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Archive for February, 2006

3-D Interaction on the Desktop

Metisse

Screen-shot of Metisse for FVWM

I have just had a rare chance to become part of an exciting experiment. It took place at the The Manchester Visualisation Centre, which is near my office. This involved a new method for interaction with visual data.

A pen is being moved in 3-D space and its route gets traced in real time. Atop that, vibrations are as subtle feedback that indicates contact with items on the screen. It was only a week ago that I discussed the issue of 3-D desktops, i.e. ones with depth, where one can interact with items and be able to feel them. That notion of depth could become a good surrogate for virtual desktops. Another issue is the sensitivity of touch, realisation of depth without special displays and stereo-imagery glasses, and also the motion arms that move up and down, thereby leading to tiredness.

I must admit that got quite excited about the device and asked the lady how much it would cost to purchase one for my workstation. When I was told that the cost is 10,000 pounds per unit, I immediately gave up on the idea. Needless to mention!

Related items:

The Misjudged Security Model

Bill Gates

BILL Gates comes from a dynasty of businessmen and politicians. Over the years he was trying to commercialise software and nowadays he monopolises it. So what gives?

Commercial software companies liquify no assets into cash. They merely sell binaries (not even code) and offer little or no direct customer support. Accruing profits in such a matter is just lush, but is it acceptable at all? Is the final product doing what ‘it says on the tin’? Often it is not the case. Microsoft will soon sell a product to fix yet another broken product of theirs, which is absurd. Rather than offer refunds and benefits, which somehow compensate for a broken operating system, more money is extracted from the customer.

The above leads to serious questioning. Such marketing tactics do not appeal to anyone but the obedient Microsoft programmer whose understanding of hacking is flawed and often inexistent. That perhaps is why Windows fails to cope with that vital aspect which is security. That is why minor DDOS attacks pose a big threat to Windows servers, machines get hijacked and remote execution of code has become worryingly prevalent. Planting of programs and vandalism from afar is a face of evil that continues to take place. And yet, only few among us choose to blame the real culprit — Microsoft software.

Search Engines ‘Bribe’ Users

Money on keyboard

The Wall Street Journal has taken an overview on per-for-use campaigns, which have become the norm among search engines.

Microsoft Corp. launched a campaign last week
offering $1 million in prizes…
…to users of its MSN search engine

…roughly a cent to a charity of the user’s
choice every time a search is conducted on
its Yahoo-based search engine…

…Amazon.com Inc. offers regular users of
its A9 search engine a 1.57% discount on
most Amazon.com purchases…

… Blingo.com, powered by Google, gives
away prizes like iPods and movie tickets
to lucky users who happen to search at
random times…

Users are getting paid to get served (and absorb advertisements in the process). In due time, this builds up loyalty and dependency. Yahoo offer many other benefits, which are not mentioned in this article. Google rewards people for using Firefox, which is a separate-yet-related matter altogether.

Self-Destructive Cultural Habits

Girl covers ears
Shut your ears, stop the radiation and avoid the fumes

TO this date, I loathe the prevalence of high-intensity antennas, particularly those that serve mobile communication. These are often installed on the top of roofs of businesses, which in turn get paid (bribed) to tolerate consequent inconveniences. It was only last month that I came to discover one such controversy. This happened at a hotel I used to go to, where demonstrations by local residents were sparked by a decision to install monstrous antennas.

I still refuse to embrace telephony (alluded to in this previous essay) unless it is vital. I am aware of the ‘radiative implications’ of cellular phones, especially when they are active, i.e. on call. Vis-a-vis, my father encouraged my older sister to always use headphones and a microphone with her cellular phone, if not limit its use altogether. The issue of radiation lingers on and exacerbates as time goes. The reason: wireless communication rises owing to customer demand and bandwidth greed.

To digress, then comes the issue of wireless Internet networking, which I have always been wondering about with health complications/implications in mind. Whether commonplace Wireless or even Bluetooth, such radio frequencies of strong magnitude increase the risk level or rate of tumour growth and development. Turning over to some recent news, you can finally find a University where wireless access has been limited due to health concerns.

Criticism of wireless network is somewhat of a taboo, still. You cannot comfortably point this out among your surrounding colleagues and friends. The crushing majority does not care and does not want to know about the long-term consequences, which are yet to affect the young(er) generation most prominently.

While on the subject of self-damaging habits amongst society, choice of headphones should be yet another important matter. Many choose in-ear headphone and listen to loud music. Some of the local clubs would leave my ears ringing for 2 days afterwards, so no doubt damage is being done.

Lastly, my last health concern is related to smoking. Fortunately here in Britain, nightclubs and pubs were very recently requested to inherit and embrace the “No Smoking” policy, thereby joining other venues like the workplaces. Surely enough, some of us could abstain from going to smoky places, but what about the staff — those who do not necessarily smoke? The smoke-free workplace arguments collide. Some employees at the pubs, such as bartenders, may spend dozens of hours per week passively exposed to constant inhalation of damaging smoke. It clogs up the lungs, ruins the voice, and makes the clothes reek. That is not a matter of choice, but a way of making ends meet.

Hiding Your E-mail Address

Separate boxes
Separating ham and spam

ONE powerful technique to avoiding spam are E-mail addresses (accounts) which are not public. They can reside rather happily alongside more public address(es), but the level of ‘noise’ in each then varies. Reading habits benefit from the separation.

An odd suspicion should rise when a private (undisclosed) mail account is beginning to receive spam. Then, one can only spect that EITHER:

  • A trusted person gave the E-mail address to a spammer or posted it publicly for ratbots to harvest

OR

  • Somebody’s computer has been hijacked and address book data pulled from it, leading to misuse

This unfortunate scenario has recently hit me. At the end, it turned out that SpamAssassin was disabled, so I reported the fault to my host. My private account remains clean and has been clean for over a year. I warmheartedly recommend this tactic, which will be explained at greater depth if you follow the link above.

Europe to Compete With American ‘Elite’

EU flag

PROPOSALS have become Europe’s on-paper solution to America’s economic strength. Another proposal has been unveiled, which aims to help Europe complete with prestigious American institutions such as The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This is reminiscent of their plan to kick off a European initiative to create a powerful search engine.

The European Commission has unveiled plans for a world-class institute of technology intended to boost the EU’s economic competitiveness.

Google Sued Over Image Search

Porn shop

Perfect 10, which is an erotic magazine, has successfully sued Google for infringing some rights with its image search facility. This is not the first time a story as such emerged.

A federal judge has ruled that portions of Google’s popular image search feature, which displays small thumbnail versions of images found on other Web sites, likely violate U.S. copyright law.

I abide by my belief that Google make fair use of the material, yet erotica might be the exception. Image search in Google draws over 10,000 visitors to my Web sites every month, so I dare not complain!

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