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This is what the Internet sounds like

The first thing you notice is how loud it is - a shrill, almost metallic buzz that fills your head. Given access to one of the world’s largest and most secure data centres, Timo Arnall shows us that the “cloud” is not ethereal, but big, hulking and incredibly loud.

Internet Machine is a six-minute, multi-screen film shot inside one of Telefonica’s data centres in in Alcalá, Spain. You can watch the trailer above. Listen to all the whirring and throbbing of the Internet’s hidden physical parts. The white noise it produces is not pleasant, at least at first; but having worked extensively in these environments I can tell you that there is a kind of hypnotic comfort in the consistency of the sound, much like the experience of absolute silence.

In this film I wanted to look beyond the childish myth of ‘the cloud’, to investigate what the infrastructures of the internet actually look like

It felt important to be able to see and hear the energy that goes into powering these machines, and the associated systems for securing, cooling and maintaining them.”

The cloud is made of machines, and the machines are loud.

1 Notes

Song meanings
The internet, it’s a truism to say, is studded with hilarious buffoonery.
I was recently doing a little recreational Googling to find some lyrics, as one does, as it had occurred to me that I’d never actually worked out what was being said in a particular song, and this Googling led me into a comically dumb corner of the web: lyrics meaning sites.
The song in question was Placebo’s ‘36 Degrees’. I was listening to their first album the other day, and it reminded me of the many conversations that took place at school back in the nineties around what on earth Brian Molko was singing in the chorus.
This was pre-Google, pre-smartphone, it was all just teenage guesswork. So having listened to the track countless times over the years I’d never known what the lyric was - but it’s 2014 now, we live in a shiny digital future, and such questions can be answered in seconds.
I looked it up, and it turns out that the lyric in question was “Someone tried to do me ache”. No wonder we didn’t guess it, that’s a really weird thing to say. Here, take a listen, see if you could have got it.
Anyway, being a fastidious kind of soul, I looked on quite a few lyrics sites to see if they were all in agreement, and in doing so happened across songmeanings.com.
Now, this isn’t a site that scientifically analyses song lyrics. They don’t employ a panel of linguists and poets to pick apart the nuances, imagery, construct and references that are inextricably intertwined within any given song’s lyrics. No, it’s basically just that same conversation that me and my teenage chums were having back in the nineties – this is a site full of unfounded guesses by uninformed kids.
And so it was that I found myself scrolling through a hilariously shit series of interpretations of ‘36 Degrees’, increasingly amused by the idiocy of it all.
For example -

"I read somewhere that 36 degrees is the temperature that your body drops to if you have drunk way too much.”
“Actually, I believe the 36 degrees refers to a 36 degree angle because he has his shoulders touching his toes and he is bent back with his knees being the centre point.”

And my favourite of all -

“Supposedly this song is about the perfect temperature to have sex at.”

I mean, come on. What a bunch of fucking clowns.
The last one there was presumably written by someone who’s never attempted to have sex at 36 degrees Celsius (or indeed at all, ever, probably), or they’d know that the first thing you’d do would be to find an air-conditioned room. ”Supposedly”? Supposedly according to whom?
This stupid guesswork amused me greatly. So I plugged a few more songs in to see what the berks of songmeanings.com had to offer…
1. David Bowie – ‘Space Oddity’


“To everyone who said that this is a response to the Apollo 13 film with Tom Hanks, it is simply not because Space Oddity was written in 1969, whereas the film was made in 1995.”

There is much confusion on the site – some people think that ‘Space Oddity’ references the Apollo 13 space mission; this is unlikely, given that it happened a year after the song was released, but they don’t let anything as frivolous as a fact get in the way of arguing their point.
This has naturally evolved into some people thinking that the song was a response to the movie Apollo 13, which came out an impressive 26 years after the song did.
Cue much facepalming.
Also, this is insightful -

“It’s obviously one giant metaphor.”

Great, cheers for that.
2. Eminem – ‘Stan’


“I don’t think anyone should get offended by the way Stan killed his girlfriend.”

Blimey. That misses the point somewhat. I’d suggest that perhaps the offensive shockingness of the subject material is what gives the song its power. But maybe there’s something deeper afoot?

“Stan could be a combination of the word stalker and fan. Stalker + Fan = Stan.”

Ah, thanks professor. Tricky concept you’ve formulated there, I appreciate the detailed explanation. Anything more from the community?

"I LOVE THIS SONG! it’s so deep and makes me think about things… That’s all i can really say about the song… But i love it, and i love you, Eminem! (Marry Me, Please!)”

Right. OK, thanks.
3. Blur – ‘Song 2’

It’s worth remembering, before you read the following analysis, that ‘Song 2’ was a deliberately frivolous and shallow track, intended to parody and lampoon the American rock - and, more specifically, grunge - scene of the era.
It is purposefully devoid of deep meaning. But check out this guy’s attempt -

“I always thought the song was about fear of flying. Perhaps it’s him telling about the first time he flew on an airplane. Every noise and every bump is terrifying: ‘I got my head checked, By a jumbo jet, It wasn’t easy, But nothing is, No’ I think the next bit is him hearing the engins and feeling the terror (pins and needles) of something happening. Who knows maybe he was on a plane that had engin trouble (heavy metal) when he was younger: ‘When I feel heavy metal, And I’m pins and I’m needles’. The next bit he’s telling himself that everythings going to be alright and talking to the person in the neighboring seat to help keep calm: ‘Well I lie and I’m easy, All of the time but I’m never sure When I need you, Pleased to meet you’ I think the ‘I got my head done when I was young’ means that the whole thing is past tense and just him remembering it or telling a friend what happened. Ultimately the, ‘Woo hoo’ is just the terror he feels every time the plane bumps and jostles. It also is probably exilerating to know he survived and to think back on it.”

