Get Rid of My Glasses?

I wear glasses and I hate them. It’s not vanity, really (if I were vain, I’d slim down by eating fewer donuts). It’s hard to keep glasses clean and free of scratches, and my eyesight is so poor without them that I live in fear of breaking them. I’ve been told I am a poor candidate for Lasik, contacts are uncomfortable, and so I may be stuck with glasses forever.

This week, I came across a new breakthrough in display technology that may help me. Researchers at Microsoft, MIT and UC Berkley have created a new display technology that adjusts the sharpness of an image based on the eyesight of the person looking at the screen. The technology (and this is simplifying it significantly) uses algorithms to alter the on-screen image based on a person’s glasses prescription and alters the light from individual pixels to create a sharper image that the person can see without their glasses.

At this point, the research is in its earliest stages, so real world application is years away. The technology also has limits, such as the inability to adjust for the eyesight differences of multiple users at one time.

Researchers working on the technology hope that over time the display technology can be slimmed down to a small piece of plastic that can fit over television and computer monitors and other displays. The technology is scheduled for demonstration this week at SIGGRAPH, an annual computer graphics conference, and at CES in January.

GoTenna Takes Text Messaging Off the Cell Network

GoTenna is nice if you want to go off the grid, or just go camping.

Using a small external antenna, GoTenna enables users to send text messages directly and securely from smartphone-to-smartphone. Currently in preorder, this product provides a way for people to communicate without using cell or data networks during a natural disaster or service disruption, or when a user is in a remote location without traditional cellular service.

From the user’s perspective, the system functions the same way as other messaging applications, such as WhatsApp or Viber. When paired with your smartphone and a friend’s device, a text message can be sent to another GoTenna device, or to all the other GoTenna users in the area. The message also can include GPS data, based on free maps available from GoTenna, to share locations. Read more

NTCA, ITTA, Telecompetitor: Driving the ‘New Normal’ at BroadbandVision 2014

I spent part of last weekend in New York City visiting a friend in the hospital. My friend and I grew up in the same Midwestern city. She moved to New York for school and decided, somewhat inexplicably, that big city living beats things like fresh air, grass and easy street parking. The hospital was only several blocks away from where she went to grad school, and I joked that in all these years she had not gotten very far. And, as I walked the surrounding area, I was reminded that even in New York, there are communities – each neighborhood has its own flavor, its own distinctive atmosphere, and given the population density, nearly all the resources one could conceivably need for regular daily living.

But, this post is not about ruminations about city living or what I saw outside the hospital – it’s about what I saw inside the hospital, and the amazing things that, curiously, did not amaze me.

Hospitals are filled with lights and sounds – everything from a basic IV drip to advanced medical technology beeps and illuminates, so there is every expectation that a patient’s room can look a little like Mardi Gras with all the blinking lights. The flickers that caught my eye most, however, were the small blue LEDs in the ceiling: the ones set into Cisco WiFi routers. Read more

FSBC (the Flat Stanley Broadband Challenge)

Not strictly a set of FSBC photos, but tangentially related, nonetheless.

No free wi-fi (3)

We need this . . .

FSBC 728

. . . because of this.

Technology That Reduces Food Waste

Making the grocery list in my house usually takes place while standing in front of the refrigerator and the pantry, and it often includes tossing out food past the expiration date. I see this as not unlike taking cash out of my wallet and tossing it in the garbage can. It’s about 5:00 p.m. on Sunday and I’m making the grocery list and trying to come up with ideas for a New Edge article for this week. Thus, the topic at hand was born.

To start, here are some interesting statistics on wasted food: according to this study, food loss at the retail and consumers levels, in 2008, amounted to about $165 billion. The amount of food that consumers waste, in dollar terms, comes out to about 10% of their annual food expenditures and almost 1% of their total disposable income.

This app, however, is one possible answer to someone like me, who wastes food and wants to do better. It’s called 222 million tons, in references to the amount of food wasted by industrialized nations each year. It helps users to optimize planning their meals and their shopping lists based on household size. Love Food Hate Waste is a similar app, and they have partnered with Samsung to better educate consumers on how to store and organize food in ways that minimize waste.

Also, there’s an app, Wise Up on Waste, that helps restaurants reduce waste. It helps them track waste by type – spoilage, preparation, or customer plate waste. The data is then compiled and compared industry-wide to help restaurants identify best practices to reduce waste.

And finally, because all that wasted food mostly goes into the garbage, a company called Harvest Power turns it and other organic material into energy. It uses anaerobic digestion (a common method of turning waste into renewable energy) and composting to transform wasted food into energy to power homes and businesses.

“I Want to Social Network with My Parents”…Said No Young Person, Ever

Youth migrate toward social media sites that their parents are not members of or are trolling, online security firm McAfee reported as part of the findings of a recent survey of more than 1,500 American young adult men and women ages 10 to 18. At 97%, YouTube is the most frequented site by survey respondents, followed by Instagram at 92%.

The survey was part of McAfee’s “2014 Teens and the Screen Study: Exploring Online Privacy, Social Networking and Cyberbullying,” and was conducted in April. The survey was split evenly among age and gender.

One of the more disturbing findings was that the percentage of respondents that had personally witnessed cyberbullying online had more than tripled, from 27% in 2013 to 87% this year. Of those indicating they had themselves been cyberbullied, 72% said it was due to appearance, 26% to race or religion, and 22% said that it was based on their sexual preference.

“Parents must discuss online activity with their children to better ensure their safety and security online,” said McAfee chief privacy officer Michelle Dennedy. “Whether a child is a victim or an instigator of cruel behavior such as cyberbullying, the negative behavior can deeply affect their identity and their reputation.”

Also frightening for parents: while 90% of survey respondents indicated that they believe their parents trust them to do what’s right online, 45% said they would change their online behavior if they knew their parents were watching. Nearly half—49%—have regretted something they have posted online.

Home Security Solutions Focus on Recycling, Efficiency (Actually, Old iPhones and Compression)

A situation in which remote monitoring with push notification could have a saved a lot of heartache. Or lunch. (Tom and Jerry are trademarks and copyrights of Turner Entertainment Co.)

I knew I was “old school” when I contacted a local school and asked if they could use a couple of old film cameras (a Pentax P30 and Canon Rebel). “Sure,” came the response, “We have a shelf on which we keep antique and vintage cameras and we could place your donation there.”

I get it. Technology is outpacing me. I scratched my head recently when I advised my daughter to take my old Blackberry on a school outing instead of her camera; the camera is valuable – the Blackberry, not so much.

I’m not the only one using old phones as cameras. Developer Manything offers an app that turns your old iPhone (or iPod, or iPad) into a remote wireless camera – perfect for home security or setting up creepy practical jokes. Download the app on the recording device, and then log-in using either Facebook or an email account to receive push notifications and remote monitoring capabilities on a second iOS device.

Those without a spare Apple product can turn to Blink. Or, at least hopefully will be able to turn to Blink. Read more

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