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Flying Cars

Volocopters, UAMs and eVTOLS

Another acronym you need to get used to: UAM, for Urban Air Mobility. Think flying cars. Or for now, helicopters and drones that carry people. Like the Volocopter, which completed its first manned flight over Singapore’s Marina Bay last week (see below). It’s also opened the first air taxi voloport (yes, you’re going to have to get used to these names, I’m afraid.) You don’t think of Singapore as a place where traffic jams and poor infrastructure make you want to take to the skies, but in terms of friendly regulators and investment boards, it’s certainly the place to start. German-based Volocopter opened an officeContinue readingVolocopters, UAMs and eVTOLS

BBC: Cars we can’t drive

Let’s face it: we’re not about to have driverless cars in our driveway any time soon. Soonest: a decade. Latest: a lot longer, according to the folk I’ve spoken to. But in some ways, if you’ve got the dosh, you can already take your foot off the gas and hands off the steering wheel. Higher end cars have what are called active safety features, such as warning you if you stray out of your lane, or if you’re about to fall asleep, or which let the car take over the driving if you’re in heavy, slow moving traffic. Admittedly these are just glimpses of whatContinue readingBBC: Cars we can’t drive

Afghanistan’s TV Phone Users Offer a Lesson

By Jeremy Wagstaff There’s something I notice amid all the dust, drudgery and danger of Kabul life: the cellphone TVs. No guard booth—and there are lots of them—is complete without a little cellphone sitting on its side, pumping out some surprisingly clear picture of a TV show. This evening at one hostelry the guard, AK-47 absent-mindedly askew on the bench, had plugged his into a TV. I don’t know why. Maybe the phone gave better reception. All I know is that guys who a couple of years ago had no means of communication now have a computer in their hand. Not only that, it’s aContinue readingAfghanistan’s TV Phone Users Offer a Lesson

Why Hotels Should Avoid Social Media

By Jeremy Wagstaff (this is a copy of my column for newspapers) If The Wall Street Journal is to be believed—and as a former contributor I’ve no reason to doubt it—the best way to get decent hotel service these days is to tweet about how bad it is. And reading the piece made me realize that, when it comes to an industry like the leisure industry, social media can only be a disaster for your brand. An article by Sarah Nassauer says that “hotels and resorts are amassing a growing army of sleuths whose job it is to monitor what is said about them online—andContinue readingWhy Hotels Should Avoid Social Media

KL’s Airport Gets Infected

If there’s one place you hope you won’t get infected by a computer virus, it’s an airport. It’s not just that the virus may fiddle with your departure times; it’s the wider possibility that the virus may have infected more sensitive parts of the airport: ticketing, say, or—heaven forbid—flight control. Kuala Lumpur International Airport—Malaysia’s main international airport—was on Friday infected by the W32.Downadup worm, which exploits a vulnerability in Windows Microsoft patched back in October. The worm, according to Symantec, does a number of things, creating an http server on the compromised computer, deletes restore points, downloads other file and then starts spreading itself toContinue readingKL’s Airport Gets Infected

Obese Texters, Back to the Future, and Scams

I make an appearance on the excellent Breakfast Club show on Radio Australia each Friday at about 01:15 GMT and some listeners have asked me post links to the stuff I talk about, so here they are. Texting reduces obesity If your kids are getting a little overweight, then treat them to a bit of texting. But it’s not quite how it sounds (I thought it might be something to do with the aerobic workout you get from the thumb twiddling.) No, a study by the University of North Carolina suggests that if obese kids are encouraged to keep a record of their eating habitsContinue readingObese Texters, Back to the Future, and Scams

Death of a ‘Toughbook’

(update: after two days of nothing, the device is now booting again and Panasonic have offered to take a closer look at it and tell me what happened.) My faith in my Panasonic Toughbook took a bath today when a waitress poured coffee all over it (and me.) It’s that absurd thing that waiters do of having to put coffee and food down right next to you when you’re clearly in the middle of a key discussion/interview/meeting/nap. It was bound to happen. Still, I held out hope the Toughbook would be up to it. After all, the videos show guys doing stuff to their ToughbookContinue readingDeath of a ‘Toughbook’

The Limits of the Cloud

Microsoft’s FolderShare, a folder synchronizing tool that I’ve recommended in previous columns, is going off the air for up to three days in the middle of the week “for server upgrades”: FolderShare will be offline for a little while (48-72 hours) next week for some server upgrades. The outage begins Tuesday, June 17, at 6 PM Pacific Times (UTC-7). We hope to be back online by 6 PM Friday at the latest. I share some of the disbelief of commenters to the blog post and ZDNet’s Michael Krigsman: Users are attracted to services such as FolderShare for two reasons: useful features and the promise ofContinue readingThe Limits of the Cloud

Bluetooth Tracking

Research from Purdue University shows that Bluetooth would be a very good way to track travel time. Bluetooth devices give off unique IDs which could be used to measure speed and movement of pedestrians and vehicles. But why stop there? Wouldn’t it be possible to track people via their Bluetooth signal, if you knew one of their device IDs? Anyway, here’s the abstract (thanks, Roland.) Travel time is one of the most intuitive and widely understood performance measures. However, it is also one of the most difficult performance measures to accurately estimate. Toll tag tracking has demonstrated the utility of tracking electronic fingerprints to estimateContinue readingBluetooth Tracking

The Alarm Clock is Dead, Long Live the Cellphone

Gadgets, like software and services, often end up being used in ways the creator didn’t intend. But how many companies make the most of this opportunity? Take the cellphone. More than a third of Brits use their mobile phone as an alarm clock, according to a survey by British hotel chain Travelodge (thanks textually.org): Budget hotel chain Travelodge quizzed 3,000 respondents on waking up habits and 71% of UK adults claimed that alarm clocks are now obsolete. The faithful bedside companion has been cast off in favour of the modern must-have, a mobile phone. Sixteen million Brits (36%) now prefer using the latest ring toneContinue readingThe Alarm Clock is Dead, Long Live the Cellphone

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