Come on. If you haven’t got a clue, you shouldn’t just guess. You’ve taken a cheery little throwaway song and turned into some kind of shit sixth form poetry there.
4. Kelis – ‘Milkshake’

Picture the furrowed brow of the person writing this one, deep in concentration, perhaps with their tongue poking slightly out of the corner of their mouth -

“Taken on a literal sense, this song generally means a woman who is “yummy”, like a milkshake, it taste good and brings you pleasure when you are enjoying it. On a more context level, it could mean that milkshake is using the body to tease the boys and they like it, so she flaunts it.”

Good-o. Thanks for giving it to us on a ”context level”, that was starting to get quite cerebral.
5. The Beatles – ‘I Am The Walrus’

This should be an open-and-shut case.
The genesis of this song is that John Lennon had received a letter from a fan, a schoolchild, telling him that their English teacher was analysing Beatles lyrics in lessons.
So Lennon set out to craft the most befuddling, random set of lyrics he could, designed specifically to be impossible to analyse for deeper meaning.
Because there was no deeper meaning. As such, presumably the folk of songmeanings.com will be aware of this, and there will be just one entry that explains the situation, right? I imagine they hold the song up as a sort of icon of impenetrable wordsmithery, the yin to their very yang?
Let’s see…

“I heard that there is a British- (or something) folktale that when you see a walrus it is the ghost of someone who recently died.”
"Everyone in their lifetime is at one point the walrus, the eggman, and even.. the goo goo goo joob. so i suppose the walrus is the leader, the eggman is the follower, and the goo goo goo joob is just undecided. this song holds all the answers.
“


“The first part, ” I am he…” has four pronouns, and four lines. There were four Beatles. They are the “pigs from a gun”, since everywhere they went they had to run, or fly to, since Beatlemania was in full effect. A cornflake is a very fragile thing, and sitting on it would cause it to break. Fame is very fragile, and one false move could make or break your career. The next part refers to the various media events the Beatles were always a part of, like TV, radio, etc. Since they were first a “boyband”, their sponsers always wanted them to be cheery and fun. John was not one to smile, hence the”face grown long”, and would have a fake grin when asked to smile…”

Oh dear. That last one goes on like that for some time.
6. Spice Girls – ‘Spice Up Your Life’

Sometimes the sheer depth of analysis within songmeanings.com becomes quite post-modern, entirely transcending conventional critiques to enter a whole other realm of literary wisdom -

"I LOVE THE sPICE gIELS THEY ROCK i’M 15”
"YOUR A FAG
“


“shut the hhhhhhhhello up you are just a freakin queer”


“Ya’ll both suck cock-a-dooodle-dooo! wuhahahahahahaha!”

Deep.
7. Lady Gaga – ‘Poker Face’


“Maybe it has to do with blowjobs. Poke her face”

Actually, yes, that’s probably correct.
-
I could go on all day. Why not have a go yourself? It’s really annoying and you’ll wish you hadn’t.
JuicyPips, direct from the mind of @denialvibes, is published weekly.

Song meanings

The internet, it’s a truism to say, is studded with hilarious buffoonery.

I was recently doing a little recreational Googling to find some lyrics, as one does, as it had occurred to me that I’d never actually worked out what was being said in a particular song, and this Googling led me into a comically dumb corner of the web: lyrics meaning sites.

The song in question was Placebo’s ‘36 Degrees’. I was listening to their first album the other day, and it reminded me of the many conversations that took place at school back in the nineties around what on earth Brian Molko was singing in the chorus.

This was pre-Google, pre-smartphone, it was all just teenage guesswork. So having listened to the track countless times over the years I’d never known what the lyric was - but it’s 2014 now, we live in a shiny digital future, and such questions can be answered in seconds.

I looked it up, and it turns out that the lyric in question was “Someone tried to do me ache”. No wonder we didn’t guess it, that’s a really weird thing to say. Here, take a listen, see if you could have got it.

Anyway, being a fastidious kind of soul, I looked on quite a few lyrics sites to see if they were all in agreement, and in doing so happened across songmeanings.com.

Now, this isn’t a site that scientifically analyses song lyrics. They don’t employ a panel of linguists and poets to pick apart the nuances, imagery, construct and references that are inextricably intertwined within any given song’s lyrics. No, it’s basically just that same conversation that me and my teenage chums were having back in the nineties – this is a site full of unfounded guesses by uninformed kids.

And so it was that I found myself scrolling through a hilariously shit series of interpretations of ‘36 Degrees’, increasingly amused by the idiocy of it all.

For example -

"I read somewhere that 36 degrees is the temperature that your body drops to if you have drunk way too much.

Actually, I believe the 36 degrees refers to a 36 degree angle because he has his shoulders touching his toes and he is bent back with his knees being the centre point.

And my favourite of all -

Supposedly this song is about the perfect temperature to have sex at.

I mean, come on. What a bunch of fucking clowns.

