The restaurant that Googles its diners

Thursday, 17 April, 2014

Certain fine dining establishments are taking customer service, and attention to detail, to a new level. Having taken a booking, staff then turn to search engines to see what they can learn about their customers, all in the name of personalising, or enhancing, the dining experience:

If, for example, Roller discovers it’s a couple’s anniversary, he’ll then try to figure out which anniversary. If it’s a birthday, he’ll welcome a guest, as they walk in the door, with a “Happy Birthday.” (Or, if it seems to Roller that a guest prefers to keep a low profile, “I’ll let them introduce themselves to me,” he says.) Even small details are useful: “If I find out a guest is from Montana, and I know we have a server from there, we’ll put them together.” Same goes for guests who own jazz clubs, who can be paired with a sommelier that happens to be into jazz. In other words, before customers even step through the door, the restaurant’s staff has a pretty good idea of the things it can do to specifically blow their minds.

Read more posts on related topics

, , , ,

Album covers that can be found on Google Street View

Wednesday, 16 April, 2014

Pink Floyd's Animals on Street View

Iconic album covers, by the likes of Oasis, PJ Harvey, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd (above), that feature an actual outdoors location, or streetscape, are superimposed over their more recent Google Street View images.

Read more posts on related topics

, , ,

How many people might it take to to colonise another star system?

Tuesday, 15 April, 2014

Because I enjoy this type of conjecture and know you do as well. You’re sending humans on a multi-generational, two thousand year long, voyage to colonise a habitable planet in a distant star system. How many people do you place on the vessel?

It had been suggested, a little over ten years ago, that a crew of one hundred and fifty might be sufficient, but a more recent analysis of the question puts the figure at closer to forty thousand.

That would make for a pretty big ship, unless you sent a fleet (fewer eggs in the same basket as it were), but whatever way it is looked at, setting up a human colony outside the solar system would be, or is going to be, a huge undertaking.

The nearest star systems – such as our nearest neighbor, Proxima Centauri, which is 4.2 light-years from home – are so far that reaching them would require a generational starship. Entire generations of people would be born, live, and die before the ship reached its destination. This brings up the question of how many people you need to send on a hypothetical interstellar mission to sustain sufficient genetic diversity.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

Modern day conundrums, what to do if you find a lost drone?

Monday, 14 April, 2014

The tranquility of a quiet afternoon at home is shattered by a crashing sound coming from the garden. Going outside to investigate, you discover a drone, essentially an airbourne surveillance device, lies disabled on your back lawn.

So what the hell do you do next? Fear not, you wouldn’t be the only person setting foot in what is so far relatively uncharted territory:

Last week, a San Franciscan named Joseph encountered a crashed quadcopter near Golden Gate Park. It was “squirmin’” and “buzzin’” like a wounded animal, he says. Unafraid of rabies or computer viruses, Joseph took the drone home and knocked it out by cutting its power. He then posted a Craigslist ad, “I found your stupid drone,” asking the “dr-owner” to contact him to get it back. Else, he would send it to the pound called “Ebay.”

Read more posts on related topics

, , ,

Is it possible to design better flight recorders or black boxes?

Tuesday, 8 April, 2014

It may take investigators years to fully understand the tragic fate that befell Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, wreckage of which is believed to have been found in the Southern Indian Ocean. Locating the aircraft’s flight recorder, or black box, will be crucial in this regard, but to date there is no indication as to its whereabouts.

Can the design, and the way flight recorders work, be changed though, to make their recovery easier in the future? Apparently yes, but unfortunately the task isn’t quite that straightforward:

It’s tempting, in the age of streaming data, to call this an archaic, obsolete system – after all, there are better ways of recording and accessing flight data – but they face staggering problems in practice. After an Air France crash in 2009, for example, it took investigators two years to recover the black box. French safety officials drew up recommendations afterward to improve the flight recorders, and the FAA followed suit. Those recommendations included features such as adding a mechanism to catapult a black box into the air when it hit water, and tripling the battery life of the underwater locator beacons to 90 days. Air France incorporated such technologies into its airplanes, but U.S. airlines are lagging behind on the new regulations. Financial hurdles are the most notorious reason for an increasingly parsimonious airline industry. “As with everything, you know the money is always going to be an issue,” Brickhouse says.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

When hearts beat online

Friday, 4 April, 2014

New York City based data scientist Jen Lowe broadcasts the rhythm of her heartbeat, albeit on a twenty-four hour delay, to a waiting world.

No fear of over-sharing here…

Via CreativeJS.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

Writing history with the Wayback Machine

Monday, 31 March, 2014

An intriguing way to write about history… by sourcing articles written about historical events from data stored in the Internet Archive, also known as the Wayback Machine.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

Twitter: we didn’t know what it was, or what it could become

Thursday, 27 March, 2014

Well I’ll be… Twitter is eight years old. And to think that some of us, back then, didn’t think it’d still be around today. Anyway, relive those early days by looking up your first tweet.

Mine, while by no means original, was at least to the point.

Read more posts on related topics

, , ,

I hacked my brain and wrote the next theory of relativity

Monday, 24 March, 2014

Brain hacking. Does it really enhance our abilities? Some people sure seem to think so:

Lee was an early member of a DIY community that’s sprung up around a technology called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). This noninvasive way to jolt brain cells is being studied in labs and clinics for its potential to reveal how our brains function – and perhaps to augment abilities or treat disorders. Unlike most other brain-tweaking technologies, tDCS doesn’t require expensive equipment; all it takes is a 9-volt battery, some simple circuits, and a couple of electrodes. Consequently, it didn’t take long for so-called biohackers to band together and come up with schematics for devices.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

John McAfee talks good, old fashion, security for your computer

Friday, 21 March, 2014

You may be running McAfee anti-virus software on your computer, so you may find this brief interview with the company founder, John McAfee, informative, even though he hasn’t been associated with the organisation since 1994.

And if not informative, then perhaps entertaining…

My favorite real-time software is the XM153 remote control software that comes standard with the XM153 50 caliber machine gun. It is solid, never crashes, easy to use and easy to install.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,