China’s Facial Recognition System

China is about to launch a new facial recognition system “which will be used in public places, such as airports, post offices, customs entrances and even residential communities”, according to today’s China Daily (no URL available yet.) The invention, developed by Su Guangda, an Electronic Engineering Department professor with Beijing-based Tsinghua University, has been approved …

Continue reading ‘China’s Facial Recognition System’ »

Why Hasn’t China Cracked Down on Its Rainmen?

Another mainstream media look at the alleged “Titan Rain” cyberwar strategy of the Chinese, where organised, highly disciplined and experienced gangs ferret around in Western computers. This one is from today’s Guardian Unlimited — Smash and grab, the hi-tech way: Sources involved in tracking down the gang say the Chinese group is just one of …

Continue reading ‘Why Hasn’t China Cracked Down on Its Rainmen?’ »

How To Get a Good Idea, Part I

Reading at the moment Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who mentions the trick German experimental physicist Heinz Maier-Leibnitz used to do in boring conferences to entertain himself and to measure the lengths of his trains of thought — microflows, in Csikszentmihalyi’s words. The passage is conveyed in full here: Professor Heinz Maier-Leibnitz, a German experimental physicist, …

Continue reading ‘How To Get a Good Idea, Part I’ »

Bob’s Background

Am reading Griff Rhys-Jones’ To The Baltic With Bob which is not quite as hilarious as the blurb promises, but has its moments: Bob goes along to a London art school to apply as a mature student on a computer graphics course: ‘What’s your background?’ asked the professor who interviewed him. Bob swivelled in his chair …

Continue reading ‘Bob’s Background’ »

Urine, Corrosion, And The Decay Of Bridges

You have to feel sorry for designers, particularly bridge designers. How can you factor in all the variables that will determine whether your bridge survives? Take for example, a bridge in Palembang, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Built between 1962 and 1965, the 1,177-meter long and 22-meter wide bridge was named after the then …

Continue reading ‘Urine, Corrosion, And The Decay Of Bridges’ »

Could Moblogging Replace Photojournalism?

A panel at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas last weekend discussed the future of moblogging — the art of creating online journals composed mostly of photos uploaded in part direct from camera-phones — and, in part, whether such activities may threaten journalism. With so many folk armed with camera phones — …

Continue reading ‘Could Moblogging Replace Photojournalism?’ »

Is Wikipedia Reliable As A Source?

A few weeks back I wrote in my column of Wikipedia, the peer-produced online encyclopedia. Several readers and friends have asked whether it really stands up to scrutiny. How could something produced by a bunch of folk who may or may not have the qualifications, may or may not have an agenda, create something that’s …

Continue reading ‘Is Wikipedia Reliable As A Source?’ »

Internet Voting: A Minority Report?

A reader kindly pointed out this New York Times piece on the Internet voting story I posted yesterday, which highlights some other aspects of the case. While four members of a panel asked to review the SERVE program — designed to allow Americans overseas to vote over the Net — said it was insecure and …

Continue reading ‘Internet Voting: A Minority Report?’ »

News: Beware The Mobile Phone

 I have long believed that we use mobile phones too much, considering what little we know about the effects on our health. Why is why I like handsfree sets and SMS. Most studies that say they’re bad for us have been pooh-poohed. Here’s another one to throw out because we don’t like what it says. …

Continue reading ‘News: Beware The Mobile Phone’ »

News: A Laptop Tale

 A cautionary tale with happy ending from South Africa, courtesy of The Daily News. An American professor gets robbed of his laptop at gunpoint, having inexplicably failed to back up years of work on AIDS from his hard drive. He then tearfully relates his story to a journalist in the tiny hope that publicity may …

Continue reading ‘News: A Laptop Tale’ »