Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Phone booths — not just for Superman anymore

Most people who know me now don’t know that I had another life as a travel industry sales rep, traveling all over the city to visit accounts, most of that career in pre-cellphone days, relying on public payphones (remember those?). At one time I even lamented the disappearance of real telephone booths in favor of those open shelfless telephone shelters.

So in this cellphone era, who uses payphones? I sat in a Chinese restaurant last week with a view of a phone booth(?) on the corner of 35th and 8th and watched as a woman put her stuff down, and shading herself from the sun, proceeded to use the phone-enclosure to talk on her cell phone. So those payphone areas still serve as shelters from rain and sun, even if not as a dressing room for Superman.

By the way, if there are any briefcase-lugging, brochure-carrying, sales reps still out there, I can still give good suggestions for spots to comfortably climate-controllably make a phone call and even to use the restrooms without asking for a key or having to purchase a $5 latte. I’ve been around.all around Manhattan. I have the fallen arches to show for it.

Cars of the future

I was walking down the 6th this morning, when I saw a guy come and get into his Mercedes, start it and drive away – without using a key at all. Now i know keyless cars have been around for some time now and are picking up the buzz, but it didnt stop me from wondering – How does this technology work?

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For starters, this is what i found on some popular auto sites –
“It lets drivers unlock cars by just walking up to them and touching a door handle. Drivers don’t need to push a button on their vehicle’s key fob or even take the fob out of their purse or pocket.
Mercedes, which is a pioneer in what it calls Keyless Go technology, offers the system on at least five 2005 vehicles, which is more than any other carmaker.
Option price is more than $1,000 on a Mercedes S430, but it’s just over $900 on Toyota’s Prius. In the Infiniti M cars, it’s standard. ”

But here is my question – The driver has to carry this “fob” thing with him to be able to unlock the car and do the magic. What if he/she forgot the fob, like we all forget our keys? I was thinking more on the lines of fingerprint technology. Would our future cars be keyless and operate/unlock based on just fingerprint recognition? That way, we eliminate the idea of carrying an irritating fob altogether? I dont know if this technology already has been implemented by some manufacturer? The technology exists – it is just putting it to the best benefit, that makes all the difference i guess!

Musicmakers Meetup

kirn.jpg Last night, Etsy Labs, in conjunction with MAKE and Create Digital Music, played host to the first Musicmaker Meetup. The gathering welcomed all those interested in music, electronics, circuit bending, open source technology, and just tinkering in general. Artists were invited to participate and bring their own projects, or simply enjoy the fruits of others’ labor. I chose the latter path, as my forays into Nanoloop aren’t quite ready for prime time.

A cigar box guitar connected to a Ritz box amp was slouched against one wall, while a man near the stage tended to an clothes iron and board, ready to connect to his laptop. The space was alive with the joy of curiosity, as artists toured their creations with an enraptured audience. Throwing one’s hands in a pit of slime (dubbed the Slime-A-Tron), and hearing the music it produces is a truly rare experience.

In a world where a subculture or a niche market can constitute a great number of people, exciting things start to happen. No matter who you are and what you like, there’s a group of people out their who like the things you do. It’s both comforting and exciting to meet those people, to be able to express yourself and be met with a nod of understanding. When you can do that, and play with a Frankensteinian Speak & Spell, well, you’re really living the good life.

Check out more pics! Also, at the Create Digital Music photopool.

Local School Goes Green

173px-Recycle001.svg.pngI am a Westchester boy thru and thru… Raised in the thriving city of White Plains, about 25 miles north of Manhattan, I like to keep tabs on what’s going on back home and what new buildings are popping up in the growing town. With that interest, I have heard about a really cool new initiative at one of the WP elementary schools…

According to LoHud.com, the nearly century-old Post Road school in White Plains will be getting a face lift and much more. It will be redesigned and will reopen in 2009 as a fully green building, including geothermal heat, lower flow toilets and sinks, recycled core materials, and grass-topped roofs. The company who designed the new features says that the benefits are two-fold. First, it is an effort to cut the overconsumption that runs rampant through our country and also a true step in the right direction to reduce dependence on foreign fuel sources. Secondly, it will serve as a fantastic example to the children who make the building their second home. I have a vested interested in this particular school, as my sister is a teacher there.

