Archive for technology

Talk To The Trees And They Now Will Listen To You

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Rain Forest

In 1951 a Broadway musical called Paint Your Wagon with book and lyrics by Alan J. Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe hit the boards. Then, in 1969 it became a successful film with popular songs like "They Call the Wind Mariah" and "Wanderin' Star."

But there was also another tune which Clint Eastwood sang in the movie version: "I Talk To The Trees."

I talk to the trees
But they don't listen to me
I talk to the stars
But they never hear me

Now there's a way to talk to the trees and they WILL listen to you.

According to HuffPo: 

Did you know that Americans throw away 150 million cellphones every year? Well now there's a new way to put some of those old phones to use. A startup called the Rainforest Connection plans to turn old, unwanted Android phones into sophisticated listening devices that can help prevent illegal logging and poaching.

Waste not, want not. So don't just toss away those old phones when you get a new one. Do something good for the environment. Help prevent the destruction of the rain forest. A simple recycling or your old cell can help save the rain forest which in turn helps save our environment.

The phones will not only help protect trees and endangered species, they will also have a direct effect on the planet. Rainforest Connection says each of their deployed phones will save 300 hectares of forest. This will provide a CO2 benefit the equivalent of removing 3,000 cars from the road for a year.

That's so little effort to do so much good. Maybe next time you talk to the trees, they WILL listen to you. Or at least there will still be trees to talk to.

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Zombified: We Phone Zombies are developing the attention span of high-speed lint. And the personalities.

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phone zombies

Image via

Another snark-filled guest post by the one, the only Will Durst, who's having a little fun with our addiction to our electronic devices. Or as Will calls us, Phone Zombies. Take it away, Will:

ZOMBIFIED

You see them staggering down our streets, heads bowed as if in prayer making the occasional grunting noise. Mindless drooling de-animated human husks walking blindly into fountains, crosswalks and lamp posts. Wake up People. We are in the middle of a science fiction movie here. Welcome to the Invasion of the Phone Zombies.

Yes, the Zombie Apocalypse has materialized and we are it. Everywhere you look you find the deathlike trance-frozen faces of we necromantic slaves with twitching fingers. Spending endless empty hours mesmerized by our tiny screens. An entire society that can’t remember its own phone number, much less that of any significant other. Of course, compared to our magical phones, there are no significant others.

Our smart phones are being manipulated by some very dumb people. Sure, amazing things can be accomplished: check the weather patterns in Outer Mongolia. Translate French past participles into Farsi. Order a chess set made out of imitation crab meat in the shape of the characters from 12 Years a Slave and have it delivered to our house before getting back from work. But in the meantime, we are developing the attention span of high-speed lint. And the personalities.

The contagion has spread everywhere. Stall zombies in public rest rooms that hog the enclosed sanctum to play a quick round of Fruit Ninja. Or two. Nightlife zombies who ignore the jokes onstage so they can respond with multiple LOLs on their electronic leash. Tangentially ambulatory zombies who get into their car but refuse to leave parking spots until checking in with High Command. Vacation zombies who spend thousands of dollars to stare at their phones in distant exotic lands.

And we zombies have proved desperate to swell our ranks. Zombifying others via slide presentations of cute cats cavorting. Even attempting to recruit potential zombie converts through such subhuman treatment as incessant shame and humiliation. “Seriously. That’s your phone? Who made it: Daewoo? Is that the fabled rotary cell phone? Must be neat to have Teddy Roosevelt on your speed dial. Bet your roaming charges are huge. Play much ‘snake’ lately?”

While our forefingers develop biceps and our thumbs evolve to the size of zucchini, society continues its deep deterioration. Groups of friends who have lost the will to converse, huddling together solely for warmth and light. Drivers staring into their laps, their faces reflecting an eerie glow. Entire families walking past each other hypnotized by their devices, going days without engaging in any major argument.

Dealing with the chronically anesthetized is exhausting. Who hasn’t tired of politely turning after being addressed only to find it’s some zombie in a suit on a Bluetooth talking to himself? But the worst are the suited Bluetoothed elevator zombies. Shut your piehole dirtwipe. Nobody here cares to know how many units need to be transferred to Topeka by Wednesday; we would pay good money to see some Topeka stuffed up your unit today.

