April 30, 2009

Tech makes waves

While most of the world's been turned upside down with one thing after another, be it bird flu or swine flu, technology continues to make it's own waves, and not everyone' s happy about it. A Radio Shack employee allegedly started pummeling a customer. A Hollywood exec warns that the old Hollywood is dead.

Meanwhile, Twitter's rise continues. Sarah Palin's begun her Twitter journey, LSU football coach says he''ll Twitter when he should be coaching, and some Giants players get the smackdown for Twittering when they should have been playing. Ah, there's a fine line between appropriate and inappropriate Twittering, just like the fine line between appropriate use of Facebook photos and those that aren't. Just ask this guy, who's now single again. You've been warned. It's anarchy out there!

April 18, 2009

Help the last Titanic survivor

If you thought your life was pretty depressing, consider the case of the last remaining Titanic survivor, selling her memorabilia to pay bills.

[a moment of silence]

Kinda gets to you, doesn't it? Hopefully someone will help this woman out. Any Revision Bar readers in England, please lend a hand! The auction takes place today.

April 17, 2009

Susan Boyle's got talent

Fridays should be fun days, even though work gets in the way and mucks things up. Since we're well past 5 pm now, let's kick off the weekend right. First of all, we have for your amusement, and perhaps nutrition, the bacon bracelet. It's not only a fashion accessory, it's also breakfast. Just slap it on your wrist, head out the door, and gnaw on it whenever you're hungry. Be careful not to spook the lightsabre-wielding police officer, who's suddenly come to the realization that his purpose in life is that of the Jedi, and thus changed his religion accordingly. If this doesn't scare you, and the bacon bracelet (gee, it even sounds cool!) needs to be cooked, try this homemade stove, made out of nothing but two cardboard boxes and some solar power. I'll bet the cop's lightsabre could really power that thing. Or chop it into bits; whichever comes first.

If your kid's got a cell phone, be careful of those text message fees. One dad was so surprised at his daughter's bill he took a hammer to the phone and smashed it. But he's still on the hook for $4,756.25, unless the folks at Verizon take pity on him.

Lastly, this isn't totally silly, in fact it's downright cool. Check out the newest web sensation, Susan Boyle, that spunky contestant from Britain's Got Talent, who totally shut Simon Cowell up and won over a crowd of dubious onlookers at the audition. Nice job Susan, and apparently she's been doing it for years now. Who knew?

April 06, 2009

All things Twittered

As Twitter continues it's drive to dominance it's stress points begin to show and odd things begin to pop up, mainly as a result of it's near-stratospheric popularity.

There has recently been a suicide attempt, which popped up on Demi Moore's Twitter page, of all places. While Moore and husband Ashton Kutcher were justifiably concerned, some other fast-acting Twitterers saved the day and called 911. The high-visibility of Moore's page no doubt gave the issue higher visibility than it otherwise would have. One can't help but wonder if posting something like this to Twitter is the modern-day equivalent of jumping from the highest central point in the town, or doing some other nasty thing in the town square, just so you'll be noticed. Has Twitter become one of the highest-profile places on the internet, and thus the best place to be seen?

Speaking of unusual uses of Twitter, there's a volcano that posts it's own tweets. Yep, Mount Redoubt in Alaska is set up so any unusual activities sets off an automatic tweet. Interested parties can subscribe to the posts (just like any other Twitter account) and be instantly notified that something very bad may be happening to the volcano. A pretty neat idea, actually. How much longer until we get our cars to tweet ("I'm low on air pressure", "I need more horsepower")?

Stephen Colbert's gotten into the fun, Twittering away while on his show (he called it "Twatting" when speaking to the Today show's Meredith Vieira), at the same time as interviewing Twitter's founder, Biz Stone. During the interview, Colbert compared Twitter to the old internet crash and burn sensation, Pets.com. Ouch. Let's hope Twitter does better than that. There was a rumored sale of Twitter to Google, but although there were some talks, Twitter's at the moment saying no dice.

Finally, amidst all the Twitter fun and success stories, there's also signs of it's own shortcomings. The site has always been prone to failures, since the infrastructure wasn't truly built to withstand the amount of users it has today; it's growth has just been too fast for the service to keep up. And with site outages comes grumbling, and some say there's a bit of a Twitter backlash going on. Some blame Shaquile O'Neal, one of the highest-profile Twitters around. Others just make mocking videos, which are sarcastic and tongue in cheek, but have more than a shred of truth.

April 01, 2009

April Fools 2009, Google-style

Did you see it? Yes, today is April Fool's, and Google attempted to pull the wool over everyone's eyes (see CNET's story on it here). The problem is they overreached. Really, an email system that automatically reads and responds for you? Artificial intelligence built into the world's search engine? A bit far-reaching, especially since we can't even control all the hacking that's prevalent in our current computing environment.
What's even more interesting is that Google also had some info today about what Gmail will bring in terms of advancements in the next five years. One has to wonder if that was just another April Fools.

Tracking airline flights with ease

Tracking flights used to be a chore, if it could be done at all. There were routes to learn, possibly hooking into the shortwave radio to get updates and hear chatter from the tower. Mostly it was a matter of faith. Saying goodbye to someone at the gate, then waiting to hear by phone that they were at their destination. The 'net has changed all that. Today it's possible to find all kinds of flight information -- heck, you can micro-manage the entire flight from your easy chair if you want. For starters, there's everyone's favorite search engine, Google. Simply put in the airline and flight number and get back all kinds of results, most helpful is the one at top which shows the status of the flight. This is also a great tool for people rushing to the airport, as they can see if their flight's been delayed right from their cell phone. Normally this results page also prominently links to flightstats, one of the leading flight information sites where you can get more details.
Now, if you want to get all geeked-out about it, check out this list of the best flight tracking sites out there. Sure, flightstat is included, but wait--there's more. There's sites out there that let you watch a representative picture of the plane as it flys its route, some even show you the ups and downs of altitude, and even bring Google Earth into play. And oh yes, one in particular lets you listen to the live air traffic control (ATC) audio feed. Very cool indeed.