The last one there was presumably written by someone who’s never attempted to have sex at 36 degrees Celsius (or indeed at all, ever, probably), or they’d know that the first thing you’d do would be to find an air-conditioned room. Supposedly? Supposedly according to whom?

This stupid guesswork amused me greatly. So I plugged a few more songs in to see what the berks of songmeanings.com had to offer…

1. David Bowie – ‘Space Oddity’

To everyone who said that this is a response to the Apollo 13 film with Tom Hanks, it is simply not because Space Oddity was written in 1969, whereas the film was made in 1995.

There is much confusion on the site – some people think that ‘Space Oddity’ references the Apollo 13 space mission; this is unlikely, given that it happened a year after the song was released, but they don’t let anything as frivolous as a fact get in the way of arguing their point.

This has naturally evolved into some people thinking that the song was a response to the movie Apollo 13, which came out an impressive 26 years after the song did.

Cue much facepalming.

Also, this is insightful -

It’s obviously one giant metaphor.

Great, cheers for that.

2. Eminem – ‘Stan’

I don’t think anyone should get offended by the way Stan killed his girlfriend.

Blimey. That misses the point somewhat. I’d suggest that perhaps the offensive shockingness of the subject material is what gives the song its power. But maybe there’s something deeper afoot?

Stan could be a combination of the word stalker and fan. Stalker + Fan = Stan.

Ah, thanks professor. Tricky concept you’ve formulated there, I appreciate the detailed explanation. Anything more from the community?

"I LOVE THIS SONG! it’s so deep and makes me think about things… That’s all i can really say about the song… But i love it, and i love you, Eminem! (Marry Me, Please!)

Right. OK, thanks.

3. Blur – ‘Song 2’

It’s worth remembering, before you read the following analysis, that ‘Song 2’ was a deliberately frivolous and shallow track, intended to parody and lampoon the American rock - and, more specifically, grunge - scene of the era.

It is purposefully devoid of deep meaning. But check out this guy’s attempt -

I always thought the song was about fear of flying. Perhaps it’s him telling about the first time he flew on an airplane. Every noise and every bump is terrifying: ‘I got my head checked, By a jumbo jet, It wasn’t easy, But nothing is, No’ I think the next bit is him hearing the engins and feeling the terror (pins and needles) of something happening. Who knows maybe he was on a plane that had engin trouble (heavy metal) when he was younger: ‘When I feel heavy metal, And I’m pins and I’m needles’. The next bit he’s telling himself that everythings going to be alright and talking to the person in the neighboring seat to help keep calm: ‘Well I lie and I’m easy, All of the time but I’m never sure When I need you, Pleased to meet you’ I think the ‘I got my head done when I was young’ means that the whole thing is past tense and just him remembering it or telling a friend what happened. Ultimately the, ‘Woo hoo’ is just the terror he feels every time the plane bumps and jostles. It also is probably exilerating to know he survived and to think back on it.

Come on. If you haven’t got a clue, you shouldn’t just guess. You’ve taken a cheery little throwaway song and turned into some kind of shit sixth form poetry there.

4. Kelis – ‘Milkshake’

Picture the furrowed brow of the person writing this one, deep in concentration, perhaps with their tongue poking slightly out of the corner of their mouth -

Taken on a literal sense, this song generally means a woman who is “yummy”, like a milkshake, it taste good and brings you pleasure when you are enjoying it. On a more context level, it could mean that milkshake is using the body to tease the boys and they like it, so she flaunts it.

Good-o. Thanks for giving it to us on a context level, that was starting to get quite cerebral.

5. The Beatles – ‘I Am The Walrus’

This should be an open-and-shut case.

The genesis of this song is that John Lennon had received a letter from a fan, a schoolchild, telling him that their English teacher was analysing Beatles lyrics in lessons.

So Lennon set out to craft the most befuddling, random set of lyrics he could, designed specifically to be impossible to analyse for deeper meaning.

Because there was no deeper meaning. As such, presumably the folk of songmeanings.com will be aware of this, and there will be just one entry that explains the situation, right? I imagine they hold the song up as a sort of icon of impenetrable wordsmithery, the yin to their very yang?

Let’s see…

I heard that there is a British- (or something) folktale that when you see a walrus it is the ghost of someone who recently died.

"Everyone in their lifetime is at one point the walrus, the eggman, and even.. the goo goo goo joob. so i suppose the walrus is the leader, the eggman is the follower, and the goo goo goo joob is just undecided. this song holds all the answers.
The first part, ” I am he…” has four pronouns, and four lines. There were four Beatles. They are the “pigs from a gun”, since everywhere they went they had to run, or fly to, since Beatlemania was in full effect. A cornflake is a very fragile thing, and sitting on it would cause it to break. Fame is very fragile, and one false move could make or break your career. The next part refers to the various media events the Beatles were always a part of, like TV, radio, etc. Since they were first a “boyband”, their sponsers always wanted them to be cheery and fun. John was not one to smile, hence the”face grown long”, and would have a fake grin when asked to smile…

Oh dear. That last one goes on like that for some time.

6. Spice Girls – ‘Spice Up Your Life’

Sometimes the sheer depth of analysis within songmeanings.com becomes quite post-modern, entirely transcending conventional critiques to enter a whole other realm of literary wisdom -

"I LOVE THE sPICE gIELS THEY ROCK i’M 15

"YOUR A FAG
shut the hhhhhhhhello up you are just a freakin queer
Ya’ll both suck cock-a-dooodle-dooo! wuhahahahahahaha!

