And so Gattica begins …
For anyone who has not seen the movie Gattica, I can only suggest they they rent it and watch. It includes a wide range of very interesting perspectives on the implications of our advances in understanding genetics, and some of the social and community issues that will develop. One of the core conflicts is that of unstoppable genetic discrimination …

We are on the verge of having some of the technology to create many of the scenarios that are shown in Gattica … at one point in the movie they even show a “corner store” that provides instant genetic analysis. Although this seems sophisticated and a ways off, the ability of a corporation to do this type of analysis – even if it takes days – is just around the corner. The article below shows that this is something coming quickly … and Gattica explains why these types of laws are going to be difficult to enforce. Go rent the movie …

Insurers barred from using genetic tests. The Times Oct 23 2001 6:32PM ET [Genetics news]

New form factors of the personal computer …
For years we have witnessed the slow evolution (or fast evolution?) of the personal computer. We started with the first IBM PC that was a large box with full-height 5.25″ floppy disks. That machine has not evolved into a variety of desktop and tower designs, and of course we now have laptops and notebooks of all shapes and sizes.

We are about to watch as people become aware of new form factors that computers are taking … and Microsoft is again going to lead this revolution. This article outlines what Microsoft is creating for the future … and what they are guiding other companies to develop. I believe that we are going to see more and more “Human Integrated” computing in the near future … and it will surprise a lot of people …

InfoWorld: Microsoft’s Tablet PC a year away. Microsoft’s super thin portable computer, called the Tablet PC, will be available in the second half of 2002, Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates said Tuesday, and the company has begun giving developers the software they need to build applications for the device. [Tomalak’s Realm]

Indoor Location Systems are coming … via 802.11b?
I am truly impressed with this project out of UCLA. It is addressing a very powerful area of “Indoor Location Services” … allowing a user to locate themselves within a building similar to how GPS can tell you your location outdoors.

Ok … so the technology and techniques are quite different, but the capability of locating yourself within a building – accurately – is now becoming a reality. And how are they doing it? With Orinoco 802.11b access points and cards!

This project is using the statistics available from a Orinoco 802.11b wireless card to create a “map” of locations and the associated access point signals detected at those locations. As a user roams around they can create a “fingerprint” of the signals detected at that location. Later, as they roam around the building, the application can tell where they are by the map that they created.

This is very impressive for a number of reasons, and gets me interested in downloading and running this. I’m downloading it now …

The UCLA Nibble Project

RSS continues to grow and be recognized …
This is a cool little application that was created to support RSS new feeds. It allows a user to specify a set of feeds to monitor, and then gathers the new articles and provides an interface that can launch a web browser to read the full article.

This is yet more information indicating the growing interest and support for RSS format publishing.

HotSheet 0.90 alpha. A cross-platform RSS news reader with a friendly GUI. []

It’s all about replication … genetics is a good example!
When looking at the classic argument about centralized control and storage vs. distributed approaches, it’s easy to fall into the “trap” about the supposed benefits of the centralized approach. People will often talk about the “single copy” and “only one play to go for access”. They will also talk about “having to manage all of those copies” as though this is an issue.

What is interesting is that there are many lessons around us that show the disadvantages of centralized approaches … from the former Soviet Union to stories about the companies that centralized all of there computer data in the World Trade Center … backing it up to the other tower.

In looking at this situation I often reflect on the biological evolved systems all around us … and I have to say that one of the most sophisticated of these indicates that replication and copies is a valuable implementation … the Human Body!

Where does your body store the “blueprint” for the body? In one centralized place? No … it stores this in the genetic material in every single cell. Storing a copy of this critical information in every cell in the body could be looked at as inefficient, wasteful, and potentially dangerous. Another way to look at this is that it offers the most effective way to empower any cell to become anything that contributes to the whole. It prevents the cells from having to reference some “central authority” to determine their purpose.

To me … synchronization and replication are the way to go … and some folks at MIT seem to agree that the net is mirroring this direction.

MIT Technology Review: Super Sync. Instead of ubiquitous connectivity to centralized databanks, we are instead building an infrastructure that’s optimized for data replication. The same information is getting copied to dozens, hundreds or even thousands of places throughout the world… [Tomalak’s Realm]

The place for finding syndication …
This is a very cool site that has a focus on gathering and categorizing RSS syndicated content. It’s a cool concept, and they are setting up the structures to be very successful. I wonder when Google might catch on and do something in this space …

Syndic8.Com is kickin butt. It’s great to see a community develop around this stuff.  [Scripting News]

From mail to e-mail … from travel to e-travel?
I too agree that these anthrax mail scares are going to make people think about mail and “junk” mail. One of the areas that I wondered are what new lawsuits might erupt from this whole affair?

One area will be companies that “force” a person to accept mail. For example, if you receive bills for services from a vendor – say your credit card bill, or electric bill – and they do not offer an alternative e-mailed e-bill, then are they potentially endangering your life by “forcing” you to accept potentially lethal mail?

E-mail a savior amid anthrax scare. Use of e-mail could skyrocket as an ever-widening anthrax investigation turns “snail mail” into a suspicious and potentially lethal form of communication. [CNET Tech News]

But what about privacy when speaking to your devices?
One of the things that I have found using wearable computers and various devices is that there are times that you want privacy. Using voice recognition is difficult in a loud place filled with other conversations and most of the current systems are not the best at discriminating a voice, unless it is by the loudness. There are, in addition, times that I want to be able to interact with my computer privately without others being aware. For example, I might be working on business applications, wanting to call someone and keep the name private, or I might want to be making “notes” to my computer while interacting with another person.

All of these, IMHO, indicate that computer interaction can be by voice, but only for a small segment of the interaction that I want to have.

Speaking of Voice Recognition. Intel, Microsoft and other top technology companies form a group to develop speech-enabled software that will allow communication without pushing buttons. Elisa Batista reports from Mountain View, California. [Wired News]

An Open Source Wearable Computer software project …
This appears to be a cool little project exploring the various UI aspects and human interactions of wearable computers. I’m not quite able to understand some of the objectives yet, however I am going to keep reading … I like the direction of this project.

I also found some very good links and references through this site … I really like Nooface … and I had not heard that Steve Mann had a movie – Cyberman made about his life and his experiences.

jAugment 2.3.134 (Unstable). A software infrastructure for wearable computers. []

Why our project can rule!
I spoke with Stewart at one of the Telecosm conferences, and we talked about the subject of viable business models. At that point I suggested that both Metricom and Mobilestar were on interesting paths that I could not see sustainable. Both of these organizations have run into extreme trouble. In my opinion Metricom went off track with it’s proprietary solution, and Mobilestar was never going to be able to finance the deployment of an “owned” infrastructure.

My team and I have developed a much different business model … and we are looking to deploy the first tests around the time of the Olympics here in Utah. Keep watching

Stewart Alsop: “Wireless rocks! Wireless stinks!”  [Scripting News]