25 Nov 2005

ubisense deployed in the us army training grounds

here's an interesting article from rfid journal on the use of ubisense location system for US army training purposes.

 Ezimagecatalogue Catalogue Variations 2691-400X500

in case people don't know, these are the guys behind the bat system, an ultrasonic location system that was developed at AT&T Cambridge. these guys went on to create an ultra wideband location systems and actually made a commercial product out of it.

we're lucky enough here are the digital technology group in the computer lab of the university of cambridge to do research on both location systems.

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19 Nov 2005

cool 2 litre asahi can

we went to yippee on friday night, and look at the swag we bagged. a sweet 2 litre aluminum can with an sweet detachable handle. never has beer looked so good. so good in fact when we went around to the bun shop, the bar-minions told us we had to put it away because it was making people drink "super-dry beer for all seasons" rather than the warm british ales like green king or adnams.


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19 Nov 2005

who's going to wash the pint glasses?

anil and andy rice in a dispute about who is going to wash the glasses on the table. overheard comments were "i will crush you!" and "you call that a bicep?"


of course, anil didn't have any beer, i swear.

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18 Nov 2005

great demo of mochikit

i've been using mochikit for a while now and its quite cool. but this screencast that is now available introduces some really cool features with 1.1. if you're going to do javascript stuff, familiar with python, then you should really get a look at the mochikit screencast.

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17 Nov 2005

real reason why australia is in the world cup!

further to my post about australia making it to the world cup, here is the real reason why it actually made it. john safran is one of my favourite comics in australia, behind roy and hg, rove mcmannus, the guys from the panel, tony martin and mick molloy ..

anyway, getting back to the real reason, aap (australian associate press) reports in "the onion"-esque style that john safran had went and channelled the zimbawbe witchdoctor who allegedly put a curse on the australian team in the 1970s due to defaulting on a payment:

"I did it. I reversed the curse," Safran told SBS television.
"I found a witch doctor who said he could channel the original dead witchdoctor who cursed the team so we went to the pitch where Australia played and he smeared chicken blood all over me."

for those who don't know about john safran, he's a religious satirist. on the dvd set of john safran vs god, he attempts to inflirtrate the free masons and gives zen buddhism a twirl in his religion road test in kyoto, japan. anyway, back to the story, here's the actual video of him being sprayed with chicken blood! (note: click on episode 7)

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17 Nov 2005

australia into the world cup!

it's been 30 years, well, 32 years to be exact, but finally australia will take part in the world cup in 2006! hey, anyone interested in going to germany in 2006 to watch a game or two with me? i wouldn't mind going watching some group stage matches with australia. i doubt that they'd get to the last 16 ;)

i didn't have much hope of them qualifying after losing 1-0 to their arch-nemisis uruguay on the first leg, but they managed to force a penalty shootout that they won with ease. awesome!

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16 Nov 2005

the attack of the mini clones

seems like we are ready for the onslaught of mac mini clones.

here's an interesting one from japan called the nano-micro 1U.

 02 Images Nano

it looks reasonable, except for the big ass logo at the front and the ugly grill. the back looks like it was made in china. but the nice thing is that its got two ethernet ports, two usb ports, an cf card slot and microphone jack! (yes, the mac mini doesn't have a microphone jack)

not a bad piece of kit to play around with, except its only a 800MHz VIA C3 with 256MB RAM. more details thanks to akihabara news.

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16 Nov 2005

underground skyscrapper sketching cult

i stumbled across this site called skyscraperpage.com via bwg who was talking about a nice summary of hong kong skyscrappers.

curious about the field "illustrator" in the listing, because it implies that people submitted their own skyscrapper drawings, i was shocked to find at least 15 sketches had been submitted of the same IFC building by 15 different people. and they all looked very different.


it seems like there's an underground cult of skyscrapping sketching fanatics that i'd previously been oblivious to.

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15 Nov 2005

osx spotlight metadata not working reliably enough

a while back i talked about a little app i've been hacking on tentatively called spotstamp that basically tries to expose the metadata of the file so that the user can tag on extra keywords or information about a file.

there hasn't been much action on that front lately, because i've been busy with real work, and also because i've hit a major problem with the metadata on mac osx tiger.

the problem is that the metadata store is unreliable. metadata associated with the file is not preserved over a file copy. more over, if you backup your files, because the metadata is stored in the metadata store on the volume rather than in the resource fork of a file, you cannot back it up! i could risk losing all my annotations on my file system because of a hard disk crash, even if i have perfect backups (eg. some sort of zip file that preserves resource forks).

hence i've been considering some solutions to this problem.

one, for file types like jpeg (exif), mp3s (id3) and pdfs that allow metadata to be stored, we put the data directly in the file rather than in spotlight. what this means is that there are less possible fields without abusing a free form comment field with some structured data, but at least that data is persistent.

second solution would be to do some heavy lifting in the background and keep this mirrored data store so we could do a restore for a file if the metadata does get lost. in this case, you might as well give up on probing the metadata server directly to add extra information and store it in a separate database and write an importer for spotlight we can generate the data per file if spotlight every wants to reimport the file into the database. you could also create aliases to the files and tag those instead and keep them safe.

but, the idea is to keep the metadata with the file, so the second solution would be a real big kludge. what i wish happened was that osx actually preserved metadata in the resource fork or in a way that wasn't volatile like that. i suppose that is the reason why the osx developers hid the function call to updating the metadata manually outside of the importers, because they couldn't guarantee that the data would be preserved. they'd rather that all the metadata can be generated from the file contents itself.

until i solve that problem, i'd probably not release what i have as it would just cause more frustration than good.

other interesting observations

1. in preview, if you press cmd+i you can add keywords to a document. however, that re-saves the pdf in a format where you lose the table of contents and other PDF metadata. however, these keywords don't seem to be indexed by spotlight at all. other pdf files with keywords embedded have their keywords indexed by spotlight when downloaded.

2. a 104KB pdf in preview can be bloated by 4 times if you re-save it after adding the keywords.

3. finder copies kMDItemFinderComment attribute if you copy a file inside finder. but it doesn't do it for any other attributes.

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