Deep.

7. Lady Gaga – ‘Poker Face’

Maybe it has to do with blowjobs. Poke her face

Actually, yes, that’s probably correct.

-

I could go on all day. Why not have a go yourself? It’s really annoying and you’ll wish you hadn’t.

JuicyPips, direct from the mind of @denialvibes, is published weekly.

2 Notes

As the Web turns 25, Sir Tim Berners-Lee calls for a web Magna Carta
Happy belated birthday to the world wide web.
Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee’s “Information Management: A Proposal”, containing the ideas that led to the World Wide Web.
From its humble beginnings as a way to store linked documents at CERN to… well, you’re reading this now.

"In the following quarter-century, the Web has changed the world in ways that I never could have imagined.
"There have been many exciting advances. It has generated billions of dollars in economic growth, turned data into the gold of the 21st century, unleashed innovation in education and healthcare, whittled away geographic and social boundaries, revolutionised the media, and forced a reinvention of politics in many countries by enabling constant two-way dialogue between the rulers and the ruled.
"It’s time for us to make a big communal decision.
“In front of us are two roads - which way are we going to go? Are we going to continue on the road and just allow the governments to do more and more and more control - more and more surveillance? Or are we going to set up a bunch of values? Are we going to set up something like a Magna Carta for the world wide web and say, actually, now it’s so important, so much part of our lives, that it becomes on a level with human rights?”
- Tim Berners-Lee
How has the rise of the web affected your life?

As the Web turns 25, Sir Tim Berners-Lee calls for a web Magna Carta

Happy belated birthday to the world wide web.

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee’s “Information Management: A Proposal”, containing the ideas that led to the World Wide Web.

From its humble beginnings as a way to store linked documents at CERN to… well, you’re reading this now.

"In the following quarter-century, the Web has changed the world in ways that I never could have imagined.

"There have been many exciting advances. It has generated billions of dollars in economic growth, turned data into the gold of the 21st century, unleashed innovation in education and healthcare, whittled away geographic and social boundaries, revolutionised the media, and forced a reinvention of politics in many countries by enabling constant two-way dialogue between the rulers and the ruled.

"It’s time for us to make a big communal decision.

“In front of us are two roads - which way are we going to go? Are we going to continue on the road and just allow the governments to do more and more and more control - more and more surveillance? Or are we going to set up a bunch of values? Are we going to set up something like a Magna Carta for the world wide web and say, actually, now it’s so important, so much part of our lives, that it becomes on a level with human rights?”
- Tim Berners-Lee

How has the rise of the web affected your life?

3 Notes

Russia bans Bitcoin outright
Russia has banned digital currency Bitcoin under existing laws and has dubbed the use of the crypto-currency as ‘suspicious’.
The Central Bank of Russia considers Bitcoin as a form of ‘money substitute’ or ‘money surrogate’ (here’s statement, in Russian) which is restricted under Russian law.
However, unlike the use of restricted foreign currencies, Bitcoin has been banned outright.
Surprised? No. After all, this is the country that believes homosexuality and pedophilia to be interchangeable.

Russia bans Bitcoin outright

Russia has banned digital currency Bitcoin under existing laws and has dubbed the use of the crypto-currency as ‘suspicious’.

The Central Bank of Russia considers Bitcoin as a form of ‘money substitute’ or ‘money surrogate’ (here’s statement, in Russian) which is restricted under Russian law.

However, unlike the use of restricted foreign currencies, Bitcoin has been banned outright.

Surprised? No. After all, this is the country that believes homosexuality and pedophilia to be interchangeable.

2 Notes

How far we’ve come: news report from 1981 about the Internet

"Imagine, if you will, sitting down to your morning coffee, turning on your home computer to see the day’s newspaper. Well, it’s not as far-fetched as it may seem."

Thus begins this video of a 1981 KRON report predicting the rise of news reporting on the internet.

My favourite quote -

"This is an experiment. We’re trying to figure out what it’s going to mean to us, as editors and reporters and what it means to the home user. And we’re not in it to make money, we’re probably not going to lose a lot but we aren’t going to make much either."

David Cole (S.F. Examiner)

One part of that was on the money…

2 Notes

Operating a business in the age of the ‘brand experience’
The business world has been through a remarkable transition in the last three decades, a time that has seen traditional concepts of brand move away from the physical to the virtual world.
The preeminent philosophy of these times came to be embodied in a software development term known as ”user experience” - what a customer experiences in electronic formats.
The difference, it was believed, between a ”good” user experience and ”bad” one was the difference between a company’s success and its failure. Thus, user experience became the key to thriving in the digital revolution.
In the last decade or so, however, the preeminence of user experience seems to have come full circle. There has been a shift back toward the physical world in which all aspects of a business - its products, architecture, printed materials, software, mobile applications and everything in between - have to be considered as a unified whole in order for companies to succeed.
The story of how we got here, and what it means to businesses moving forward, is a fascinating tale that holds lessons for anyone willing to tune into its subtle, but powerful messages.
Full article on TNW.
@Mingard is a regular contributor to Found Things.

Operating a business in the age of the ‘brand experience’

The business world has been through a remarkable transition in the last three decades, a time that has seen traditional concepts of brand move away from the physical to the virtual world.

The preeminent philosophy of these times came to be embodied in a software development term known as user experience” - what a customer experiences in electronic formats.

