Posts filed under “Technology”

I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me

Here in the northeast/midatlantic, we have an automatic toll collection system known as E-Z Pass:

E-ZPass® is an electronic toll collection system, which takes cash, coins and toll tickets out of the toll collection process. Instead, drivers establish an account, prepay tolls and attach a small electronic device to their vehicles. Tolls are automatically deducted from the prepaid account as an E-ZPass® customer passes through the toll lane.

I’ve used the E-Z Pass system since its inception, and cannot envision myself sitting on line to pay a toll ever again.  In that regard, it is a godsend.

I have, however, often wondered when law enforcement might begin to use the E-Z Pass system to target speeders.  Say, for example you enter an E-Z Pass enabled highway at Point X and exit the highway at Point Y.  The distance between Point X and Point Y is 80 miles, but you traveled that distance in only an hour.  Could be a problem, as the E-Z Pass system knows when and where you entered and when and where you exited.  This seems to me like a no-brainer for law enforcement — and it’s indisputable (absent mechanical error) that you averaged 80 MPH.

And, indeed, as I poked around the interwebs today, I came across the following Orwellian Q & A at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (emphasis in the answer is mine).  It appears that point-to-point is, in fact, becoming a reality (via camera now, perhaps via systems like E-Z Pass soon) and, even scarier, there is another system being examined that could work to remotely slow your vehicle down:

21. Are there other technologies that could aid in enforcing speed limits in both urban and suburban areas?

Two emerging technologies are being used to enforce speed limits. Intelligent speed adaptation links a position of the traveling vehicle via Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and computerized maps with speed limits to determine if the vehicle is speeding. The system may work as an advisory system for the driver or an intervention system that automatically reduces the vehicle’s speed to comply with the speed limit. Point-to-point speed camera technology records the time it takes a vehicle to travel between two camera locations to compute an average speed and compare it to the posted speed limit. This system uses optical recognition technology to match the two photographed vehicle license plates. Point-to-point speed cameras are being used to enforce the speed limit on the Hume Freeway in Victoria, Australia. In the UK, point-to-point speed camera systems are known as “Distributed Average Speed” camera systems and have received government approval.

Scary stuff.

On a somewhat related note, I’ve read several stories about GPS-enabled trucks hitting overpasses because the drivers were navigating via the device without regard for the limitations of the roadways (which are always posted) that were being suggested.  It happens in my neck of the woods fairly frequently (many of the roads and overpasses are ancient), and GPS-navigation is usually at the root of the problem.  Unintended consequences.

Category: Technology

Taxonomy of the iPhone

Very cool deconstruction of the iPhone, and the universe that supports it. > via Ben Millen

Category: Technology, Web/Tech

Tidal Electrical Generation

With all of the focus on the Cape Cod Wind Farm, I wanted to remind people of other ways to generate electricity via the ocean, using tidal forces. Have a look at this terrific animated graphic in the NYT: > click for animation > Source: Generating Electricity by Going With the Flow MIKA GRÖNDAHL and…Read More

Category: Energy, Technology


Way cool: Pixels by Patrick Jean (This far after 9/11, I still find it disturbing seeing NYC buildings come down) Written, directed by : Patrick Jean From: OneMoreProduction PIXELS is Patrick Jean’ latest short film, shot on location in New York. (Is the soundtrack Naïve New Beaters “L.A. trumpets”?)

Category: Technology, Weekend

Stellar iPad Reviews

The reviews of the iPad are out, and they are pretty outrageous. If you are afraid of arousing any consumer lust, steer clear of them. • WSJ Walt Mossberg: Calls it a ‘Game Changer’ that pretty close to a “Laptop Killer.” • NYT’s David Pogue: Techies will hate it, everyone else will love it. “a…Read More

Category: Technology

Infinite Stackable USB Cables

How cool is this, from Gonglue Jiang, a desing student at Zhejiang University: > via Design Fetish

Category: Technology, Web/Tech, Weekend

As previously noted, Verizon has been very obnoxiously spraying unwanted services and icons on my Blackberry desktop.

I am sure somewhere in the unreadable fine print we gave permission for this garbage, but that doesn’t make this any less obnoxious, and it doesn’t make Verizon any less of a giant telecom douchebag for doing this.

At the time we last mentioned this, the solution was to hide the icon. A better solution would be to leave Verizon, but for some of us (NYC), the alternatives are not better.

There seems to be a better solution, found by Ned — simply follow these steps:

1. Go to Options (the wrench on my BlackBerry)
2. Advanced options
3. Service Book
4. Select Bing or Slacker Radio, or whatever
5. Left Click (Blackberry button)
6. Delete

Your phone is now yours — until the next Verizon hijack . . .

Read More

Category: Really, really bad calls, Technology

How NOT To Use Powerpoint

This is hysterical: A funny PowerPoint Presentation about PowerPoint Presentations from comedian Don McMillan via boingboing

Category: Technology, Weekend

Bill Gates on energy: Innovating to zero!

At TED2010, Bill Gates unveils his vision for the world’s energy future, describing the need for “miracles” to avoid planetary catastrophe and explaining why he’s backing a dramatically different type of nuclear reactor. The necessary goal? Zero carbon emissions globally by 2050.

Category: Energy, Technology, Video

Sony Bravia LCD/Blu-ray Combo: $850 (free delivery)

The TV in the bedroom — the one we got as a wedding present 17 years ago — started giving out a month or two ago. Its now in its final death throes. We should really put her out of her misery, and put her down . . . Its the humane thing to do….Read More

Category: Technology, Television