In order to contain this pandemic, the CDC should issue a directive that encourages the unzombified to punch Bluetoothed elevator zombies right in their ear. Hard. Multiple times. And when the stupefied ones wake from their narcoleptic slumber and turn with confused expressions, inform them that it was all in the interest of the greater good. A blow for the sake of civilization itself.

Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed political comic. Go to willdurst.com to find about more about his new one- man show “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG,” info about the documentary film “3 Still Standing,” and a calendar guide to personal appearances including June 13 & 14 in Arcata & Redway.

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As Guns Get Smart NRA Gets Dumb

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smart gun

Ordinarily you'd think that the second amendment (right to bear arms) zealots would be pushing for guns to be sold. Arm everybody, everywhere, anytime. That's an NRA-type thinking. You just can't have enough guns.

So what's making hundreds of gun owners in Maryland send death threats to a gun store owner who wants to sell new guns? And what's got the NRA up in arms over prohibiting the sale of certain weapons? It's something referred to as "smart guns."

Who'd ever think of guns being described as smart? They're killing devices. But here's what's causing the bruhaha.

First, here's a look into the technology:

Now, here's a little factual coverage of the latest NRA and gun zealotry activities of late as reported by the Washington Post:

A Rockville gun store owner who said he would sell the nation’s first smart gun — even after a California gun store removed the weapon from its shelves to placate angry gun-rights activists — backed down late Thursday night after enduring a day of protests and death threats.

Andy Raymond, the co-owner of Engage Armament, a store known for its custom assault rifles, had said earlier this week that offering the Armatix iP1 handgun was a “really tough decision” after what happened to the Oak Tree Gun Club near Los Angeles. Oak Tree was lambasted by gun owners and National Rifle Association members who fear the new technology will be mandated and will encroach on Second Amendment rights.

The way I read it is gun zealots don't want certain guns sold because with knowledge of this technology being readily available, the second amendment nuts might be forced to retro-fit their guns or the weapons will become illegal. But California and Maryland are just the beginning. Gun safety is a major concern for the NRA. Fear of common sense legislation is their biggest enemy. If only the registered owner of a gun could use it, think of how the black market on guns, or kids picking up their parents gun and killing a sibling or pulling of a Sandy Hook or Columbine might be curtailed. The NRA wouldn't want that now, would they?

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Fingerprint Recognition For Guns Saves Lives

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gun safety

gun safety personalization system overview

For a while, about ten years ago, there was a rash of car break-ins where the only thing stolen was the car radio. It was a very easy item for the crooks to fence. The huge numbers of incidents of these thefts rose so high that the car manufacturers and the car radio makers got together to address this problem. And you know what? They did and so successfully that the number of radio thefts dropped precipitously.

Now almost all cars are equipped with radios that have an anti-theft mechanism. If you steal a radio, you need a special code to activate it. Even if your power goes out in your car -- the battery dies -- you need the code to activate it. So a stolen radio won't work and hence you won't be buying too many "hot" music making devices.

Necessity is the mother of all invention, or so the saying goes. And Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) has a new proposal to cut down on accidental and even intentional gun violence.  He plans on introducing new federal gun legislation that would require all firearms manufactured in the U.S. to be equipped with “personalization technology,” so that if a weapon lands in the wrong hands, it can’t be fired.

For the uninitiated, that means all guns must come with fingerprint recognition -- similar to ID codes for radios -- so that they can not be fired except by the licensed, registered owner. It doesn't stop gun sales. It only stops unauthorized use of these weapons.

If the same outcome is true for firearms as for car radios why not do it? Illegally sold firearms won't do a buyer any good if they can't be fired. Hence, less unreported or fenced gun sales.

Markey gave an interview to Boston Magazine:

The Handgun Trigger Safety Act will help ensure that only authorized users can operate handguns. This is the type of gun safety legislation that everyone—regardless of political party or affiliation—should be able to support,” he said.