The difference, it was believed, between a good user experience and bad one was the difference between a company’s success and its failure. Thus, user experience became the key to thriving in the digital revolution.

In the last decade or so, however, the preeminence of user experience seems to have come full circle. There has been a shift back toward the physical world in which all aspects of a business - its products, architecture, printed materials, software, mobile applications and everything in between - have to be considered as a unified whole in order for companies to succeed.

The story of how we got here, and what it means to businesses moving forward, is a fascinating tale that holds lessons for anyone willing to tune into its subtle, but powerful messages.

Full article on TNW.

@Mingard is a regular contributor to Found Things.

Notes

Sharp-eyed sleuth finds evidence that he’s being tracked by his ISP
A guy named Hayden James Lee found all kinds of shenanigans going on in his browser whenever he visited non-https sites.
Here was his conclusion -

"I realized that the only sites that weren’t affected were those using https rather than http. This makes sense, you can’t inject code into https because it is encrypted."

Yet another reason to encrypt all web traffic.
Via Mike Elgan.
@ColonyClive is a regular contributor to Found Things.

Sharp-eyed sleuth finds evidence that he’s being tracked by his ISP

A guy named Hayden James Lee found all kinds of shenanigans going on in his browser whenever he visited non-https sites.

Here was his conclusion -

"I realized that the only sites that weren’t affected were those using https rather than http. This makes sense, you can’t inject code into https because it is encrypted."

Yet another reason to encrypt all web traffic.

Via Mike Elgan.

@ColonyClive is a regular contributor to Found Things.

1 Notes

Defining “content”
Here’s an interesting thought piece for for a Saturday afternoon: why is the term “content” so objectionable?
For Cory Doctorow at boing boing, "Content" has the stink of failure. His observation is centred on the definition of the term.
One of the origins of the term in technical speech is the idea that you can separate the “content” of a web-page from the “presentation”. Now that the Web’s in its second decade of common use, it’s pretty clear that “content” and “presentation” are never fully separable, a lesson that was already learned in other media.
In “Content-free”, Tim Bray makes the point nobody calls Hollywood’s output “content” - they’re movies and flicks. Publishers produce novels and epics; musicians make songs and symphonies.
The point here is that if you’re building something that’s used for communication, and you find that people are using an idiomatic name for what they’re sending and receiving, you’re probably on to something.
But if you’re about “generating content” you’re dead.
Reading the comments on Tim’s article backs up this position: “Content” is an enigma to the collective but to the individual, it is clearly defined.
So it is still a case that “Content is King”. But content clearly includes the “Presentation” of that “Content”.
@ColonyClive is a regular contributor to Found Things.

Defining “content”

Here’s an interesting thought piece for for a Saturday afternoon: why is the term “content” so objectionable?

For Cory Doctorow at boing boing, "Content" has the stink of failure. His observation is centred on the definition of the term.

One of the origins of the term in technical speech is the idea that you can separate the “content” of a web-page from the “presentation”. Now that the Web’s in its second decade of common use, it’s pretty clear that “content” and “presentation” are never fully separable, a lesson that was already learned in other media.

In “Content-free”, Tim Bray makes the point nobody calls Hollywood’s output “content” - they’re movies and flicks. Publishers produce novels and epics; musicians make songs and symphonies.

The point here is that if you’re building something that’s used for communication, and you find that people are using an idiomatic name for what they’re sending and receiving, you’re probably on to something.

But if you’re about “generating content” you’re dead.

Reading the comments on Tim’s article backs up this position: “Content” is an enigma to the collective but to the individual, it is clearly defined.

So it is still a case that “Content is King”. But content clearly includes the “Presentation” of that “Content”.

@ColonyClive is a regular contributor to Found Things.

Notes

CES ‘14: show preview 
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. That is, of course, unless it is the Consumer Electronics Show. CES 2014 hits the ‘entertainment capital of the world’ tomorrow and more than 20,000 new products are expected to be on show to over 150,000 manufacturers and retailers from across the globe. 
Found Things is in Las Vegas to check out the best new kit at CES over the coming days, but in the meantime here’s a preview of products and trends likely to grab the headlines.
Bigger televisions
TVs will be a big draw once again this year as screen sizes go up as fast as prices shrink on HDTV sets. As all the big manufacturers have jumped on the Connected TV bandwagon, it will be back to what really matters: size and picture quality.
That means screens over 100 inches with Ultra HD – four times more pixels than normal HD and the same aspect ratio as your local cinema, so no more black lines and, since some of the sets are curved, a much more immersive experience.
Netflix and YouTube are also rumoured to have 4K streaming ready for home broadband too.
Smarter things
‘Smart’ doesn’t stop at TVs, phones and watches: wearable tech will be big at CES this year and fitness is a theme.
Manufacturers will be looking to cash in on Google Glass, such as Technogym’s treadmill that will stream exercise stats to your eyes, plus we expect fitness bands from LG and Samsung – and the sleep-monitoring Fitbit.
Curvier smartphones are also on the way (including the new LG G2 Mini), alongside myriad more powerful, cheaper tablets running on both Android and Windows.
Better games
Microsoft has bowed out of CES for the time being, but Sony is due armed with games for its recent Playstation 4 and, possibly, a virtual reality headset. We can but dream.
Hit PC game developer Valve will attend with its upcoming Steam Machines - console-like PCs running a Linux-based operating system. With a number of partners building Steam consoles this should heat up competition among the new generation of home gaming here.
Cleaner cars
Typically auto manufacturers will be keen to talk about future drivetrain technology - Toyota will have its latest line up of electric vehicles, likely including the FV2, while Renault will unveil the fully-electric Spark-Renault SRT_01E race car on Monday.
But we’re also expecting much talk of integrated tech in vehicles – among the headlines are new laser-augmented lights from Audi which promise an extra 500m vision and Chevrolet’s new OnStar app that monitors every detail of your ride.
-
We’ll bring you more on all this once the show doors open. You can also read about CES 2014 at the official website.
Filed by Christa L. Rasar

