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Archive for the ‘Technology and Software’ Category

Invisibility, a distict possibility

Posted by Luminus on May 26, 2006

Invisible Man, Harry's Potter invisible cloak and everything that is related to invisibility, might be very reachable. Why? Because this is what the latest "science-news"say.

Imagine being able to put on a cloak and disappear, all Harry Potter fans know what I'm talking about. That'd be cool for sneaky pranks, except that's not what it'd be used for. More like, bank robbery, assassinations and the likes, what is the world coming to.

It seems to me that everythin gyou invent for a good reason has 10 times more criminal / evil uses that readily come to mind.

What is the world turning to. Check out the this link for more detail.

Lemme know what you think.

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Posted in Technology and Software | 3 Comments »

MyChi(TM) – Apparell for Athletic Enhancement

Posted by Luminus on May 26, 2006

A new line of clothing and accessories that provides acupuncture and
acupressure to specific points across the body was reported by .
This just-recently patented line of clothing developed by the New York
College of Health Professions will be used in sports to enhance an
athlete’s performance and “can also be used to reduce motion sickness,
help in weight reduction and assist in smoking cessation” says Donald
Spector, Chairman of Trustees of New York College of Health Professions
and a well-known inventor.

“Imagine it’s the ninth inning, the score tied, you are one
run up but bases are loaded with no outs. I wouldn’t want to be the
pitcher,” says Lisa Pamintuan, who years ago played at Wimbledon and
the U.S. Open and is now President of New York College, the 25-year-old
pioneering institution of Holistic Health (
“However, hopefully, our baseball cap will make situations like this a
little easier. All athletes look for ways to enhance their performance,
whether on the field or the tennis court. I wish I had worn this line
of clothing when I was playing at Wimbledon as a 16-year-old. I would
have been able to press the acupressure points in the clothing, like my
sweatbands, and I would have been able to be either energized when I
was tired, or relaxed when it was a tight match.”…

Since Acupressure is also good for relieving pain this
product will be great for the weekend warrior as well as the
professional athlete. Whether addressing young athletes or seniors this
line will have broad usage. The College also sees the line extending to
recreational sports such as golf which opens the market to brands like
Polo, Sean John, Calvin Klein and department store and mass
merchandiser brands…

The College will launch this new line of clothing and accessories under the brand name MyChi(TM)..

Check out the press release here

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Scientists harness the power of pee

Posted by Luminus on May 24, 2006

pee power A urine powered battery the size of a credit card has been invented by Singapore researchers.

A drop of urine generates 1.5 volts, the equivalent of one AA battery, says Dr Ki Bang Lee of the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

He says the technology could provide a disposable power source for electronic diagnostic devices that test urine and other body fluids for diseases like diabetes.

These currently need lithium batteries or external power sources. But with this system, the body fluid being tested could power the unit itself.

Lee, who reports the new battery in the latest Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, says a smaller version could potentially power mobile phones in emergencies.

How does it work ?
The battery is made of a layer of filter paper steeped in copper chloride sandwiched between strips of magnesium and copper, then laminated in plastic.

It's activated when a drop of urine is placed on the battery. The urine soaks through the paper providing the necessary conditions to generate electricity.

The magnesium acts as the battery's anode, shedding its electrons, while the copper chloride acts as the cathode, gathering them up.

This electron flow delivers power greater than 1.5 milliwatts, the researchers say.

CSIRO research physicist Dr Cathy Foley says the research is important because it raises the possibility of having a self-powered device.

She says the technology could be used in what are known as biomicroelectromechanical systems, or bioMEMS.

Examples of bioMEMs include nanomachines that seek out and destroy cancer cells or cholesterol, or DNA chips with DNA as electronic components.

The technology could also be used to power drug-testing kits, she says.

Foley says the concept could work using any body fluid including semen, blood or tears, as long as the fluid isn't neutral at pH 7.

Urine, for instance, has a range of pH 4.5 to 8.0, according to the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia.

Is it practical?
Foley says the energy generated by the urine-powered battery would be enough to keep a digital wristwatch or a scientific calculator going, but anything bigger would be impractical.

"You could probably increase the power by having more of them and loading them up," she says.

"[For power on a large scale] you'd probably have to coat the whole of Australia in this paper-based electrode and wee on it."

Now, this is a really cool one for people like me who can pee up to a whole gallon at once (don't I just wish). Charge my cell phone with urine? Whoa! now that's another good use for it other than wetting the flowers. 

Imagine thism there's an emergency, your cell phone battery is dead. What do you do? Take it out and pee on it, put it back a nd dial 911. Neat trick eh!

Now, if it could only power my laptop and all my other gizmos. 