Now this technology is already available. It's just plain common sense. It's not taking any rights away from legal gun registrants, those with a license -- it actually could prevent them from having their weapons stolen. Safety-safety, win-win.

The technology could include fingerprint recognition, or safety systems like the Armatix iP1, referenced in Markey’s proposal, which relies on a radio-controlled watch that is responsible for gun access and use.

If passed, the law would also require anyone selling a handgun to retrofit their weapon with personalization technology three years after the date of enactment of the bill. 

The technology already exists:

A company called Safe Gun Technology, or SGTi, has been working on a product that could do just that. Relying on biometric technology, people would be unable to fire a weapon unless they were the owner.

If someone is against such a personalization then I suggest they have something to hide. There's not a sane reason that this can't be done. And cost isn't the issue. People always seem to find the money to buy a gun. If this technology is added to that cost, they'll find a way to come up with that extra few bucks just like they do with security locked radios in their cars. It's just part of the cost. If you really need a gun, you'll find the money. Just like when gasoline spikes to nearly $5/gal. We grumble and grouse, maybe cut back on our driving habits, but we don't give up our cars. Well gun owners can do the same. And they'll get over it just like we gas users do.

We make automobile smog testing and attaining a certificate mandatory every two years here in California. It's a cost burden (around $75 including certificate) and inconvenience, but it's for public safety and clean air. How about asking gun owners to be responsible for public safety with their own weapons by not letting unauthorized people pick up their gun and shoot it? Think of all those young kids who discover their parents' weapons and end up shooting a sibling or neighbor kid while they're playing with it? If equipped with fingerprint recognition, those accidents won't become fatalities. They just won't happen at all.

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V2V: Conversational Vehicles and a New Rumble Seat

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TJFlintstonesCarw396h367

Written by guest contributor, "hardybear" of the wonderful Free Range Talk site:

Rumble seats were a glorious part of automobile history, what freeness of spirit they must have offered - part danger, part exhilaration - and now the high techie American automobile industry has been given the Fed green light to give our buggies voices that other cars will hear, understand and then tell the drivers whussup' after vibrating their seat.

It is called V2V technology.

Earlier this week, the National Transportation Safety Administration announced the wrap of a study promoting the mandate of this technology in American vehicles going forward. Also according to CNET:

V2V communications use a variation of the 802.11 wireless network standard used by laptops and mobile phones, but instead link cars, which can share position and speed information with each other 10 times per second. That can let one car reliably detect when another in front is braking hard, for example.

I thought the reverse gear ass-cam with a live feed of your bumper was fantastic on new dashboards. Being such a huge improvement over your semi-Pinoted-Up best friend out in the icy parking lot in a blizzard going "NO! I said back YOUR way!!" "TO MY LEFT!!!" -- right before the crash, and all. I light up like the five year-old daughter of a handy father with no sons would when I am co-pilot with that technology on board, and suspect my dear friend Jessica [frequent pilot] has a fond laugh about my wide eyes at age 52.

Image courtesy Motortrend dot com

Image courtesy Motortrend dot com

This, however, is like when Pizza Hut figured out how to put more cheese in a pie some years back, it parallels Steve Jobs giving us the iLife ... vehicles that talk to each other are a raging safety uptick for a nation with life-threatening traffic (and drivers).[/caption]

And it's just plain cool. If cars had been able to chat, kvetch and theorize during Chris Christie's GWB Waterloo re-creation slash main scandal, we could have SO much more juicy juice detail for the post-mortem, liberals!

Another large GOP Loser might feel the need to get involved and make sure there's no funny business going on though, gawd forbid the female cars collective libido becomes a lethal distraction.

TJHerbie

 

Aren't fanatical anti-modern conservatives going to just HATE this?? It hits the non-sciencey aorta, deepest spying paranoia and that disturbing general dislike of change in any form.

From NBC.

Not only will cars be able to connect with cloud-based services, they will also be able to talk to other cars; with the smartphone in the driver's pocket; with the toll booth or traffic light up ahead; or with the electric charging station to determine when and how long it needs to be fully juiced up.

 

TJrumble-seat-300x232

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"Isn’t time to bring back the slow dim zombies? Of course we still have the Tea Party for that."

