New York City Turning Pay Phones Into Wireless Hotspots

NYC Turning Pay Phones Into Wireless Hotspots

Remember the last time you used a pay phone? Yeah, neither do I. And it looks as if New York City is thinking the same thing as they’re working with pay phone and broadband companies to turn those old boxes into free wireless hotspots by using “military grade” antennas to spread the signal. Currently the city is running a pilot program with ten different boxes. There is currently one in Queens, two in Brookland and seven in Manhattan. If you would like to view the full list of free wireless hotspots check out this Tumblr post.

Installing one of these boxes costs roughly $2,000, which is being paid for by Van Wagner Communications. Van Wagner owns most of the city’s pay phones and would like to spread these boxes to more of NYC’s 13,000 pay phones. And while they aren’t running ads as of now, this is very likely to happen in the future to make these hotspots profitable. All future support for these wireless hotspots will be paid for by Van Wagner and other communication companies in the city.

To me, this is a great solution for reusing old pay phones. Since the mobile age is in full effect most of us rely on our mobile devices for communication and rarely find ourselves needing to use a landline or pay phone. And with all of the cell phone congestion in New York City, I think this plan will benefit everyone, even wireless carriers. What do you think? Let us know by leaving a comment on this post.

Source: Gigaom
Image Source: ishane

Smartphone on Four Wheels: Fun Vii

Toyota has unveiled the Fun Vii. It’s a fun concept car that has brought in a new twist into the conservative auto industry. Vii stands for Vehicle Fun Interactive Internet.”  Though media is a very impotrant part of our culture today, being inspired  by these social media concepts that define the very world that we live in is nothing new. But apply these concepts on a car and you have some zing. The  Tokyo Motor Show 2011, which is just  around  the corner, has given its theme as    “Mobility can change the world” that was used as an inspiration by  Toyota for the Vii.

Toyota  based its car on a smartphone for this project, which has allowed them to make radical changes on our normal perceptions of a “car”. So it still runs on four wheels and all that, but there are these few cosmetic changes that will affect our perceptions. For example,  consider  the touch-screen door.

Ready for more? No more one-color only for your car. With the Vii, you can customize the car’s exterior aka the wallpaper.

The Vii brings the network inside your car. You will be able to communicate with everything from location services for instructions to other  smart phones  (the ones  without  four wheels) using the Vii’s inbuilt assistant. For example, you can turn on the air conditioning before you enter the car.  How cool is that?

It could have been just another electric car produced by just another very fuel-efficient company. Toyota’s hybrid cars have been a hit all over the world for their fuel-efficiency, cost, and reliability. The Vii is an example of how we can look at a standard a bit differently. Though, there are no official plans from Toyota about the launch of the Vii, the public reaction to their concept car will be a likely litmus test to determine just how soon the Vii will hit our roads. That day is one that I do look forward to with much anticipation.

Images from

Snapkeys is a Mind-Reading Imaginary Keyboard

Disclaimer: the veracity of the application/service in question is unknown. Whatever is said in this post comes directly from the website of the application, and we really have no idea about how it actually works. For all reasons and purposes, we will suppose that the application is magical and will actually work as it says, or that it is fake.


Now that the rather long disclaimer is done with, I really hope it’s magic at work when you use Snapkeys. At least it looks that way.

However there are no indications of how it exactly works. Although there are quite a few people typing away at blank screens on their iPads and iPhones, there is still no definitely clue as to how this revolutionaryproduct will actually work.

Perhaps you have to train it to respond to certain parts of the screen (in which case the imaginary interfaceselling point is basically moot), or it will start off with an algorithm that emulates a QWERTY keyboard and makes guesses as one types on one row and the next. That is, if I wanted to write MAT, I’d press the lowest row on the right, the middle row on the left and the top row on the left. How it’d interpret it differently than BATis a very valid question, and I’m afraid I have no answers to that except this conjecture: it’s either fake or there’s some sorcery at work here. Or if it works that way at all it probably has just two rows (4 keys in total). I am quite befuddled here.

The Snapkeys website is spartan on the details, and the downloads page (which threw up a suspicious warning on Chrome) just had wallpapers. Nothing yet.

Ninja moves from the sword’s point of view

I tried making the title better than URLesque’s, and as you can see, I failed miserably. Let’s face it, nothing introduces the video below better than Guy puts camera at the end of sword, takes awesome video. That title is full of #win.

