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Another HALTING STATE moment ...

Watching this YouTube video, followed in turn by this one.

(The first is a demo of how to turn a Nintendo Wii remote into a head-tracking display controller. The second video is a demo of how to integrate Second Life structures and avatars into a real-world meeting using real-time video editing. Put 'em together with a 4G mobile phone and head-mounted display and you've basically got prototypes of the by-then-ubiquitous tech I was talking about in HALTING STATE.)

And in other news, if you haven't heard of Anonymous and their internet-mediated War on Scientology you need to watch the video in that first link. And it's not just some oddball hackers in a basement somewhere; the demonstrations in meatspace around the world are a quite impressive example of delocalized transnational internet-mediated political action that has got to be scaring the living daylights out of any number of insecure and/or corrupt politicians.

52 Comments

1:

The one problem with the IR trackers is that they require a Wiimote at a fixed location. Not mobile yet. Got parts and 2 Wiimotes to get true 3d tracking. Just need time to do the assembly/coding now.

I can't wait till Anonymous gets their hands on this info:
http://www.boingboing.net/2008/02/27/l-ron-hubbard-plagia.html
Apparently L. Ron plagiarized big chunks of his books from a German manuscript.

2:

I watched the demo of the head-tracking and perspective idea last week or so; very interesting. I use TrackIR, a head-tracking device developed for flight and racing sims, though not confined to that. Gives an amazing sense of realism to flightsims.

I'm a member of the James Randi forum, and Scientology is a much-discussed phenomenon. We've been watching the activities of "Anonymous" for some weeks now. There's a Scientology "church" just North of the university here, and many of the students participated in the demonstration.
I remember an interview with Harlan Ellison relating how Hubbard had told him there was no real money in science fiction; if a fellow wanted to get rich he'd start a new religion....

3:

monopole @ 1,

All due respect to BoingBoing, but that document is fairly well known. In fact there's a translation of it online that was put up about 8 years ago:

http://www.scientologie.org/english.htm

There's a fairly well-established pattern of 'borrowing' in LRH's work, from old DOD procedures, popular hypnosis manuals, and even his well-known 'Dianetics' is traceable to a book by Dr William Sargant entitled "Battle for the Mind".

4:

are you in SL?

5:

I was at the London stand-offs with scientology with a few anarchist types I know. The Anonymous kids, they were mostly very young-prolly late teens, put on a very impressive show which lasted over six hours.

One journalist said there were 400 of them present, though we thought the true number was more like 200-250. About 2/3rds of them were wearing V for Vendetta masks.

One of my friends got to the 1st demo at Blackfriars early and was approached by a large scientologist who asked him if he wanted to settle things with a fist fight. Luckily a cop turned up with a video camera and the guy backed off.

I still haven't photoshopped my own pictures yet, but there's a brief account of the day by a member of the band 'Deathboy' here: http://deathboy.livejournal.com/1082404.html

The cops were okay to most of the crowd but stopped and searched a few people who they thought were from London Class War, on rather spurious historical grounds. Probably the only time _not_ wearing a mask at a demo marked them out for special attention..

6:

M. Werner @ 2

Hubbard said that to a lot of people; he wasn't secretive about his motives at all. I first saw that statement in a letter he sent to John Campbell in the 1950's; I doubt it's still in print anywhere now, though.

Of course he was right; very few people get rich writing, and nobody gets rich writing SF. On the other hand, he wasn't a very good writer; he may have realized that and decided he needed a change of career anyway.

Charlie, I've got a demo of a motion-tracker running on my laptop, using the camera in the lid. It needs a special target; I can just print out copies and cut them out to fit on my fingers. It's free software, except for one piece, the visual detector, which is free for personal, non-commercial use (like I'm going to go make a motion-character animation to compete with Dreamworks?). I bet I could cram it into a phone right now; I doubt it would be fast enough on the average ARM or whatever runs in current phones; but wait until 2016, and that'll take care of itself.

7:

Charlie, while I agree on the general trajectory of the ubiquitous AR tech you described in HS, I disagree on the timeframe (at least the timeframe for ubiquity). I'm fairly certain that the second demo was using a pretty hefty (in terms of CPU and GPU) desktop machine to effect the AR, and it was still rather jerky. Getting all that to work smoothly enough to be not be disorienting or induce vertigo *and* stuff it into a handheld package is going to be a very tough job.

