Flashing Your SIM

It’s a logical move: marry the SIMcard with flash memory. Investor’s Business Daily reports that M-Systems is doing just that:

The company’s strike on the mobile phone market has a second front. It’s a new product, due to launch during the first half of 2006, that marries flash memory and a Simcard, which is used in 80% of cell phones. M-Systems calls it a Mega Simcard. <…> 
“We’re looking at the Mega Simcard as one of our biggest growth generators in ’07 and ’08,” Maor said.

This does seem to have been around at least a year as an idea (although the correct name seems to MegaSIM card) and it was supposed to have been launched by now. The card would hold up to 256 megabytes (this is according to a story a year ago; I think it’s grown by now).

I guess it’s not just about extra storage — although that would make backing up or transferring contacts a lot easier, since they tend to be split between memory and SIM — but about loading up extra programs. The provider, for example, could issue the SIM with extra software already preloaded. For companies it may also make it easier to keep data secure and swap handsets between employees. And if this product sheet (PDF) is anything to go by, it would also contain Digital Rights Management components.

The Fast-moving Backpack

At the risk of becoming a PR machine for 37 Signals and Backpack, they’ve come out with another interesting feature, this time an API:

Jason Fried tells me that the API will mean “developers…can now build on top of Backpack their own apps, pull Backpack data into their own systems, push data to Backpack from custom apps…” These include “Palm apps, Symbian apps, desktop apps, other web apps… dashboard Widgets for Tiger… you name it.”

“Backpack becomes a platform. Over the next few weeks we’ll see some cool stuff.” One example: Polling a Backpack page to pull book data from Amazon, where Amazon reading lists maintained in a Backpack list are turned into an aggregated list. Interesting stuff.

The Art Of Stone Skimming

For those of you not sure what resolution to commit to this year, here’s a suggestion: Improve your stone skimming. To help you out, this month’s Nature (subscription required for full text) carries a scientific analysis by three French academics of the optimum angle at which the stone should hit the water:

Following earlier attempts to analyse the physics of this ancestral human activity, we focus here on the crucial moment in stone skipping: when the stone bounces on the water’s surface. By monitoring the collision of a spinning disc with water, we have discovered that an angle of about 20° between the stone and the water’s surface is optimal with respect to the throwing conditions and yields the maximum possible number of bounces.

So now you know. Apparently the record is 38 bounces, set by one J. Coleman-McGhee in 1992. Good luck, and have a happy 2004.