So, what happened? Exactly what the title says. At Swordfish 2010, the Historical Martial Arts conference that takes place in Gothernberg, Sweden, a few people had a wacky idea of duct taping a GoPro Hero wearable sports camera at the end of the sword. They taped it well enough that even with fast moves, the camera does not budge from its place. While the Swordfish event itself is a serious and well known affair, the people who put the camera on the sword added fun to the seriousness of the conference.

As a result, the people around the sword seem to be revolving and spinning around the camera (while it remains stationary). Three people try out the sword-cam, each with different speeds. It’s almost like a level advancement, as each user figures out that the camera is not going to budge and notches up the speed.

But let’s all agree on one thing: the video is awesomeness unparalleled, thanks to YouTube user ryrlen.

Sixty Symbols Educates You Through the Power of YouTube

The good folks at the University of Nottingham have put together sixty videos on a variety of topics, aiming to educate you (the young learner with a rapt internet-induced attention deficit), on some of the most mind boggling facts and facets of our science.

In other words, we live in a very very strange universe filled with squiggly diagrams and improbability that approaches Douglas Adams’ metaphorical science fiction escapades. Everything from Schrödinger’s Cat, infinity, vuvuzelas, quantum tunneling and Feynman’s squiggly diagrams have been put up in a mysterious-looking site.


Each video has an assortment of nerdy scientists explaining each phenomenon in the most non-confusing way possible (which is a paradox in itself, because trust me nothing is crazier than quantum physics. Nothing). The scientists, however, have done quite a marvelous job at explaining these concepts fairly well, and the project page itself is quite friendly:-

Ever been confused by all the letters and squiggles used by scientists?

Hopefully this site will unravel some of those mysteries.

Sixty Symbols is a collection of videos about physics and astronomy presented by experts from The University of Nottingham.

They aren’t lessons or lectures – and this site has never tried to be an online reference book.

The films are just fun chats with men and women who love their subject and know a lot about it!

Head over to SixtySymbols to get your science fix for the day! (via ReadWriteWeb)

XWave: The iPhone App That Almost Reads Your Mind

Ok, so the app doesn’t exactly reads your mind but it visualizes whatever brain waves  XWave head gear senses while clamped to your head. The head gear costs $100 and once you put it on, it senses your brain waves and analyzes them to provide some very useful information. The iPhone app is free of cost and interacts with the head gear once it is inserted into the ear phone jack of your phone.

The gadget uses patented NeuroSky ThinkGear technology, essentially sensing analog electrical brain waves and converting them into digital signals that can be displayed on an interface and programmed. The device is currently based on  algorithms  that can capture signals related to “attention”, “meditation” and physical blinking of eyes. For example, one of the graphics that are displayed on the iPhone app is a ball that you can raise if you really focus your thoughts on any topic or thought. Moreover, the app measures your level of relaxation and dynamically displays it through a shift of colors on the screen.

The app also has a generic visualizer screen that displays through interesting graphics what kind of activity is going on in your brain right now. To clarify again, the gadget reads your brain waves and not your actual thoughts. The device is obviously not a perfect science yet but is definitely a great example of the kind of technology we should expect to see down the road. Over all, it is a great fun app to have if you a extra hundred bucks to spend on the gadget.

[Via Mashable]

Supermassive Collage of Internet Favicons is Massively Awesome

Internet security site released this amazing collage of favicons (the little icons that appear in the URL bar of your web-browser) in one huge image. What they basically did was that they scoured the entire interwebs, picking up the top sites and their relevant favicons and putting it all together in one huge site. In their own words:-

A large-scale scan of the top million web sites (per Alexa traffic data) was performed in early 2010 using the Nmap Security Scanner and its scripting engine. As seen in the New York Times, Slashdot,Gizmodo, Engadget, and

We retrieved each site’s icon by first parsing the HTML for a link tag and then falling back to /favicon.ico if that failed. 328,427 unique icons were collected, of which 288,945 were proper images. The remaining 39,482 were error strings and other non-image files. Our original goal was just to improve our http-favicon.nse script, but we had enough fun browsing so many icons that we used them to create the visualization below.


And whad’ya know? Techie-Buzz is in this image too!


Pretty sweet eh? Thanks to urlesque.

Live-Composed Music Album on a Single Microchip!

1-Bit Symphony is exactly what the title of this post says. It comes on a CD jewel case and is very, very minimalist.