There is plenty of outright inefficiency that can in theory be squeezed out of current computer hardware and software architectures, but that's a decadal transformation in and of itself, and we haven't even started yet (symmetric multicore architectures are currently larding more inefficiencies on top for somewhat speculative parallelism benefits).

The other aspect is that both of these solutions currently rely on pre-arranged external markers for the system to situate the POV. In the urban environment the best we have right now is GPS which isn't fine-grained enough.

Ultimately, aside from the display in-and-of-itself, a general-purpose system that doesn't involve public-works projects to plaster or embed machine-readable markers everywhere will probably have to use a combination of GPS for coarse-grained geolocation, public 3d models of environments, multi-axis rangefinding to do medium-grained location within those environments (ie. x.y meters away from various hard features such as walls), and finally machine vision to do the finest tracking of POV to match the AR to. If the machine vision part is good enough you *might* dispense with the intermediate rangefinding. In any case it is going to be a pretty hefty computational load in and of itself, especially the last part.

I am sure that when the parts of this all come together it will happen rather suddenly, but I just do not see it becoming ubiquitous in a wearable form-factor in the next nine years.

8:

I was checking the Wii Remote. It has an accelerometer inside as well, and apparently connects with Bluetooth. There's Windows software which can use it as a controller.

Reading the description on Wikipedia, I suspect that keeping the Remote static, and just relying on the pointer function, may lose useful data. There's a mention of the zccelerometer being used for tilt sensing, and I noticed in the video that there wasn't much sign of pitch and roll, or vertical translation.

Speaking as a bit of a CGI geek, I think we can all underestimate just how much realism we would need for a game-like environment. You don't need high-power real-time graphics to overlay information, or even a virtual advertising hoarding (which is being done now at sporting events for the TV coverage). Imagine something like Google-Ads combining your location with your advertising demographic. So you see your favourite bar advertising the real ale, and I see the adverts for cider. And if some chav walks past looking for lager or alcopops his gets adverts for the coffee.

Where it gets awkward is the immersive game. A secret-agent game can just be the ordinary information environment. A hotel becomes the Freedonian Embassy. But what if you want people to look different? Turn Edinburgh into Downbelow Station? It wouldn't surprise me if there was pressure to keep the graphics from being too real. Think Doom rather than Second Life. And a game such as Flight Simulator works with fairly basic graphics.

Goodness, think of the liability issues over a first-person shooter as a VR overlay on reality.

If you want the high-quality graphics, you may have to be playing in a non-public place with extra processor support.

So I don't think CPU power is quite as big a barrier as it seems.

9:

If we're talking about the environment of Halting State, GPS is useful, but the plave is going to be saturated with some sort of wifi, and all those access points could be transmitting their location. They maybe don't even need to be like a GPS satellite. You can already combine GPS and signal strength to develop an estimate of where the access points are, as you walk down the street.

And if you have that sort of ubiquitous wifi, part of your packet format might be the GPS error.

10:

modern japanese cell phones are good enough to decode "QR" 2d barcodes, which if placed frequently enough should give you your 3d position.

When I was doing research into the codes it appeared like they were fairly frequently embedded into advertising in Japan. It might be possible to provide an online database that mapped that "'public'-works project for all those machine-readable markers" to a current high resolution location.

Last year a group demoed a "wearable" gadget can turn the real world into ascii art in real time.

http://www.engadget.com/2007/09/07/vr-goggles-turn-the-real-world-into-ascii-art/

11:

If you want to do anything remotely practical with this sort of tech, you wouldn't use a Wiimote - the IR sensor bit is far too limiting. Occlusion, line-of-sight, angle, range - it's Not Good.

But it's comparatively easy to track location with a magnetic or ultrasonic sensor, and orientation with an accelerometer/gyroscope combo, which currently costs a couple of hundred quid.

You could do some very interesting things with that technology plus consumer-level motion capture (which is so close I can almost touch it).

12:

Another thought: how does your optical mouse work? I seem to recall some SF writer using the chips as the basis for a star tracker for an interstellar ship: they pick up the relative movement of tiny imperfections in the surface they run on. Use that approach, and the ordinary clutter of the environment goves you a lot of smaller-scale movement data.

No, I doubt you could get something useful by gutting current mice. And moving objects in the visual field would throw things off.

We're at the prototype stage, and doing something neat with a thirty quid toy is a useful demo.

