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October 2005

October 31, 2005
Text Messaging Boosts Teen Writing Ability

A Cambridge University study has found that text messaging has boosted the ability of teenagers to write. The study found that "today's teenagers are using far more complex sentence structures, a wider vocabulary and a more accurate use of capital letters, punctuation and spelling."

That's the good news. The bad news is that they're also "ten times more likely to use non-standard English in written exams than in 1980, using colloquial words, informal phrases and text-messaging shorthand - such as m8 for 'mate', 2 instead of 'too' and u for 'you'."

The study, of course, was conducted on UK teenagers. American kids are most likely similarly transformed by their obsessive use of instant messaging, rather than texting (and are ten times less likely to use the word "mate").

I would also guess that American teens can type faster than any previous generation in history.

Enjoy it now, because new technologies will inevitably come along any minute now that will make communication possibly without typing and without writing -- and those skills will be tossed aside for good.

Posted by Mike Elgan at 10:33 AM | Permalink | Comments

October 29, 2005
Treo 650 Music Docking Station?

Move over iPod snobs, with your fancy gadget aftermarket of music docking stations. We Treo 650 smart phone snobs now have one of our own. The Treo 650 Music Dock charges and connects (for PC synchronization) your Treo, and plays music either from the Treo or from an external music source (the dock sports a 3.5mm stereo input jack).

Does it provide rich, full sound? At $32, probably not. Still, it's a cool idea and I want one.

(via Techie Diva's Guide to Gadgets)

Posted by Mike Elgan at 02:28 PM | Permalink | Comments

October 27, 2005
Don't Believe Everything Your GPS Tells You

Two Australian tourists in New Zealand found out the hard way that you can't always rely on GPS to give you the best route. The visitors rented a car from Avis, which comes with a GPS system, plugged in their destination and drove where the gadget told them to drive.

The system guided them through a ten-hour, death-defying journey into hell: through rivers, fog and perilous and narrow mountain passes terminating at a locked-gate dead end high in the mountains.

. . . Full Story: "Don't Believe Everything Your GPS Tells You"

Posted by Mike Elgan at 09:21 AM | Permalink | Comments

October 26, 2005
My Favorite Fantasy iPod

Apple's iPod is cool enough -- especially the new one. Detractors belittle the device, saying that it's nothing more than a hard disk with a play button.

The iPod lovers and the iPod haters will disagree, but there's no denying the design influence Apple's music player has had over other music players, over other consumer electronics and over a large variety of random products.

. . . Full Story: "My Favorite Fantasy iPod"

Posted by Mike Elgan at 06:02 PM | Permalink | Comments

October 17, 2005
Does Google Aid Terrorists?

Google's success has recently made it the target of quite a bit of criticism. But here's the most extreme yet: The President of India has warned that Google Earth may help terrorists by providing them with satellite photos of potential targets.

. . . Full Story: "Does Google Aid Terrorists?"

Posted by Preston Gralla at 07:37 AM | Permalink | Comments

October 13, 2005
Drive For More Storage Hits Even The PSP

Storage is cheap and getting cheaper all the time, which is driving up user expectations about just how much storage we "need." The mania for storage is hitting even Sony's diminutive PlayStation Portable (PSP). Datel is reportedly planning to ship later this month a 4 GB clip-on hard drive for the PSP, complete with kludgy add-on battery.

Is 4 GB enough? Of course not! Companies will start competing with each other to launch bigger and ever bigger hard drives. I think PSP owners will say "bring it on!"

Posted by Mike Elgan at 01:57 PM | Permalink | Comments

October 10, 2005
Stanford Wins!

Silicon Valley's Stanford University won the 132-mile, $2 million 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge autonomous vehicle robot race over the weekend.

The race was conceived and organized by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) -- the same folks who brought us a little thing called the Internet.

The Pentagon wants an unmanned car that can drive all by itself through a battlefield to deliver supplies, shoot at the enemy and rescue wounded soldiers -- all without human intervention.

Research groups all over the world have been trying to achieve this feat for decades -- without success.

DARPA figured -- correctly -- that the quickest way to achieve this unprecedented capability was to turn America's geniuses loose on the project in an open contest. The DARPA Grand Challenge promise a million dollars to the fastest robot-car across the finish line in the desert last year (none finished, nobody won the prize) and two million dollars this year. Four vehicles finished and 18 did not.

The Stanford Racing Team's "Stanley," a modified Volkswagen Touareg R5, finished with a time of six hours and 53 minutes.

If you haven't seen these cars in action, here is some really good video. Note that the cars are NOT remote-controlled. Onboard sensors and computers are doing ALL of the driving (the cars following can only shut down a car if it threatens public safety).

Posted by Mike Elgan at 12:07 AM | Permalink | Comments

October 06, 2005
Trojan Hits Sony PlayStation Portable

Symantec is alerting the press that it has identified the first trojan virus that targets Sony Playstation Portable game devices. The trojan, called Trojan.PSPBrick, is a "Category 1" threat (Category 5 being the worst), which is circulating in the wild, although there are no confirmed infections, according to Symantec.

Only Sony-approved games can run on the PSP without specially written unauthorized software. Hacks, however, allow users to run their own games. Trojan.PSPBrick presents itself as such a hack. Once downloaded and installed, the hack deletes system files and disables the PSP device.

Posted by Mike Elgan at 02:13 PM | Permalink | Comments

October 04, 2005
Will Free Google WiFi Kill Local Newspapers?

There's been a lot of speculation that Google's bid to provide free WiFi is aimed at telecoms and ISPs. But the real target may be your local newspaper, already hard hit by electronic media. Could it push some local papers into the financial abyss?

. . . Full Story: "Will Free Google WiFi Kill Local Newspapers?"

Posted by Preston Gralla at 08:02 AM | Permalink | Comments

October 03, 2005
Paranoia And Google World Domination

News that Google wants to provide free city-wide Wi-Fi service in San Francisco has brought out the paranoids, claiming that the company's goal is world domination. I'm guessing, though, that its goals are somewhat less grandiose.

. . . Full Story: "Paranoia And Google World Domination"

Posted by David Haskin at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments


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