I always love to hear stories like this. While Westchester was a fantastic place to grow up, it is nice to see that as it becomes more and more densely populated, it is improving itself and becoming an even better place to live. I hope that NYC schools see this as a challenge to step up, but of course a suburban budget is always much friendlier to projects like this.

Know of any other really cool “green” projects going on around the area?

Call Me!

Check this out!

It’s a very cool new system which will combine all of your numbers. Set up Grand Central with all of your numbers: home, office, cellular, 2nd cellular, blackberry cellular, mom’s number, whatever. Give everyone you know the one number assigned to you by Grand Central. They call that number, it’ll ring you everywhere.
This is, of course, only if you want to be reached everywhere you go. Of course, if you have 5 cell numbers, you probably DO want to be reached everywhere.
Frankly, it’s the features of Grand Central which make it so desirable, from the “listen in on voicemail” feature to the selection of muzak to customized voice messages you can have for individual callers (like, “Hey, mom, sorry I missed your call but I was busy with Tricia. You know Tricia, the woman who will never be good enough for your only boy? That one. We were busy doing it in the backseat of the car so leave me a message”).
So, like I said, check it out. I’m toying with the idea of getting it but, as I only have work and cell, I would hope that people aren’t having the hardest time remembering my numbers.

Excubo

As a frequent passenger on Chinatown’s various life-threatening methods of transportation up north, I find my biggest concern is not death, but lack of sleep. Four to eight hours with little more than an iPod to keep me company is prime snoozing real estate. However, even my penchant for going comatose in any moving vehicle is put to the test by these rumbling tanks of doom.

Enter Excubo: “A jacket for sleeping on public transportation.” It, apparently, works on the theory that one sleeps better when the body is kept stiff. I buy it, and either way, it’d be worth it for the extra large collar/black out shade. I suspect it might be a gambit to try this thing out on the subway, but I’ll definitely Triple Dog Dare someone if I get a hold of one.

New Yorker joins the YouTube Generation

The New Yorker’s new look comes with a brand new feature. All those classic New Yorker cartoons you love…they’re all animated now! It seems they’ve developed their own type of YouTube and added voices, music, color, and most importantly moving animation to their hilarious comics!

My life is now complete.

The Beta Bug

Going to Best buy and picking a monitor was out of my options today, especially with the kind of sudden cold weather and a busy schedule. I therefore decided to order the monitor online, using google Checkout. I did place the order but when I tried logging into the account again, I got a weird error screen. Obviously google has not updated their error screens for quite sometime or Maybe I just was lucky/unlucky to get this screen? But I loved using Google Checkout though!

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iPod and Cell Phone Ban in NYC?!?

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From the department of “Don’t you have some ACTUAL crime to stop” comes this proposed bill to fine people $100 for crossing a major New York intersection while using a portable electronic device. This from the city that can’t even seem to combat jay-walking–right, sure. I’m just as frustrated as the next person by those oblivious morons who can’t seem to talk on the phone/listen to music and function at the same time (dubbed “iPod Oblivion”–heh!), by why punish those of us that actually have an IQ high enough to allow us to walk, chew gum and listen to music at the same time? In fact, sometimes these distractions are the only things that make walking the street a tolerable experience. I say we let Darwin sort out the ones that can’t handle this type of multi-tasking. This is a flat-out ridiculous proposal–what the hell is with the banning blitz going on in NYC right now?

Bill Banning iPods in Crosswalks slated for Albany [wCBStv via Gizmodo]

Photo from Awera’s photostream

Webcams

times_square_webcam.jpgAs I lay here in my warm, cozy bed, recovering from a late night last night (and dreaming about a McDonald’s hamburger — best hangover cure), I’m wondering how the weather is. Is it raining, snowing, sunny? Is it warm, mild, or the face-wrapping cold that I heard was on the way?

Some smart person once said, “If you want to know how the weather is, go stick your head out the window!” Well, I’m just too lazy to go do that right now. I could look up the weather at the various weather sites, but they can only give me numbers…they can’t give me a true view of how things are. They can tell me that it’s 27 degrees out, and that it feel like 16 degrees, but they can’t tell me if that 16 degrees is a warm 16 degrees or a cold 16 degrees. They can tell me that if there was snow and how much accumulation there was, but they can’t tell me if I need to wear my small boots or my big boots.

For situations like this, I prefer to take a look at one of the city’s many webcams.
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