13:

Yeah, anyone can play with that stuff -- I mean, you need to understand the tech, but the parts are nearly cereal-packet cheap and no longer especially proprietary, so any sufficiently-motivated amateur can start playing without barriers to entry.

A Wiimote is indeed just a Bluetooth device and syncs just fine to my Mac (and presumably a PC just as easily; I have no idea of the current state of Bluetooth under Windows or Linux). It doesn't show up as a true Human Interface Device (in the USB spec sense) but code to read it is widely available.


Inside is an IR camera, a 3D solid-state accelerometer which can give clues to motion or orientation (although trying to do both at the same time is... uh... ambiguous) as well as the usual buttons, blinkenlights and a feedback vibe. It doesn't have a gyro (the PS3's palindromic controller does) but the IR positioning data can help solve the accelerometer data.


All this makes it a quite nifty tooltoy for UI tinkering/research/whatever.

The iPhone has the accelerometers, wifi, CheaPS* and a camera, so you might be able to put together some kind of Gibsonian "Virtual Light" application for it when the SDK comes out (March 6th according to the rumour-mill). All the remote-controls seem to have vanished from my desk so I can't test if the camera picks up IR right now. :P

(* the preferred term amongst my friends for approximating GPS using cell tower and wifi hotspot data.)

14:

...a quite impressive example of delocalized transnational internet-mediated political action that has got to be scaring the living daylights out of any number of insecure and/or corrupt politicians.

A million people marched through the streets of London in 2003 and the government ignored them. I don't think a few hundred activists complaining about a wacky American cult will make much of an impression. The internet-mediated aspects of these protests will, if anything, make it easier for the State to track activists, once they get the kinks in the monitoring system ironed out. Unless the protesters organise themselves on an instant flash-mob basis with every activist behaving like a lifeboat crew member or an attendee at a late 80s rave-party, something only full-time campaigners, the unemployed or the young (teenagers and university undergraduates outside of exam periods) can manage. Anything involving extensive preparation will give the State time to prepare and initiate containment measures.

So you see your favourite bar advertising the real ale, and I see the adverts for cider. And if some chav walks past looking for lager or alcopops his gets adverts for the coffee.

Let's build social exclusion right into the system. Who wants to live in a shared information-universe anyway? When people walk down the street in the future, depending on their social class, they will see totally different streets. This will do wonders for social cohesion and mutual understanding and tolerance.

15:
A million people marched through the streets of London in 2003 and the government ignored them. I don't think a few hundred activists complaining about a wacky American cult will make much of an impression.
As one of those million people, and someone following Anonymous' work with interest (tho I haven't participated), I'd say that Anon is interesting because it's a different kind of protest. And it's worth noting, regarding...
something only full-time campaigners, the unemployed or the young (teenagers and university undergraduates outside of exam periods) can manage.
...that according to Warren Ellis, "Without giving anything away, I know that some veterans in the protest and independent-media businesses are now advising Anonymous."
  • Anon protests are not like other protests I've seen -- almost always dreary affairs with The Usual Suspects turning up to try and sell each other copies of Socialist Worker and waving Free Palestine and Ban Nukes and Ban GM Food placards even if the protest is about post-office opening hours or increased bike lanes. They're funnier, more energetic, less angry and cynical.
  • Anon has an interesting, dual-pronged, "psy-ops"-inspired campaign, involving creepiness online and outright ridicule offline. You're less likely to see protestor/police clashes if the police are themselves trying hard not to grin. Can you imagine anyone getting arrested for rickrolling?
  • Anon, like an ant-nest, displays organised behaviour without any clear trackable line-of-command for "The State(tm)" to follow (ants are not controlled by the Queen, or anyone or anything; they follow simple localised rules, such as "how many Scout ants have I bumped into recently?")

Will it achieve anything? Well, from the backchatter I hear, it's certainly increased awareness amongst students. I think fewer of them will take "free stress tests" (the recruitment centre is pretty close to UCL halls of residence, housing lots of teens away from home for the first time. Hmm.).


And mostly these things are about nudging the zeitgeist, gently nudging public opinion. The anti-war march failed because there were two powerful forces nudging the zeitgeist in the other direction (american policy being pushed down on our government from above; and the politics of fear). There's little push-back against Anon because Scientology doesn't know how to present itself in situations like this; with dedicated anti-Scientologists, they can paint them as "creepy stalker guys", but a bunch of random kids taking the piss? Not so much. Anon is a very aikido move.