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Posted in Business & Entrepreneurship, Technology and Software | 1 Comment »

VW Vending Machine

Posted by Luminus on May 24, 2006

And you thought today's urban carparks required a tight turning radius.

uckily, in this one, it's robo-valet parking only. Actually, what you're looking at is a robot retrieval system for new cars at the VW plant in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Think of it as a VW vending machine. Let's just hope they don't let the cars plummet to the bottom of the machine when you select one. You know what that does to your Fritos, imagine what it'd do to your new 2006 Jetta.

When we go reach like this for Naija. This is tha shiznit. Talk about space management and technology taken to new heights.

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MIT poet develops ‘seeing machine’ for the blind

Posted by Luminus on May 24, 2006

An MIT poet has developed a small, relatively inexpensive "seeing machine" that can allow people who are blind, or visually challenged like her, to access the Internet, view the face of a friend, "previsit" unfamiliar buildings and more.

Recently the machine received positive feedback from 10 visually challenged people with a range of causes for their vision loss who tested it in a pilot clinical trial. The work was reported in Optometry, the Journal of the American Optometric Association, earlier this year.

The work is led by Elizabeth Goldring, a senior fellow at MIT's Center for Advanced Visual Studies. She developed the machine over the last 10 years, in collaboration with more than 30 MIT students and some of her personal eye doctors. The new device costs about $4,000, low compared to the $100,000 price tag of its inspiration, a machine Goldring discovered through her eye doctor.


MIT affiliate Elizabeth Goldring Elizabeth Goldring, foreground, looks into 'seeing machine' to take a virtual tour of a gallery using a joystick. Her assistant, Jackie McConnell, is at right.

Goldring's adventures at the intersection of art and high technology began with a visit to her doctor, Lloyd Aiello, head of the Beetham Eye Institute of the Joslin Diabetes Center. At the time, Goldring was blind. (Surgeries have since restored vision in one eye).

To better examine her eyes, Aiello asked her to go to the Schepens Eye Research Institute at Harvard, where technicians peered into her eyes with a diagnostic device known as a scanning laser opthalmoscope, or SLO. With the machine they projected a simple image directly onto the retina of one eye, past the hemorrhages within the eye that contributed to her blindness. The idea was to determine whether she had any healthy retina left.

It turns out that she did, and was able to see the image — a stick figure of a turtle. But the turtle wasn't very interesting, Goldring said. So she asked if they could write the word "sun" and transmit that through the SLO. "And I could see it!" she said. "That was the first time in several months that I'd seen a word, and for a poet that's an incredible feeling."

Elizabeth Goldring ooks at an image she created to approximate what she sees when she looks through her seeing machine at an image of a staircase Elizabeth Goldring, a senior fellow at MIT's Center for Advanced Visual Studies, looks at an image she created to approximate what she sees when she looks through her seeing machine at an image of a staircase.

She went on to use the device for many other visual experiences. For example, she developed a "visual language" consisting of short words that incorporate graphics and symbols that convey the meaning of words and make them easier to see and read.

But although the SLO held promise as more than a diagnostic device, it had serious drawbacks. In addition to the prohibitive cost, the SLO is large and bulky. Goldring determined to develop a more practical machine for the broader blind public.

She did so by collaborating over the past several years with Rob Webb, the machine's inventor and a senior scientist at the Schepens Eye Research Institute; Aiello; Dr. Jerry Cavallerano, an optometrist at Joslin; William Mitchell, former dean of MIT's School of Architecture and Planning and now a professor in the Program in Media Arts and Sciences; the late Steve Benton, an acclaimed optical physicist and MIT professor; and former MIT affiliate James Cain.

She has also worked with dozens of MIT graduate students and undergraduates, including Sylvia Gonzalez (S.B. 2003) and Shima Rayej (S.B. 2004), who helped design and construct the seeing machine.

"We essentially made the new machine from scratch," Goldring said. While still allowing the projection of images, video and more onto a person's retina, the new desktop device costs much less than its predecessor in part because it doesn't include the diagnostic feedback of the SLO. The new seeing machine also replaces the laser of the SLO with light-emitting diodes, another source of high-intensity light that is much cheaper. Like its inspiration, the seeing machine is designed to be used by one eye.

The pilot clinical trial of the seeing machine involved visually impaired people recruited from the Beetham Eye Institute. All participants had a visual acuity of 20/70 or less in the better-seeing eye. A person with 20/70 vision can see nothing smaller than the third line from the top of most eye charts. Most participants, however, had vision that was considered legally blind, meaning they could see nothing smaller than the "big E" on a standard eye chart.

With her weak eye, Goldring can distinguish between light and dark and she can see hand movement, although not individual fingers. She cannot recognize faces or read.

Subjects "had a wide range of cause for vision loss, including diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration (the fastest growing cause of blindness), and visual field loss," said Cavallerano, a coauthor of the paper and another of Goldring's doctors.

