We’re All Kevin Smiths Now

(This is a copy of my Loose Wire Sevice column, produced for newspapers and other print publications. Hence the lack of links.) A few weeks ago a gentleman of, by his own account, more than average girth was thrown off a Southwest Air flight between Oakland and Burbank. Unfortunately for the airline this was no …

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The New Newswire: a Dutch Student Called Michael

Twitter is now a news service in its own right. ReadWrite Web, an excellent website dedicated to Web 2.0 stuff, points out that the recent earthquake in England–not that unusual in itself, apparently, but rarely actually strong enough to be felt by humans—was reported first by Twitterers and by a Twitter-only news service called BreakingNewsOn …

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Satellites to the Rescue

Here’s a piece I wrote for the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation on how satellites and space technology are helping, and might help, in the case of big medical emergencies, from earthquakes to Ebola. It’s a slightly different tack for me and perhaps not the usual fare for loose wire blog, but I thought …

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Getting Ecards from Worshippers

You got to give scammers credit where credit is due. This latest wave of e-card spam at least exhibits some imagination on the part of the sender: At first it was from a friend, then a colleague, then a classmate; now it’s neighbors and worshippers sending you ecards. Good on them. I must confess I don’t …

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Google Earth as Harbinger of Doom

Researchers are using Google Earth, the New York Times/IHT reports, to look for evidence of giant tsunamis, signs that the Earth has been hit by comets or asteroids more regularly, and more recently, than people thought: This year the group started using Google Earth, a free source of satellite images, to search around the globe …

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Indonesia’s Quake

For anyone interested in helping the victims of the Yogyakarta earthquake, in which thousands of people have been killed inside their heavy stone and slate homes, here’s Indonesia Help – Earthquake and Tsunami Victims. Sadly, this website was originally set up for the tsunami, now 17 months ago, but has been quickly resurrected to provide …

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Tsunamis, Warnings and the SMS

Systems — especially warning systems — need to work perfectly, or not at all. Take Thailand’s new tsunami early warning system, which recently failed a trial because busy phone networks took hours to deliver vital SMS messages, while some some warnings sent by fax didn’t turn up at all, according to AFP. (More on the …

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Googling the Tsunami

More from Google Trends, the sad rise and fall in our interest in the tsunami: At the end of 2004, the Asian Tsunami piqued/peaked our attention, but the later blips (F, the last little flag on the chart, is the first anniversay) reflect, perhaps, how quickly such things are forgotten.

Phones As Emergency Tools

The excellent textually.org  carries a piece about a technology which would allow people to “receive emergency messages on their mobile phones via an audio system — even when networks are down or out of reach, such as when underground”. The signal would be embedded as “data in an audio signal which can be transmitted over a …

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One Kid, A Tsunami, Nineteen Days At Sea, And A Soccer Match

This is nothing to do with technology, but it’s such a wonderful story I have to share it. Here’s how AP reported it: Portugal welcomes a special fan: Indonesian tsunami survivor LISBON, Portugal (AP): When Portugal walks onto the field Saturday to play Slovakia in a World Cup qualifying match, its captain will be holding …

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