Biggest threat to Anon? ADD.

16:

So you see your favourite bar advertising ...

Huh. I see enough advertisements, really. Is this really the one application of this technology? More marketing? This is almost as compelling as that "Your fridge will tell you that your milk's gone bad" bullshit.

17:

I don't know if it happened in other countries, but there were a lot of V for Vendetta masks here in the UK, and that does play off the whole Guy Fawkes thing. It's a bit of our culture, which has gradually got shifted away from celebrating the saving of King and Parliament to almost celebrating the terrorist.

Guy Fawkes: the only man to enter Parliament with honest intentions.

And taking the piss out of Scientology is hardly a threat to government.

Anonymous: The Guy Fawkes Memorial Formation Engram Display Team.

18:

Nokia Maps 2.0 looks like it will deliver on some of this stuff; they're looking at using orientation to match a database of stuff to 3-D maps, so if you're pointing at X it'll tell you all about it.

19:

That first link to Anonymous has now been deleted on YouTube, some time in the last couple of hours, as near as I can tell. But maybe earlier.

20:

Sebastien @16: I want AR goggles combined with JunkBuster! Tweaked for meatspace ads.

They want to steal our attention? Fine: I'm going to steal mine right back!

21:

A different Halting State moment .....
In the book it is stated that war is uneconomic as an asset-stripping operation, referring back to 1939 and the Iraq war.

True, but when did that ever stop the loonies?
A very early Nobel Peace-Prize winner wrote a book on it (called I think, the great illusion) showing how a general European war would wreck the place economically, and wasn't going to happen - in 1911, I think.
Norman Angell?
And yet, he was correct.

Even worse, is the case where economics DOESN'T MATTER, because GOD/ALLAH is on you side, and you are going to bring about the millenium/12th imam etc [insert name of specifireligious delusion here] ...
Which is what makes Ahmenidjad, and the US ulra-right religious balmpots so dangerous.

22:

Perhaps not a Halting State moment, but certainly a fellow traveler:

"Whisky of Mass Destruction - how the US spied on a tiny island distillery"
http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scotland/Whisky-of-Mass-Destruction-.2465125.jp

23:

Charlie @ 20 Steve mann [eyetap.org] has developed a system that can do real time real world ad removal ... as well as replacing said ads with to do notes or directions . Not available commercially yet tho :(

24:

..that according to Warren Ellis, "Without giving anything away, I know that some veterans in the protest and independent-media businesses are now advising Anonymous."

So anon. has consulted media advisers just like everyone else in the business?

In my day, you knocked up a cheap banner and marched under it. Now you conduct a focus group study and determine the best design using marketing techniques.

Progress of a sort, I suppose.

You're less likely to see protestor/police clashes if the police are themselves trying hard not to grin. Can you imagine anyone getting arrested for rickrolling?

The 2003 anti-war demonstration featured street performers, clowns and circus acts as well. The anti-G8 protests also count among the attending activists a fair few people engaged in street theatre, 'culture jamming' displays. The police in the US and Italy still kicked the shit out of them.

Anon. and his pals have taken on a relatively unpopular American-originated cult that many mainstream religious groups also oppose. Most people view the Scientologists as nutjobs, popular among notoriously flaky types such as Hollywood movie stars. They don't possess much political muscle although they do use the civil law in a fairly oppressive manner to batter down any criticism. Anon. doesn't threaten anyone important in conventional politics or business circles hence he and his group don't risk a police beating.

No one will face losing their job for taking part in an anti-Scientologist demo unless they work for Tom Cruise or John Travolta. Take part in an anti-Arm's trade or an anti-G8 protest and your boss might decide that he has no further use for you.

Biggest threat to Anon? ADD.

Exactly. He has become popular because the Internet community values novelty and the opportunity for laughing at freaks (not anon. - the Scientologists). When the community gets bored with his antics they'll move on to the next 'act'.

25:

I think you have the wrong end of the stick, Ray.

Anon. and his pals [...] He has become popular because [...]

Um. Anon is not a "he". Anon is not a person. Not even a pseudonymous one. Anon is like Spartacus: Anyone is Anon if they claim to be, and many people do/are. When "Anon" consults "advisors", for instance, it simply means some of the people who claim the Anon name have done this; and if the others listen, it's only because they think the advice is good (or funny...).
So anon. has consulted media advisers just like everyone else in the business? In my day, you knocked up a cheap banner and marched under it. Now you conduct a focus group study and determine the best design using marketing techniques.