Participants used the machine to view 10 examples of Goldring's visual language. A majority — six — interpreted all 10 "word-images" correctly. "They responded really well to the visual language," Goldring said. "One woman told me she would love to see recipes written that way."

They also used the machine to navigate through a virtual environment, raising the potential for "previewing" unfamiliar buildings a person wants to visit.

Goldring explained that visually challenged people are often terrified of going to new places. "There's a fear of missing simple visual cues, steps and not being able to decipher elevator buttons." (She noted that less than 10 percent of the blind read Braille.) Further, bystanders who aim to help — "there are five steps there; it's the third door on the left" — are often wrong, especially people with good vision, Goldring said. "If you are visually challenged, if you see something once using the machine, you remember."

Participants explored the virtual environment — which represented the inside of an MIT building — via a joystick that allowed them to move forward, backward and sideways.

All of the participants reported that the machine "may have the potential to assist their mobility in unfamiliar environments," according to the Optometry article. Concluded Goldring: "A couple of them said they'd tried every seeing aid available (magnifying devices, etc.), and this was by far the best, even in this rough, rough shape."

Goldring and colleagues are now working toward a large-scale clinical trial of a color seeing machine (the device tested in the pilot trial was black and white). With the color version, participants can explore a museum gallery containing some of Goldring's art. When a person gets close enough to a piece, the work is explained in Goldring's voice.

This work was supported by NASA and by MIT's School of Architecture and Planning, Center for Advanced Visual Studies, Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and Council for the Arts.

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Nike sneakers communicate wirelessly with iPod Nanos

Posted by Luminus on May 24, 2006

The Nike+ running shoes contain a pedometer sensor and a wireless
transmitter that talks to a receiver you plug into your iPod Nano. You
program your workout routine (and music) into your Nano, and it
collaborates with the sensor to deliver messages like "two miles to go"
to your headphones as you go, and tracks your workout for upload to
your PC's fitness-tracking app.

I'm a little slack on my running these days and sadly, I don't own an iPod…yet (don't tell anyone, they'd wonder what kinda geek I am, well unless they intend to buy me one), It'd be a trip to see what the hardware hackers make of a wireless sensor that connects to the most popular portable player on the market.

I think it's pretty nifty, but Warren Ellis thinks different, very different.

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Came out of hibernation and got me a new job

Posted by Luminus on May 3, 2006

I've been so busy with work the last few weeks tidying so things because I was moving someplace else so I sorta went into e-hibernation. My e-life sorta just fizzled out. I only just resurfaced today.

I got me a new job with Ashar and I resumed today. We're working on a project sponsored by DFID to computerize the Judiciary in Nigeria and Lagos State Judiciary is the pilot project…sounds cool huh!!!!. I'm undergoing training for all of this week, really nifty stuff but I think I suffered information overload today, too much to learn, too little time and the consultant has to take a plane outta here en-route Moldova on Saturday.

I came online to find that I had 400 unread mail in my Gmail account because I hadn't checked it in a while. I have piles of replies to compile and send out. The good news though, apart from starting a new job is that I discovered this software called Zoundry that allows me post to my blog without having to go login. It's actually pretty nifty and I'm doing this post from inside it.

I'm considering setting up another blog and moving all the job related information to that one, keeping this one for my personal rantings, ravings and musings. Speaking about jobs, I'm really sorry that I haven;t been dishing out information as I should, the hectic schedule I was on made it practically impossible, what with me having tests all of this week and last and my finals coming up this Saturday, throw in the fact that I had to sort out a stack load of outstandings because I was moving. Sheesh, boy was I bogged down with work.

Hey, that's enough disjointed thoughts for one evening..

Y'all take care now and I hope I can do this more often and I'll keep y'all posted concerning the second blog, as soon as I get to it that is. :-).

Nuff luv,

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Posted in General, Jobs in Nigeria, Technology and Software | 7 Comments »

Celtel buys 65% stake in Vmobile for $1 Billion

Posted by Luminus on April 20, 2006

Nigerian Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) operator, Vmobile, may again change its name as it concludes a conditional agreement with Celtel International for Celtel to take a majority stake in the company.

Putting paid to weeks of speculations, Vmobile, in a statement endorsed by its Public Relations Manager, Mr. Emeka Opara, and released to the press in Lagos on Sunday, said the agreement, sealed on Sunday, gives a 65 per cent stake in the company to Celtel for a total consideration of around $1.005 billion (about N148 billion).

“The remaining shareholders have an option to sell their shares to Celtel at a similar valuation at a later date,” the statement said.

Major shareholders of Vmobile are Delta, Lagos and Akwa Ibom State Governments. Other shareholders are Bromley Assets Limited, Oba Otudeko, Ocean and Oil, Broad Communications and Leadway Assurance.

