release. But Ubi is cute, and round, and "you can talk through it to the ones you love."

That's great, but Android phones can do that, too. What a smartphone can't do is compete with Ubi Interactive, which may finally give us gesture-based computer input that is not only exciting in a Star Trek way, but is also practical for home and business use. This, along with Kinect, looks like a product that has a solid future ahead of it. (Alternate Video Link)
Hardware

EnOcean Wireless Sensors Don't Need Batteries (Video) 46

Posted by Roblimo
from the almost-like-heinlein's-gramps-schneider-in-magic-inc. dept.
'The EnOcean technology is an energy harvesting wireless technology used primarily in building automation systems; but is also applied to other applications in industry, transportation, logistics and smart homes,' says Wikipedia. There's also a Siemans spinoff company called EnOcean, and today's video is an interview with its president, Jim O'Callaghan. But EnOcean technology is the real star here. The idea is that energy-efficient sensors can be powered by energy harvesting, i.e. drawing energy from their surroundings, including such low-level sources as light, temperature changes, and pressure, which can be the pressure of your finger on a switch or even changes in barometric pressure. The EnOcean Alliance has a professionally-produced video that describes their technology and notes that self-powered wireless sensors not only save energy but save miles of wire between sensor nodes and controllers, which means it's possible to install more sensors sensing more parameters than in the past. (Alternate Video Link)

Comment: Re:Sorta related... the teletype machine (Score 1) 790

by Phreakiture (#48795129) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Sounds We Don't Hear Any More?

Lucky you.

About a year ago, I started getting fax calls to my phone at all hours of the day and night. Worse, they were from a large number of different sources. As if that weren't bad enough, most of these sources were international, leading to garbled CID, if any CID at all, making it impossible to put a block on them (the form to block a number wouldn't accept any numbers not of the US-standard NPA-NXX-XXXX format). It was fucking ridiculous.

The reason that every major university maintains a department of mathematics is that it's cheaper than institutionalizing all those people.

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