Er, no. Where do you equate "veteran protesters" with focus groups? If you're referring to the "independent media", I understood that to mean IndyMedia-like grassroots organisations that have some experience of protests, the filming thereof, and processing and serving large quantities of video afterwards. Of course, I could be wrong -- it's not like I was there -- but I don't think a collection of forum trolls is about to go hire Chiat-Day, not even with a Paypal Donate button. :P

I was in the 2003 anti-war demo, and there might've been street performers -- I only saw/heard drummers -- but they were drowned out by the trudging mass of people. In a way, for that protest, the sheer volume of people was the point, but having a few jugglers mixed in with a million strangers, is a completely different proposition to a tight-knit, happy-friendly crowd who share a common culture (juvenile though it may be), are united by it, and can share in the laughter together.

You seem to be very focussed on police beatings. If you're a veteran protestor yourself, I can see why. I think it might be distracting you from the rest of the discussion, though. Protestor-police confrontations can come from a variety of sources: State oppression; crowd agitators; poorly though-out tactics on either side raising tension levels. Anon's style acts to diffuse tensions and discourage agitation. So they're not a panacea against state oppression? *shrugs* That doesn't make it any the less interesting or useful.

26:

Some of the "Anonymous" video I've seen is a bit frightening. And there's the whole business of the Fox News report, which makes them out to be a bunch of malicious hackers, possible by confusing "anonymous" and "Anonymous". But, given the voice mods, it is almost dangerously easy to get into black propaganda. Do it right (which isn't so easy) and you could wreck Anonymous.

Take as an instance a response I've seen to the Fox News report. It's not like the clouds-and-voiceover video that announced the move against Scientology. It's a Guy Fawkes mask, and the distorted voice, and there's something creepy about the ideas expressed.

How can anyone tell if it is genuine?

Now, if you want to put together a team of line-dancing Guy Fawkes impersonators, chanting anti-Scientology slogans, and put it on the web, and call yourself "Anonymous", it might just work. And can anyone call it faked. But talking about laughing at plane crashes? That's what made me wonder.

Me, I've wondered what could be done with CGI: a lip-synced spokesthing that isn't a real person, but which is identifiable. What was that news service with a virtual newsreader? Sort of the fingerprint of an imaginary finger.

27:

A quick note: the Playstation 3 Sixaxis controller also uses Bluetooth, as well as an optional USB connector which can carry data and recharge the internal battery. Usability with Windows appears possible, but the reports I Googled implied it could be erratic.

Don't you have the makings of an INS here?

28:

Anonymous seems to have a few old style tactics. I think they would probably hurt scientology a lot more by pushing comic books with verifiable claims, or run a "about cults" organization, or set up a system for aiding people to sue scientology for every actionable infraction.

Halting State looks at behavior using future technologies. Why isn't Anonymous trying to out think their opponent?

29:

Speculation: Anonymous isn't trying to influence Scientology. It's trying to influence the media, and others with the power to attack Scientology. A protest is a media event.

30:

Er, no. Where do you equate "veteran protesters" with focus groups?

A poor and failed attempt at humour through exaggeration on my part. The whole of the anon. 'campaign' seems like something dreamed up by a marketing graduate as an Internet project. I wonder whether the prime movers who got this whole show on the road will eventually step out of the shadows and reveal their true identities, just in time to capitalize on the media interest before it wains. It reminds me a bit of the Fathers against Injustice superhero stunts a few years ago.

You seem to be very focussed on police beatings.

Sorry about that obsession of mine. I referenced police violence toward demonstrators purely as an indicator of the seriousness of the protest. If you target the Scientology cult, no-one cares outside of its deluded membership. Target someone politically and economically important using the same techniques as anon. and I don't think you'll get the coppers laughing along with your antics.

But if someone wants to try, I will observe with interest whether they avoid rough handling by the powers that be.

Perhaps they could have a go at the Freemasons. They've a few friends among the boys in blue I believe.

31:

Looking inside a Wii. I think you underestimate the difficulty of deploying a near-universal augmented reality environment, though. Especially in masonry cities like those of Europe; the signals won't go through a lot of those walls, and the position-tracking hardware is likely to get lost without them. And the expense--we're talking about deployment that probably involves more hardware and more complex hardware than the old wireline telephone networks, and those were very expensive; in places now developing they aren't being built at all.