CES ‘14: show preview 

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. That is, of course, unless it is the Consumer Electronics Show. CES 2014 hits the ‘entertainment capital of the world tomorrow and more than 20,000 new products are expected to be on show to over 150,000 manufacturers and retailers from across the globe. 

Found Things is in Las Vegas to check out the best new kit at CES over the coming days, but in the meantime here’s a preview of products and trends likely to grab the headlines.

Bigger televisions

TVs will be a big draw once again this year as screen sizes go up as fast as prices shrink on HDTV sets. As all the big manufacturers have jumped on the Connected TV bandwagon, it will be back to what really matters: size and picture quality.

That means screens over 100 inches with Ultra HD – four times more pixels than normal HD and the same aspect ratio as your local cinema, so no more black lines and, since some of the sets are curved, a much more immersive experience.

Netflix and YouTube are also rumoured to have 4K streaming ready for home broadband too.

Smarter things

‘Smart’ doesn’t stop at TVs, phones and watches: wearable tech will be big at CES this year and fitness is a theme.

Manufacturers will be looking to cash in on Google Glass, such as Technogym’s treadmill that will stream exercise stats to your eyes, plus we expect fitness bands from LG and Samsung – and the sleep-monitoring Fitbit.

Curvier smartphones are also on the way (including the new LG G2 Mini), alongside myriad more powerful, cheaper tablets running on both Android and Windows.

Better games

Microsoft has bowed out of CES for the time being, but Sony is due armed with games for its recent Playstation 4 and, possibly, a virtual reality headset. We can but dream.

Hit PC game developer Valve will attend with its upcoming Steam Machines - console-like PCs running a Linux-based operating system. With a number of partners building Steam consoles this should heat up competition among the new generation of home gaming here.

Cleaner cars

Typically auto manufacturers will be keen to talk about future drivetrain technology - Toyota will have its latest line up of electric vehicles, likely including the FV2, while Renault will unveil the fully-electric Spark-Renault SRT_01E race car on Monday.

But we’re also expecting much talk of integrated tech in vehicles – among the headlines are new laser-augmented lights from Audi which promise an extra 500m vision and Chevrolet’s new OnStar app that monitors every detail of your ride.

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We’ll bring you more on all this once the show doors open. You can also read about CES 2014 at the official website.

Filed by Christa L. Rasar

1 Notes

Forget the Internet of things: the future is smart dust
Why even bother attaching sensors to actual things? What if they just floated all around us in the air?
The “Internet of Things” - or the idea of connecting all machinery, buildings, and stuff, together into one big sensing, recording, and data-logging mega-network - is a hot concept in industry at the moment. Companies like General Electric and Cisco are busy making a node of everything. But, to some people, the “Internet of Things” is yesterday’s buzz-topic. The future is even more ubiquity (if that’s possible). It’s something called Smart Dust.
So what is it?

"Sensors that float in the air throughout the entire city and track movement, biometric indicators, temperature change, and chemical composition of everything in their city,"
- @Dan_Rowinski, writing in ReadWrite Future Tech

That’s much better than a few sensors here and there -

"Putting sensors on stuff? Boring. What if the sensors were in the air, everywhere? They could monitor everything—temperature, humidity, chemical signatures, movement, brainwaves—everything."

DARPA and the Rand Corporation have been working on smart dust since the early 1990’s and smart dust has made it to Gartner’s Hype Cycle For Emerging Technology.
Building smart dust isn’t easy, though. Each fleck needs to have its own sensor array complete with a “microscopic operating system” and the ability to communicate with a base station. Teams at Berkeley and Stanford Universities are working on different parts of the problem.

"The goal is to make the entire package as small as possible and last as long as possible, while being able to support a microscopic operating system that enables the whole thing to run"

Here’s what the University of California scientists say -

"Smart Dust may be deployed over a region to record data for meteorological, geophysical or planetary research. It may be employed to perform measurements in environments where wired sensors are unusable or lead to measurements errors… In biological research, Smart Dust may be used to monitor the movements and internal processes of insects or other small animals."

Wow.
Via @paulrgn

Forget the Internet of things: the future is smart dust

Why even bother attaching sensors to actual things? What if they just floated all around us in the air?

The “Internet of Things” - or the idea of connecting all machinery, buildings, and stuff, together into one big sensing, recording, and data-logging mega-network - is a hot concept in industry at the moment. Companies like General Electric and Cisco are busy making a node of everything. But, to some people, the “Internet of Things” is yesterday’s buzz-topic. The future is even more ubiquity (if that’s possible). It’s something called Smart Dust.

So what is it?

