Babies and Barcodes

A science fiction writer has proposed that everyone be given a barcode at birth.  The technology for this has existed for a decade.  Other variations, such as barcode tattoos, have also been seen more recently.

The main benefit to this would be identification – although many other purposes could exist – such as payment for services.  Do you see human barcodes as a benefit or unnecessary?  Would you be interested in obtaining one for yourself?

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Robotic Tutoring

Carnegie Mellon recently tried using software to supplement traditional education in hybrid classes and found that in addition to reducing cost, students preformed just as well, if not better.  Although drawbacks included the lack of interaction and perceptions of reduced performance by the students.

The increase in distance education and online learning has indicated that college teaching is changing.  Have you taken online course before?  How would you feel about being tutored by a robot?  Would your feelings change if you occasionally saw an instructor?  never saw an instructor?

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Facial Detection at Local Bars

When heading out to a local bar, would it be good to know how crowded they already were?   What about the male/female ratio?  The makers of an App called SceneTap thought it would be useful.  In major cities such as San Francisco and Chicago, the start-up installed cameras at entrances and exits of bars to detect gender and body count and displayed the live statistics on a map.

As we have seen often with the development of new technologies, there are privacy concerns.  Would your decision to attend a venue be affected if this technology was in place?  If so, would you be more or less likely to visit the establishment?

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Unlimited data?

Rising use of data on mobile devices caused cellular phone companies to end “unlimited” plans; although previous subscribers were often “grandfathered” and therefore allowed to continue the service.  This also happened with the iPad.  However, Verizon has recently decided to end the grandfathered plan this summer.

How will this affect consumers?  A recent study has shown that while data usage has considerably risen, few users are exceeding their plan amounts.  It is also likely that new Apps – which often significantly decrease data usage compared to completing the same tasks with a Web browser – will continue to be developed.  Although users are getting more out of their tiered plans, both Verizon and At&T made over 6 billion dollars (each) last year on data plans alone.

Verizon offers a calculator for the purpose of estimating data usage.  It’s an interesting tool; my usage estimate came in under 2 GB.  Do you use data on a mobile device?  How has your usage changed overtime?  Do you anticipate that rate changes will affect your future usage?

Note: See my previous post on declining cell phone revenue from changes in text message habits.

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Windows 8 Preview

Windows 8 has been rumored to be launched in October 2012.  A preview reveals that a significant portion of the user interface (AERO glass: Authentic, Energetic, Reflective, and Open) has been removed.  AERO glass is graphic intensive and one of the most notable differences with Windows Vista (and also Windows 7).  This change is intended to remove clutter and distraction.

Microsoft’s blog post presents a visual history of the user interface.  I encourage you to check it out!  What operating systems are you familiar with?  Do you see the Windows 8 preview as an improvement?

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Is Chrome the most used Web Browser?

Launched in 2008, Google Chrome has now become the most used Web browser, worldwide.  Since 1995, Web browsers have competed for market dominance.  Chrome surpassed Mozilla Firefox, which has previously surpassed Internet Explorer.

What Web Browser do you use to surf the Internet?  Do you remember when Netscape Navigator Navigator was the post popular browser?  you were to create a new web browser, what changes would you make?

UPDATE: Microsoft disputes these findings.

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The Wall between Facebook and the Classroom

Two weeks ago the State of New York set standards on how public school teachers can contact their students through technology such as text messages and social networking sites such as Twitter.  Many have found the policies, which forbid most direct electronic contact, to be harsh.

Days later a High School Principal is Missouri resigned after being caught creating a fake Facebook account to become “friends” with her students and their parents.  The High School where she served since 2005 did have a social media policy which allowed electronic communications for professional purposes only.

Should she have been praised for keeping an eye out for the students or penalized for violating their privacy and trust?  What do you think is an acceptable policy for electronic students and faculty at the high school level?  at the college level?

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Automated Dorm Room

A Freshman studying electrical engineering and computer science at Berkeley has created an automated dorm room complete with voice-automated light control and an automatic party mode.  He was inspired by an MIT student who created a similar room in 2006.

What features would you want to include in an automated room or house?

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Texting: Declining Revenue or Saving Lives?

Facebook is frequently in the news.  This week that included further data on the decline of text messages due to Facebook messenger.  This could cause one to wonder if text messages become the next relic like landlines and snail mail?  Many predict it is unlikely text messages will be eliminated over this decline due to the sheer volume of current usage.

Clearly, Verizon sees a future in text messages as they plan to implement a “text to 911” service where those in need could text for emergency response.  I think most, if not all, of us could agree that emergency services shouldn’t be limited by antiquated technology.   Black Hawk County, Iowa is currently the only location in the US were text messages can be received by 911.

Can you think of other technologies that could be implemented by 911 and be used enough to offset the cost of increasing infrastructure?

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Are Common Phrases Always Common?

I’ve noticed a number of blogs recently discussing how many icons on the computer represent technologies that are no longer in common use.  Examples include the floppy disk representing save, cassette tapes representing voicemail, and cc (carbon copy) indicating an additional recipient to an e-message.

In a broad sense, this is not a new discussion.  Although the topic itself may be unique, there have been similar discussions regarding common expressions.  In the car, we store items in the glove box, we tell others we are going to hang up when we want to end a telephone call, and we consider ourselves to be burning the midnight oil when we stay up all night working on an impeding deadline.

With any topic area, the end question is usually the same: should these be replaced?  Or, would it be more confusing to adapt to a new language as technology changed?  Do common phrases from one era simply become common phrases in other due to over use?

When I was in High School I had a dictionary of cliches and I always thought it was interesting to see how today’s usage of a snappy one-liner was different – or even in contridiction to – it’s original use.

In using the computer, have you come across any phrases that are no longer in use?  Are there any common phrases or icons in use on the computer today where you are not familiar with the original technology?

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