32:

A lot of this hardware is dirt cheap. Cellphones are the canonical example: insanely complex hardware that's cheaper than laying copper cables.

The sticking point is power, but IP over power lines is already available. A lot of the current cost is safety related. A streetlight fitting with a built-in mesh/wifi hub is installed by an electrician and doesn't need the same degree of foolproof safety.

Use wireless connection to computers, and you could put something in a surge-protected extension lead.

If you're going for public spaces with computer-controlled lighting (There's somebody walking this way, turn the light on.) adding a public wifi mesh might be mostly installing a different black box.

Think about the standard patress-box got a light switch or power socket. Many houses have all the lights on one fused circuit, so IP-over-powerline and something Bluetooth like has just networked your house. Even building from scratch, what would ethernet cabling cost to install?

IPv6, hardware smart enough to self-configure (which is what DHCP is close to), and a filter in the consumer unit to stop signals leaving the house.

It's the big urban-space networks which are difficult: far more users and far more traffic. But a lot of the virtual overlay can be transmitted as one-to-many, maybe with caching.

33:

Augmented reality advertising: the local Tesco has one of those endless loop advertising displays, changes every mninute or so. That's the sort of advert I can imagine in AR. Except that instead of a loop, you get something maybe a little more focused on your marketing demographic.

How much will people in AR envirnments be publicising about themselves? Can the advertisers get at the personal identity associated with the here-I-am signal needed for mobile phones?

IPv6, you're likely to be carrying several unique IP addresses.

If I've just bought a copy of $_BIG_MOVIE_, will I still get adverts for it everywhere I look?

Look at the current fuss about Phorm, who are alleged to be analysing the web pages we access through our ISPs, so as to create personalised advertising streams.

Upside; maybe I'd avoid the braindead irrelevancies.

Downside; what if nobody in election season sees advertising from what the system decides is the "wrong" party?

34:

Randolph: there are other uses for metropolitan-area wireless networks. I know of one town in the UK (population in six digits) where the council is installing a wifi base station in every street light -- and providing open access for everyone. Not out of the goodness of their hearts; it's so they can get at the feed from the webcams that will also be built into every street light. And I'm willing to bet that they'll also be broadcasting positional data -- at the very least, it'll be possible to map their MAC address to their GPS coordinates with a high degree of accuracy.

As William Gibson remarked, "the street finds its own uses for things". I think it's fascinating to consider the possibility that we may be moving towards an AR society piggy-backed on top of a meatspace panopticon society; I suspect that city council's obsession with meatspace monitoring is going to be overrun by reality when they realize the nature of the djinn they've let out of the lamp by providing free bandwidth.

35:

David, the other stickler is deployment labor, which is immense. Remember, you not only have to have it in the street, which is relatively likely, you've got to bring it inside and that means that someone has to go to every building. In the USA, with our many wooden houses, that's often easy; it's another story with brick and stone. And all wireless technologies are vulnerable to interference, as well as intentional jamming and hacking.

WiFi is a really poor metropolitan area network technology--I doubt that will make a reliable public network. There is a technology designed for MANs, it's being deployed around the USA (and, I assume, other places). Again, though, the question of how it scales, and deadspots comes up.

36:

Randolph, I agree there are problems with such technologies as wifi and Bluetooth.

But you're missing the point of what I described. The tech I suggested might only have a vague resemblance to what would be used, but if you use the power lines to carry data through walls, and a radio link to connect the computer to the black box, you could put the black box in anything which people keep plugged in to the electrical supply.

How about a TV? Or a refrigerator?

Yeah, we're talking about the faintly ridiculous idea of a computer in everything, but these little computers would only be powerful by the standards of the Z80 era, and they wouldn't need to have any control of the object they're built into, though why shouldn't there be a way of using your mobile phone as a TV remote?

Heck, I can look across the room and see the wallwart for the DECT cordless phone system.

I'm maybe not explaining my idea well enough.

Too late for a patent now, dammit.

37:

Dave, someone would still have to actually install the whatevers, unless you made them so attractive that people bought them and installed themselves (or unless it was a legal requirement). Maybe if you put them in cable boxes--I'm not ruling it out completely. But I'm dubious, nonetheless.

