Saturday, September 29, 2012

Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak on Kim Dotcom

With the Kim Dotcom saga (or farce) continuing to lead the the news I was reminded of this Interview Steve Wozniak gave towards the end of July in which he comes out firmly in favour of Dotcom. 

Woz was in the local news again today with a story suggesting he may be planing to move to New Zealand to live.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Men who plan beyond tomorrow

Predicting the future is hard - flying cars, hotels on the moon, that kinda thing. I know, I approached the final two chapters of The Universal Machine, which look at how computing will be in the future, with more trepidation than the historical section of the book. My colleague, Bob Doran, came across this web article that features a series of advertisements by Seagrams Whiskey from the 1940's. Each presents a vision of the future showcasing a particular technology. Some are fanciful, but the wall hung flatscreen TVs in a sports bar are spot on.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Monopoly and the unsolvability of #Turing's Halting Problem

In a guest blog for the Guardian Prof. Barry S. Cooper shows how the game of Monopoly can (in a sense) be used to exploreof Turing's discovery of the " unsolvability of the Halting Problem for the Universal Turing Machine. Turing showed that computers, though very useful, are not that clever. And that most complex problems are actually incomputable."  The blog is an interesting read and includes a link to Bletchley Park's shop where you can pre-order your very own copy of the special issue Turing Monopoly set. Get in quick as only 2,000 have been made and Google have already bought 1,000.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Will the Internet fragment?

Here's an interesting news story called "The Internet in pieces" by Misha Glenny writing for the Guardian. The story tells how Iran has decided to block all access to the global Internet from within Iran and create a giant Iranian intranet. Ostensibly the reason is to protect Iran from cyber attacks like the recent Stuxnet worm. Of course a side effect will be to deny Iranian counter-revolutionaries access to Twitter, Facebook and all forms of external information.  Whilst I can't see this being anything other than harmful to Iranians in the short term the potential for much larger countries, like China, to create their own web that has all the content and services that the vast majority of their population needs is clearly a possibility.
    Chapter 12, Digital Underworld of The Universal Machine has more about Stuxnet and cyberwar.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

#Apple's mapocalypse

Well that's what some journalists are calling it. By a coincidence just a few days ago I blogged about how much effort Google has put into its mapping service. not just effort in terms of satellite imagery and street view, but physical human effort in terms of correcting mistakes and ensuring the overlaid information is correct. Thus, it's no surprise if Apple is finding it hard to hit the ground with a product of similar quality in iOS 6.
    So many people are asking why did Apple remove Google Maps from iOS 6? The answer is simple. Providing location services is so important going into the future that Apple could not abandon this segment of the market to Google. It has to become a major player in mapping and the provision of location sensitive data and services. If that means Apple has to spend a few billion dollars and lag behind Google for a few years it's a price worth paying - mapocalypse now or armageddon latter, that was the choice.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

#Google backs Alan #Turing #Monopoly game

Interesting ways of commemorating Turing's centenary continue to crop up. A recent strange one is a special Turing edition of the classic board game Monopoly. Chris Matyszczyk reports for CNET that Google has backed the special edition of the game and has bought 1,000 of the 2,000 games made. There is a link to Turing as he used to play the board game at Bletchley Park during WWII on a hand made board that can still be seen at Bletchley.
Interestingly my mother, with whom I'm currently visiting, has just informed me that my great uncle Victor Watson was managing director of Waddington's the British company that manufactured Monopoly outside of the US under licence from its inventors.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Google's Ground Truth

You may not have wondered what is beneath or below or behind a Google map, but this fascinating article in The Atlantic takes you behind the scenes to see how Google compiles its maps. It also gives an insight into the near future when Google, not only indexes all of the information on the Internet, but also indexes all of the text visible in the physical world. Soon you'll be able to search street signs and business names just as if they were websites.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Alan #Turing chirps

At the Turing Festival a few days ago I came across a guy from a company that had an iOS app inspired by Turing's secure speech communication machine, ">Delilah. Towards the end of WWII Turing worked on a device that could encrypt speech, transmit via telephone or radio and decrypt the speech. The device was not ready in time to be used during the war.
The guys at have taken this idea and made an iOS app that can take a photo or note on your iPhone, convert it into sound and transmit it audibly to any iPhone nearby running chirp - no wifi, no Bluetooth, just sound

Thursday, September 6, 2012

New Zealand Artist Inspired by Robotics

Sam Broad, working out of Lower Hutt in New Zealand, has produced a series of works inspired by robots but with a distinctive Kiwi flavor. You can see more examples of his prints at his website ( where he has on sale a range of prints, postcards and his unique tiki robots
[Recommended by Bob Doran]

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The online university

Oxford University started teaching as long ago as 1096 and if you wander the ancient colleges and quads you may be forgiven in feeling that little has changed there since. But, just as the Internet has transformed how we buy books, book holidays and consume all forms of media, a new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs have university education in their sights. A long and detailed article by Kevin Carey in the Washington Monthly called The Siege of Academe discusses how within a decade higher education may be totally transformed by innovations in this lucrative area. If you work in a university, are a student, or perhaps if you're looking for the next area to apply your tech skills, I recommend you read this.
[Recommended by Mark Wilson]