Google Targets Blackberry and the iPhone in its Quest for World Domination

September 18, 2008

Conference attendees were given a sneak peek at the look off the Google Android )pictured above)

A decade ago, the fears expressed in the media were that Microsoft was headed towards world domination thanks to their operation system and software. Only a decade later, Google is now the driver’s seat in the technological world thanks to their dominance online with web applications. Their internet browser known as Chrome has launched successfully and will in the future do battle with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Now Google is branching out and heading into the mobile phone world with the coming release of Google Android. Claudine Beaumont explains: Read the rest of this entry »


How the Internet looked back in the olden days

September 17, 2008

This is an actual image from the McDonald’s corporate website back in 1996

I find it quite odd talking to teenagers today since the are truly the internet generation. So much is it a part of our daily routine that it’s difficult to think back to BI – Before Internet.

I first “surfed” the internet back in 1994 during my university days. I was already familiar with computers and programs such as Word Perfect, but the internet was something new. The terminals at my school library were hooked up to the internet, but it was still text-based meaning no images, and a lot of tabbing and hitting “enter” since the mouse wasn’t all that useful. Most time in those days was spent on Usenet.

The following year our computers got an upgrade and the world wide web came alive. Images flashed on our screens, and always very slowly…..waiting for objects to load was par for the course. The search engine of choice was AltaVista (yes, this was pre-Google) and your website options were quite limited.

Here is a presentation of what the internet looked like in 1996. You’ll notice how primitive sites were and how aesthetically unappealing they could be. It’s a great collection courtesy of the Wayback Machine.

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Africa: Land of Hope and Exploitation

September 9, 2008

The residents of the Magenge Mapya Charcoal Camp in Tanzania face an uncertain future — the trees they rely on to make charcoal are being cut down to plant oil-producing plants for biofuels

Roughly a century ago, the Ottoman Empire was considered “the sick man of Europe” because of its poor economy, backwardness, and misrule. Today, the continent of Africa and in particular the sub-Saharan part could rightfully be considered the sick man of the world. Disastrous economics, shoddy rule, violent wars, and the plague of HIV have left a once promising continent the failure of the world.

Decade after decade of foreign aid have not been able to lift Africa out of its mire. Even the so-called “benevolence” of wealthier states has left a situation best described in dependency theory as: “the way in which resources flow from a “periphery” of poor and underdeveloped states to a “core” of wealthy states, enriching the latter at the expense of the former”. This exploitation continues today as Africa is now being utilized for the sake of biofuel production at the expense of locals. Der Spiegel reports about this new exploitation in Green Gold Rush: Africa becoming a biofuel battleground. An excerpt: Read the rest of this entry »

Trends in the Next Decade of Technology

September 6, 2008

Future technology
Future technology in a scene from “Minority Report”

Technological process is quickening from century to century, decade to decade, and year to year. In the previous millenium, some argued that technological advances would create a utopia for humanity. Some of the excesses of the past century showed this argument to be patently false. Technology is for the most part neutral and depends on how and why it is used and by whom it is used.

The speed with which our world is undergoing technological transformation is plain to see. The popular futurist Raymond Kurzweil tells us that we are approaching technological singularity: a point of unprecedented technological progress, caused in part by the ability of machines to improve themselves using artificial intelligence. That sounds frightening, as it should. However Kurzweil’s singularity is still some time away, should it actually ever happen.

In the meantime has asked several leading technological experts to predict the trends in technology over the next decade. Words like haptics and phrases like semantic web will be more commonplace. Here’s an excerpt from this excellent article:

Leo Kärkkäinen – Chief visionary, Nokia Research Center, Espoo, Finland


Ordinary products are going to have memories that store their entire history from cradle to grave, and that consumers can easily access.

Radio-frequency identification tags are a good option because they are already widely used to track inventory and to control theft. They are cheap and can be powered by an outside power source, such as the radio signal from the device being used to read them. But there may be another enabling technology that wins out.

Near-field communication systems already allow a phone to be used like a smart card for a travel pass or as an electronic wallet to pay for goods. If that technology can talk to the things you buy, as well as the systems through which you pay for them, it will enable consumers to choose not to buy goods that are unhealthy, allergenic, have used environmentally unfriendly methods or employed child labour.

As with many technologies, it could potentially be used for bad purposes; we have to ensure that privacy functions are built in to the system to put the consumer in control of whether they want to be tracked.

click this link to read the article in its entirety

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Google Earth Finds an Almost 40 Year Old Tribute to Lenin

September 5, 2008

Lenin is 100!

Only a decade ago, google was simply an internet search engine. Now thanks to its web applications such as the recently released Google Chrome, the company is well on its way to owning every aspect of your online life. Not that I mind, especially considering the fun one has with webapps like Google Earth which continually throw up surprises.

The UK Telegraph has posted a story about how Google Earth has uncovered a tribute to Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin made from Siberian trees that were strategically cut to leave the message “Lenin is 100”.

The message, which translates as “Lenin is 100”, was cut into a forest in a remote region of Siberia. Each letter is around 80 metres high, and the entire message stretches for 600 metres.

It was created by Russian woodcutters in 1970 to mark the centenary of the Communist leader’s birth, according to EnglishRussia, the blog which spotted the image.

Despite the passing of 38 years it has kept its coherent shape, and is now clearly visible on Google Maps and Earth, the internet giant’s satellite mapping services.

The blog says that the reasons for the large scale topiary are unclear, but that it could have been intended as a tongue-in-cheek message of national pride to be picked up by American spy satellites.

The tribute was cut into a forest close to the town of Zverinogolovskoye in the south west of Siberia, near the border with Kazakhstan.

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Google enters the Web Browser Market with Chrome

September 2, 2008

Google released a comic explaining the workings of their new web browser “Chrome”

Microsoft has another reason to be worried.

Late last night, Google announced that they’ll be releasing their own web browser entitled “Chrome” later today in 100 countries. Alongside the announcement is a comic that explains the technology behind the release and does it in a fashion that a layman can understand. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is the web browser king and Google is looking to bite into its market share with this release.

From what I’ve seen, the main benefits touted in this new browser are its better service of web applications, better internet security, and its open source nature plus the fact that it is lightweight compared to its competitors.

Take a look at the comic for a thorough explanation of what is behind Chrome and what it intends to do.

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Why the Internet Makes Identity Theft So Easy

August 20, 2008

identity theft
Identity theft is much easier than you might imagine

We humans being the most social of animals leads us to constantly talk about ourselves (some more than others, some much, much more) no matter how mundane or trivial the actual subject can be. New technology such as the internet has only facilitated this urge to speak about ourselves even more in the form of social networking sites.

In a previous post here at vodka/soda we discussed some of the dangers of social networking sites on the internet. One of the most costly dangers is identity theft, a theft made much easier by the amount of personal information available about ourselves and made available by ourselves (and websites) on the web.

Herbert H. Thompson, a professor of computer science and a software developer, shows us how easy it is to steal a person’s identity just by mining data on the internet in: How I Stole Someone’s Identity. Here’s a quote from the article:

I asked some of my acquaintances, people I know only casually, if with their permission and under their supervision I could break into their online banking accounts. After a few uncomfortable pauses, some agreed. The goal was simple: get into their online banking account by using information about them, their hobbies, their families and their lives freely available online. To be clear, this isn’t hacking or exploiting vulnerabilities, instead it’s mining the Internet for nuggets of personal data.

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