38:

Charlie @ 34

Now that shows an interesting difference between motivations for unwiring cities in the US and UK. Here in Portland they justified the metro wifi cloud by saying the city services would get to use it for free; that would cut a lot of cost in networking the parking meters and the water meters, some of which are using phone lines. Or maybe that's just Portland; if our city government tried to put in cameras they'd be run out of town by evening.
Still, the idea of a limitlessly (allow me some poetic license here) free cyberspace built on top of a relentlessly patrolled physical panopticon is deliciously ironic. Like most irony, though, it would mix poorly with real life.

39:

No, what scares me is the goon involvement. They embrance the philosophy of metagaming *everything* Charlie.

Dave@8: I'm a game designer who's worked with the Wii. And yes, there are limits on the way it collects data. There's also a lot of limits on how people find it comfortable to acutually move the controllers within those..

40:

But of course the cloud doesn't work very well because the city was too cheap, and the provider's business model was nonsense. (And of course the whole thing, like all wireless networks, is subject to multiple sorts of abuse and attacks.) One of these days someone will figure out that it's easier to just provide wireless service as part of tax-funded services like roads. Bet it won't be in the USA, though. Maybe China.

41:

Dave@36, we already have net computers. I like the way they contrast as "normal features" and "digital features."

42:

Something to think about.

The maximum permitted power for a wifi node in the UK is rather less than in the USA. The UK limit is apparently 100mW, rather than 1W, and the US also allows directional aerials.

(The difference explains a few instances of apparent optimism I've seen on websites giving Wifi ranges.)

And many British houses have much more solid internal walls than is common in the USA.

Having a black-box that could connect using IP-over-powerline through the walls, and use wifi-like tech to connect to computers in the rooms, would solve problems here which might not be so common in the USA. Maybe it would be more like a cellular system.

43:

G Tingey #21- I have thought for years that the Iraq war wasn't an asset stripping war, but a transfer of money war. What better way to transfer more power and money into you friends pockets from the American taxpayer than by having a war run by the gvt?

44:

Dave;

Never had a problem in the UK with wireless node power in an issue, even one with rather solid walls.

Sure, you need something more like the ASUS wl-500g than the "home" D-link or Netgear routers, but it's still not that expensive (about �60-70 rather than 30-40).

45:

Er, me at 41, that should have been net refrigerators

Dave@42, my city has broadband over powerlines (BPL). Unfortunately, my condo is diagonally opposite where the electricity comes in to the building and I only got a decent speed as long as other people were gone. When they started coming home, my speed dropped and sometimes the modem would drop out entirely. Apparently it works fine in houses.

46:

Andrew, my experience includes masonry walls over 2 feet thick. I'm biased. And I'd wonder if some of the expensive hardware sticks to the UK power limit. There's a big brandname wifi AP at one of the local pubs, for one of the wifi hotspot networks, and I can pick it up 900 metres away.

There's been some discussion on uk.business.agriculture, and a couple of regulars say that the MoD can call round if you mess around with directional aerials and high power, but I'm not sure that was wifi.

Marilee, the bottleneck in my system is my ISP: they're selling far more capacity than they can ever deliver.

47:

Dave: Well I know the ASUS sticks by default to the power limits, you can tweak the power if you want to be naughty (never done that myself, though). One other soloution is to daisy-chain several routers by having one connect to the ISP and a couple others strategically placed in bridge mode.

I've had bad experiences with the home networking-over-power, in that with some houses seperate circuits prevent the network from crossing them (so you can only network share that way in a limited area of the house).

The house I currently live in has wired connections in each bedroom, which is nice...

Your experiences may vary ofc :)

48:

Bruce @6:

"very few people get rich writing, and nobody gets rich writing SF"

Unless their name is Isaac Asimov

49:

Ilya@48, I don't think Asimov was rich, and I don't think most of the money he made came from SF. He wrote a lot more popular science books than he did SF.

50:

Robert Anson Heinlein?
Arthur Charles Clarke?

51:

G. Tingey @50, I don't think I'd call them rich, either.

52:

Anonymous is doing it for the lulz.

on the head tracking front, there was a demo at GDC a couple weeks ago of the same program as the wii head tracker but using the PS3 EyeToy and some eye recognition software. So the camera watched your face, recognized your eye positioning, and created the appropriate view on the monitor. Worked relatively well, which was neat.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on February 27, 2008 6:36 PM.

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