"Sensors that float in the air throughout the entire city and track movement, biometric indicators, temperature change, and chemical composition of everything in their city,"

- @Dan_Rowinski, writing in ReadWrite Future Tech

That’s much better than a few sensors here and there -

"Putting sensors on stuff? Boring. What if the sensors were in the air, everywhere? They could monitor everything—temperature, humidity, chemical signatures, movement, brainwaves—everything."

DARPA and the Rand Corporation have been working on smart dust since the early 1990’s and smart dust has made it to Gartner’s Hype Cycle For Emerging Technology.

Building smart dust isn’t easy, though. Each fleck needs to have its own sensor array complete with a “microscopic operating system” and the ability to communicate with a base station. Teams at Berkeley and Stanford Universities are working on different parts of the problem.

"The goal is to make the entire package as small as possible and last as long as possible, while being able to support a microscopic operating system that enables the whole thing to run"

Here’s what the University of California scientists say -

"Smart Dust may be deployed over a region to record data for meteorological, geophysical or planetary research. It may be employed to perform measurements in environments where wired sensors are unusable or lead to measurements errors… In biological research, Smart Dust may be used to monitor the movements and internal processes of insects or other small animals."

Wow.

Via @paulrgn

Notes

Google Zeitgeist 2013: what we searched for
Providing the perfect digital reflection on the year that was, Google has released its annual list of the most searched for terms.
Actor Paul Walker was the overall most searched for term of the year, following his death last month. In the list of most searched people, he was followed by fellow actor Cory Monteith and former Olympian Oscar Pistorius, with Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher and Nigella Lawson also featured.
Top question of the year?

"what is twerking"

I love hate humanity.
New gadget releases also made for popular searches, with the iPhone 5s, Samsung Galaxy 4s, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One all generating interest.
But trends differed greatly when broken out by region. Rather predicably, the UK buzzed about the royal baby and the Grand National, while Canadians took to Google to research Mayor Rob Ford’s latest blunders and the UAE researched Ramadan (bumping Gangnam Style from their top spot last year).

"Our annual Zeitgeist survey provides a fascinating snapshot of our interests and obsessions for the year. Celebrities always get a lot of interest and the passing of well-known figures makes people want to learn more about them."
- Claudine Beaumont, Google UK

Who or what sparked your digital curiosity in 2013?

Google Zeitgeist 2013: what we searched for

Providing the perfect digital reflection on the year that was, Google has released its annual list of the most searched for terms.

Actor Paul Walker was the overall most searched for term of the year, following his death last month. In the list of most searched people, he was followed by fellow actor Cory Monteith and former Olympian Oscar Pistorius, with Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher and Nigella Lawson also featured.

Top question of the year?

"what is twerking"

I love hate humanity.

New gadget releases also made for popular searches, with the iPhone 5s, Samsung Galaxy 4s, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One all generating interest.

But trends differed greatly when broken out by region. Rather predicably, the UK buzzed about the royal baby and the Grand National, while Canadians took to Google to research Mayor Rob Ford’s latest blunders and the UAE researched Ramadan (bumping Gangnam Style from their top spot last year).

"Our annual Zeitgeist survey provides a fascinating snapshot of our interests and obsessions for the year. Celebrities always get a lot of interest and the passing of well-known figures makes people want to learn more about them."

- Claudine Beaumont, Google UK

Who or what sparked your digital curiosity in 2013?

6 Notes

DRM has always been a horrible idea
For years, the reaction of the big entertainment companies to digital disruption has been to try to restrict and control, a wrong-headed approach that has done a lot to undermine the old order.
But the entertainment companies were never known for being forward thinking. Whether it was radio in the 20s, cassette tapes in the 70s, VCRs in the 80s or Napster in the 90s, the reaction has the always been the same: take a defensive position and try to battle the disruptive force.
And it has never worked.
DRM was perhaps the worst reaction of all, placing restrictions on content that punish the very people who are willing to pay for it, while others are free to use it without restriction. It an approach that never made much sense, and it’s good to know that mounting evidence proves that this is the case.

DRM has always been a horrible idea

For years, the reaction of the big entertainment companies to digital disruption has been to try to restrict and control, a wrong-headed approach that has done a lot to undermine the old order.

But the entertainment companies were never known for being forward thinking. Whether it was radio in the 20s, cassette tapes in the 70s, VCRs in the 80s or Napster in the 90s, the reaction has the always been the same: take a defensive position and try to battle the disruptive force.

And it has never worked.

DRM was perhaps the worst reaction of all, placing restrictions on content that punish the very people who are willing to pay for it, while others are free to use it without restriction. It an approach that never made much sense, and it’s good to know that mounting evidence proves that this is the case.

1 Notes

Welcome to the unicorn club: learning from billion-dollar startups
How likely is it for a startup to achieve a billion-dollar valuation? Is there anything we can learn from the mega hits of the past decade, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Workday?
To answer these questions, the Cowboy Ventures team built a dataset of U.S.-based tech companies started since January 2003 and most recently valued at $1 billion by private or public markets.
Learnings from the “Unicorn Club” -
39 companies belong to what we call the “Unicorn Club” (by our definition, U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors). That’s about .07 percent of venture-backed consumer and enterprise software startups
On average, four unicorns were born per year in the past decade, with Facebook being the breakout “super-unicorn” (worth >$100 billion). In each recent decade, 1-3 super unicorns have been born
Consumer-oriented unicorns have been more plentiful and created more value in aggregate, even excluding Facebook
But enterprise-oriented unicorns have become worth more on average, and raised much less private capital, delivering a higher return on private investment
Companies fall somewhat evenly into four major business models: consumer e-commerce, consumer audience, software-as-a-service, and enterprise software
It has taken seven-plus years on average before a “liquidity event” for companies, not including the third of our list that is still private. It’s a long journey beyond vesting periods
Inexperienced, twentysomething founders were an outlier. Companies with well-educated, thirtysomething co-founders who have history together have built the most successes
The “big pivot” after starting with a different initial product is an outlier
San Francisco (not the Valley) now reigns as the home of unicorns
There is very little diversity among founders in the Unicorn Club
There’s a world of supporting stats and analysis on Techcrunch. Check it.

