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New 2.0

Taking a second look atthe news so you don’t have to

New Web Provides Battery-powered Option

You’ve probably been reading a lot about the PlanetLab Consortium (150-universities-and-research-labs-large, and growing) and all the bells and whistles that will be included in the new, planetary-scale Internet, such as a new overlay network with intelligent routers and servers, decentralized and self-organizing applications, higher-level functionalities, and more. Sounds like something that most of earth’s 6 billion mortals could get used to.

What you might not have heard is that researchers are also proposing a very low-tech method to ensure that those with modest incomes, as well as those who reside in remote areas, will be able to benefit from the New World Internet. Their grand plan gives a very dignified role to battery-operated devices. According to Pat Gelsinger at Intel, such low-tech devices could support new kinds of device and in-network storage that would mitigate disruptions and delays in these transactions. All you have to do is save from your battery-operated computer to the almighty network.

Perhaps this fail-safe option is something that neighboring high-tech countries might want to consider importing.



There Nothing Like a Map

Everybody likes to look at maps. Whether you painstakingly examine the yellowed and badly folded roadmap in the glove compartment of your rent-a-car sedan or download a pinhead-size zone of the world’s largest atlas via Microsoft’s TerraServer, you can’t deny the feeling of satisfaction that an eagle-eye perspective of the world provides you. But maps that simply show the location of things are so 2003.

Nowadays, however, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) can apply realtime weather data to such “old-school” maps to provide highly detailed, up-to-the-minute weather information on whether or not a storm is heading in your direction. In recent months, for example, thousands were able to find safe haven from several devastating hurricanes (Charlie, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne, and still counting). All they had to do was look at an online update to track the storm’s path (past, present, and projected).

Don’t rest all of your hopes on the Mapping and Analysis Center (MAC) just yet; it’s not operational 24/7. For the big picture you still have to stay tuned to your local weather station for some critical updates.



Shall I Compare Thee to a Big Squeeze?

Researchers at the Play Studio of Sweden’s Interactive Institute have come up with a cuddly way for loved ones to exchange affection via a remote connection. Just hug your Wi-Fi–connected pillow, and electroluminescent fibers in your partner’s pillow will light up with an emotive glow—any hour of the day or night.

Everlasting love is never that easy, however. For any relationship to flourish via this new technology, both parties have to deal with carrying an adult-size pillow everywhere. While these connected pillows provide opportunities to express affection remotely, they likewise can result in the experience of feeling neglected.



Linux Support: A Black Hole?

Even the most devout open-sourcer will concede that the primary strength of the movement lies in the security and quality of its software. Support, it might be argued, has taken a backseat in this “do-it-yourself” world. In fact, a recent headline in the mainstream technology press proclaimed Linux support “a black hole.” Bombastic? Yes. But is it true? It may be up to commercial Linux distributions such as Red Hat and SuSE to step up their game in the Linux support area if Linux is to make real inroads with the less-tech-savvy general public.

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Originally published in Queue vol. 2, no. 8
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