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cartoon technology phones via nate fakesVia Nate Fakes

Today’s guest post is about coping with technology, by the one, the only Will Durst:

STREAMING HULU IN THE WOMB

Delivery drones that crash into telephone poles. Eyeglasses stockpiling video wherever the wearer walks. Dick Tracy wristwatches that do everything but tell time. The deeper into the future we proceed, the more obvious it becomes that this whole progress thing ain’t all its cracked up to be.

Yeah. Sure. It’s nice to have greater computing power in your pocket than accompanied Apollo to the moon, but the down side is ceding dominance in another power relationship to an inanimate object. One that keeps track of our every movement. We buy and carry our own bugs.

Indeed, we did learn how to make tomatoes mature within a month, but they taste like cardboard dipped in stagnant pond water. Placing it on the tail end of the good, the bad and the ugly of progress.

Don’t get me wrong; this is no sepia toned love letter to a romantically imagined, totally fictional yesteryear. The past was lousy. It sucked big beige banana slugs from Mars. Society was primitive, boring and unjust. And slow. Today, it’s pretty much the same, only faster. We’re all about speed. Kids are streaming Hulu in the womb.

But perhaps we’ve focused too much on the new, rather than fine- tuning the tried and the true. For instance- GPS units. Used to be only NASA had them. Now 2 are in my possession. One in the car and one on my phone. But getting lost is still in the cards because both insist on steering me over cliffs or into oncoming traffic. And not infrequently, over a cliff into oncoming traffic.

Some things don’t really needed fixing. One-cup coffee makers are fine. For people who don’t like coffee. Brewing coffee it is not a chore. It’s an art. Toilets in public rest rooms. Doubt if our grandparents were ever startled by a presumptuous automatic flush. What was wrong with the big chrome toggle on the side? You could use your foot. Seems more sanitary than an unrequested butt douche.

Proceed directly to the washbasins. Who among us hasn’t pitifully shuffled from sink to sink waving over, under, nearby the faucet base, trying to activate some randomly positioned unseen electric eye? Anyone watching on closed circuit cameras would think we’re horizontally motivated crazy persons shooing away swarms of gnats. And don’t think people aren’t watching on closed circuit cameras.

The faucets that do feature handles require engineering degrees from MIT to operate. Hot on the left, cold on the right is a distant memory. Design has finally triumphed over functionality. And beware the turbo hand dryers powered by small jet engines, which replaced the automatic paper towel dispensers triggered by shoulder and elbow movements 30 feet away.

Television. Who really needs 1000 channels? By the time you’ve gone around the horn and scoped out what you want to watch, it’s over. Of course, half the stations are flacking home gym/ juicer/ skin moisturizers that grow hair and clean your pet while the pounds melt away and your hose retracts automatically.

And zombies. Whose idea was it to come up with fast smart zombies? Zombies are supposed to trudge and meander. Zombies don’t apocalypse. They stumble. Isn’t it time to bring back the slow dim zombies? Of course we still have the Tea Party for that. Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

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Sunday Links

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Homeless Man South Carolina - Credit: The Post and Courier

Homeless Man South Carolina - Credit: The Post and Courier

South Carolina Homelessness On the Rise
(from http://www.postandcourier.com/ June 26, 2013)

Being Homeless in Downtown Columbia, South Carolina, Might Be Against the Law
(from http://www.theatlanticcities.com/ - August 23, 2013)

This is a great article - written by Neil deGrasse Tyson:
America and the Emergent Space Powers
Plus there's interesting food for thought in this article on jobs:
This Week in the War on Workers: How 'Do What You Love' Does Us Wrong

EarthFirstBlockKeystonew326h244Grandmothers Blockade Megaload in Missoula
Note: Please visit these sites:
* Earth First! Newswire and

* Wild Idaho Rising Tide

And then there's CNN. Wow, just wow...
From Daily Kos / the Guardian / the Financial Times:
"CNN recently hit a 20-year low in prime time ratings in the United States, attracting an average of just 78,000 viewers across the whole day and 98,000 in prime time."

Can this really be? 78,000 viewers across the whole day???

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