Welcome to the unicorn club: learning from billion-dollar startups

How likely is it for a startup to achieve a billion-dollar valuation? Is there anything we can learn from the mega hits of the past decade, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Workday?

To answer these questions, the Cowboy Ventures team built a dataset of U.S.-based tech companies started since January 2003 and most recently valued at $1 billion by private or public markets.

Learnings from the “Unicorn Club” -

  1. 39 companies belong to what we call the “Unicorn Club” (by our definition, U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors). That’s about .07 percent of venture-backed consumer and enterprise software startups
  2. On average, four unicorns were born per year in the past decade, with Facebook being the breakout “super-unicorn” (worth >$100 billion). In each recent decade, 1-3 super unicorns have been born
  3. Consumer-oriented unicorns have been more plentiful and created more value in aggregate, even excluding Facebook
  4. But enterprise-oriented unicorns have become worth more on average, and raised much less private capital, delivering a higher return on private investment
  5. Companies fall somewhat evenly into four major business models: consumer e-commerce, consumer audience, software-as-a-service, and enterprise software
  6. It has taken seven-plus years on average before a “liquidity event” for companies, not including the third of our list that is still private. It’s a long journey beyond vesting periods
  7. Inexperienced, twentysomething founders were an outlier. Companies with well-educated, thirtysomething co-founders who have history together have built the most successes
  8. The “big pivot” after starting with a different initial product is an outlier
  9. San Francisco (not the Valley) now reigns as the home of unicorns
  10. There is very little diversity among founders in the Unicorn Club

There’s a world of supporting stats and analysis on Techcrunch. Check it.

Notes

Snap out of it: kids aren’t reliable tech predictors
Good grief, what’s this? Common sense being spouted in the tech industry?

Snap out of it: kids aren’t reliable tech predictors

Good grief, what’s this? Common sense being spouted in the tech industry?

8 Notes

Why tablet magazines are a failure
Dedicated magazine apps for tablets may look good, but I fear they’re headed straight to oblivion.
Last year, Nielsen estimated the average mobile user has 41 apps on his or her smartphone. In April, a Flurry study showed the average smartphone user opens only eight apps a day, with the most popular being Facebook, YouTube and game apps. And according to a 2012 report from Localytics, 22 percent of all apps are only opened once.
Dedicated magazine apps get lost on individual devices and worse, are invisible in large streams of information governing the web.
When a magazine is organized as an app rather than as a website, its articles can neither be indexed or searched on the web. And even if they could, clicking the link in Google at best takes readers to an app store, not to the article itself - cutting the magazine out of the greatest traffic driver in today’s world.
The pattern is the same on social media. When you can’t link directly to an article, the urge to tweet or tell your friends about it drastically shrinks. And curators like Flipboard and Zite can’t look into, link or grab content from within magazine apps.
Evidence of success for standalone iPad magazines is very difficult to find. The grandest attempt to make this new publishing platform work, News Corp’s “The Daily” iPad app, closed after two years of operation. The Daily only cost $0.99 a week, but with just a little over 100,000 subscribers at last count, it couldn’t break even.
All that said, I believe that the future for producing quality content for niches is both bright and promising. But it has to be presented openly, socially, in flow - not in closed tablet apps.
Extracts  from Jon Lund’s article on gigaom.com.

Why tablet magazines are a failure

Dedicated magazine apps for tablets may look good, but I fear they’re headed straight to oblivion.

Last year, Nielsen estimated the average mobile user has 41 apps on his or her smartphone. In April, a Flurry study showed the average smartphone user opens only eight apps a day, with the most popular being Facebook, YouTube and game apps. And according to a 2012 report from Localytics, 22 percent of all apps are only opened once.

Dedicated magazine apps get lost on individual devices and worse, are invisible in large streams of information governing the web.

When a magazine is organized as an app rather than as a website, its articles can neither be indexed or searched on the web. And even if they could, clicking the link in Google at best takes readers to an app store, not to the article itself - cutting the magazine out of the greatest traffic driver in today’s world.

The pattern is the same on social media. When you can’t link directly to an article, the urge to tweet or tell your friends about it drastically shrinks. And curators like Flipboard and Zite can’t look into, link or grab content from within magazine apps.

Evidence of success for standalone iPad magazines is very difficult to find. The grandest attempt to make this new publishing platform work, News Corp’s “The Daily” iPad app, closed after two years of operation. The Daily only cost $0.99 a week, but with just a little over 100,000 subscribers at last count, it couldn’t break even.

All that said, I believe that the future for producing quality content for niches is both bright and promising. But it has to be presented openly, socially, in flow - not in closed tablet apps.

Extracts  from Jon Lund’s article on gigaom.com.