No it’s not a CD. It’s a microchip that’s embedded on a CD-sized jewel case. There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack that sits at the edge of the case. All you need to do is plug in your headphones, turn on the recordingand listen!

It’s not so much as a recording as a pre-programmed algorithm embedded in the chip that presents the music liveto your ears. Chiptunes at their finest. Tristan Perich’s experimental gadget/music-player is something that can only be experienced. Pre-order it from Cantaloupe Music for $29!

Video of the gadget follows:-

Tristan Perich: 1-Bit Symphony (Part 1: Overview) from Tristan Perich on Vimeo.

Mozilla Account Manager May Simplify Online Identity Management [Concepts]

Online Identity Mozilla ConceptsBeing an early adopter of technology, I usually sign up for beta services as soon as they are released. Now, with that I have hundreds of accounts I need to remember and keep track of. Most browsers make this easier by providing an option to remember username and passwords, however, it still leaves a lot to be desired.

Mozilla Account Manager Concepts

Mozilla is working on a new concept called “Account Manager” which will dramatically simplify how users connect to websites. The initial prototype of the concept integrates into Firefox and allows users to sign in and sign out of websites from the toolbar.

Mozilla Account Manager

The basic concept behind account manager is to allow users to simplify the process of signing in and out of your web accounts. Once you install the add-on you will see a key sign next to the location bar. Clicking on which will show you an option to connect to the current site.

Mozilla Account Manager Connect

Clicking on connect will sign you into the account for the current site. You can also use the same key button to sign out of the account from the current site. The current add-on is in just a prototype so don’t expect it to work very well. More details follow below.

What Is Account Manager?

According to the Mozilla Wiki, here is what the Account Manager Project aims to produce:

  • A protocol definition that sites can use to define their account-and-session management features in a format a web browser can understand
  • An implementation of this protocol as a Firefox add-on.

The goal is to help users manage the process of “connecting” to a site, in a way that allows us to use secure browser chrome, and supports multiple authentication mechanisms.

The account manager is an evolution of the Firefox password manager and the Weave identity components (OpenID + auto-login). It will help users manage logins and profile information for each site, and it will automate currently manual tasks such as signing up for sites, generating passwords, etc. The first prototype will have support for “traditional” login methods (example., form + cookie), but it will also have some support for OpenID/federated logins.

Account Manager Standards

Mozilla is basically creating a new standard called “HTTP Extensions for Account Management and Session Identification” for websites, which will lay down the specifications on how this unified Account Manager will work. There is an early draft for the concept available here.

Websites which follow the specifications in the draft will automatically allow Account Manager to manage them.

Trying Out Account Manager

Account Manager is just a prototype right now and only works with a select few sites, including Google, Yahoo and . If you want to give the account manager a shot, head over to this page to download it.

Account Manager requires that you have the passwords stored in the password manager for it to work.

The Musical “Tin Man”

The modern age is more attuned to technology than any other era before it. For instance, you don’t need pen and paper to express your thoughts any more. We are quite content with the use of technology for taking pictures with a digital camera or even creating digital art. Essentially, in the latter case at least, we are letting artificially generated images be considered the fruits of creativity. In such a case, is it truly unnatural to give music composed artificially the same respect that the compositions of the musical masters of yore have commanded?

It is this very debate that has puritans squirming and composer-cum-computer programmer David Cope and his innovative approach to creativity searching far and wide for vindication.

Cope’s brainchild is Emily Howell, a composer who is one of a kind. She is actually a computer program. Through Emily, Cope carries out what he calls “algorithmic composition” — studying classical music composed by the masters, working out the seamless manner in which the notes were brought together, and then applying that knowledge to create new variations in notes. In other words, composition with the help of algorithms.

Emily whipped up a storm of controversy when word spread about her existence. However, those who had heard her compositions without knowing that she was not a human being, found the music indistinguishable from the pieces composed by human maestros. They even went on to say that the music was deeply moving.

So is Emily plagiarism or pure genius? Is she grossest disrespect to human creativity or a triumph of art, science or even both? Emily may be condemned and her creator called the heartless “Tin Man” from The Wizard of Oz.   Her compositions may be called soul-less by those who know of her origins in the hands of man. It is clear however that, in spite of everything, she cannot be ignored.

Visit this site to hear some of Emily’s compositions first hand!

[via podcomplex]