A pioneer mobile operator, Vmobile’s search for investment funds nearly ruined the ambition, leading to a cocktail of court cases even as it transited from Econet to Vmobile.

But lately, its fortunes have been on the rise. The company secured a hefty loan from local and international banks while pursuing an aggressive rollout programme code-named Project ROSE.

With the Nigerian mobile market exploding in terms of numbers, Celtel is one of the many companies that have made desperate attempts to partake of the pile, and is already a premier pan African mobile operator with more than nine million customers.

Celtel International is the African subsidiary of Kuwaiti telecoms giant, MTC. MTC is expected to pay the deal fee within the stipulated number of days believed to be 35 from the day the deal is struck.

Celtel’s earlier forays into Nigeria in 1998 when it was MSI Cellular Investments were unsuccessful as inconsistent policies and continuously interrupted licensing process ensured the operator could not launch operation in Nigeria

The name changed to Celtel in May 2005, when it was acquired by MTC of Kuwait for $3.4 billion. The MTC Group is a leading provider of mobile telecommunications services in the Middle East and is listed on the Kuwaiti Stock Exchange.

MTC via Celtel has been doing quite a number of buy-in in recent times one of which is the increase in its stake in Mobitel of Sudan from 39 per cent to 100 per cent.

Celtel is one of the best-known branded businesses in sub-Saharan Africa with mobile licences covering approximately one third of Africa’s population, some 270 million people.

Celtel operates mobile cellular operations in 14 countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar; Malawi, Niger, Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

Vmobile Nigeria is a telecommunications company providing GSM services in Nigeria. Incorporated in 2000, the company on August 5, 2001 became the first GSM company to launch its services in Nigeria.

It currently has five million active subscribers with coverage in over 600 towns and 8000 communities across the six geopolitical zones of the country.

This smells like the beginning of a new competition with, of course, the subscribers being the major beneficiaries.

Yay! for 0802. In case you were wondering I’ve been a Vmobile subscriber since way back when they were called Econet and I can only see more reason not to switch.

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Photos as Passwords Foil Hackers

Posted by Luminus on March 8, 2006

Clear/Unclear Image A password that uses images instead of numbers could give some people access to secure information on personal electronic devices or at ATMs within the next year.

The image authentication system uses a pair of digital images instead of a string of numbers to make logging in simple for the legitimate user, but difficult for impersonators.

“It is expected that many of the conventional user authentication systems would be able to be replaced with our scheme, since recognition of images is significantly easier for human beings than precise recall of passwords,” said team leader Masakatsu Nishigaki, a professor of informatics at Shizuoka University in Japan, where the system is being developed.

According to Nishigaki, people often use four-digit number passwords or easy-to-remember passwords, such as a name or birthday, to access information on cell phones, PDAs, Web sites, and financial accounts at ATMs.

What’s more, they often use the same password to gain access to several different location and rarely do they change the secret string of numbers.

That makes an otherwise secure system vulnerable to password cracking programs, which are designed to retrieve lost passwords but are also used by thieves to gain unauthorized access to accounts.

Nishigaki and his team propose a system that uses one clear and easily recognizable image and another that is a highly pixilated, unclear version of the original.

When creating a new password or changing an old one, the system provides the legitimate user with the clear image. But during the authentication phase, the system shows the user the unclear image, along with a number of decoy images.

To the user who holds the clear version, the unclear image is easy to pick out. But to an impersonator, finding the correct image becomes difficult.

Depending on the security level and to avoid an unauthorized person from clicking on the correct image by chance, the system can be designed to display a higher number of decoy images or to present the user with more than one round of image selection.

That security measure could also be a flaw in the unclear image system, said Tetsuji Takada, a researcher at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tokyo whose team is also working on a photo-based authentication system.

“The solution significantly decreases the memorability of pass-images,” said Takada. “There is a problem getting a better balance between security and usability in user authentication.”

Takada’s solution is to allow users to use their own photos, which would increase the chances that they would remember it. That photo is displayed among other decoy images in a group randomly selected by the computer.

For added security, the computer may display a group of photos that does not contain the pass-image. In that case, the user can answer “no pass-image.”

An unauthorized person might continue to guess at the correct photo and give himself away.

Both groups are working toward an effective system. Takada’s team will present new research findings at a conference this May.

Nishigaki’s team recently filed for a patent and has been approached by at least one Japanese company that has expressed an interest in applying the system to their product.

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The weekend is over, let there be light

Posted by Luminus on March 6, 2006

Hello y’all, had a swell weekend, caught up with some old friends and even attended a li’l birthday party.

Right now I’m doing this post from a friend’s Nokia 6630 mobile phone using the Opera mini browser. It’s actually kinda neat. Maybe I should get me one of these Symbian phones.

Boy do I hope the power situation in the office has been solved so I can get back 2 work proper.

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