Auckland’s WiFi Network

From New Zealand Herald: “Wireless operator RoamAD has built a network covering three square kilometres of the central business district [in downtown Auckland] where it is offering wireless internet access for owners of laptops and handheld computers equipped with “Wi-Fi” or wireless network cards, which typically cost $200 to $300….The venture will soon extend to a fifty square kilometre area of the city.” A sign of things to come.

Lotus Notes is dead – Steve Gillmor

The obituary: “Notes was killed by inventor Ray Ozzie, 45. Ozzie entered the Notes space on the Ides of August — Aug. 15, 2002 — armed with Version 2.1 of the Groove collaboration platform and its new peer-to-peer e-mail functionality. Notes, already weakened by years of assault by Microsoft and its Exchange/Outlook team, was finished off in recent days by Ozzie’s commandeering of another growing collaboration model: Weblogs.”

Says Ozzie: “I’ve experienced enough to have become convinced that a witch’s brew of revolutionary personal communications tools — IM, Groove and Weblogs — and their evolutionary mutations and outgrowths, collectively represent the ‘post-eMail’ world.”

Meetings with Bloggers

John Robb makes an interesting point about what happens when Bloggers meet Bloggers:

1) We don’t have to exchange business cards. They know where I am located on the Internet. I know where they are located on the Internet. My personal weblog has spam-free e-mail, and a link to instant messaging. There is a link to a bio page that provides some detail on who I am and what I have done.

2) By reading the weblog of the person I am about to meet with, I already know a lot about that person. Most importantly: I know how they think through reading their writings. There is probably no better way to supercharge a meeting than to read the weblog of the person you are about to meet with. It provides a strong basis of understanding necessary for high order interaction.

3) I can write up the results of the meeting on my weblog and share it with a wider audience. That provides feedback to the person you met with and shares the insight developed in the meeting with a wider audience.

I concur (and not just as one who has met with John recently). There is so much more depth because of the blogs – there is a context which otherwise would take up most of the meeting to explain which doesn’t need to be gone into. Blogs and the Meeting become part of the extended conversation, and not just discrete independent events.

TECH TALK: Tech’s 10X Tsunamis: Displays: The Next Dimension

You are probably reading this on a computer screen or a printout on paper. Little has changed in these two modes of display in the past decade. Yes, the monitor may have gone from CRT to LCD, and the printout may have gone from being on a dot-matrix printer to a laser print-out. But in essence, it is still a static, two-dimensional world out there.

Computer processing power has leapt ahead to far beyond what is needed on the desktop. As specialised graphics chips from companies push the envelope, it is now becoming possible to think of a more realistic 3-dimensional display. In addition, companies such as eInk are also experimenting with providing an electronic paper where the display ink gets dynamically configured based on what needs to be shown.

Lets begin with the displays. The world of video games has long provided for realistic worlds using powerful consoles. This world will soon come to the mass market desktop. A Wired article (July 2002) on Nvidia (which makes graphics chips) describes the possibilities:

Eye candy – the purple glow along the horizon at sunset, a city skyline during a thunderstorm, the wrinkles in a puppy’s face, pornography – has power. While computers today mainly convey text information and 2-D images, advances in graphics processing will change what’s on our screens. And soon, high-res screens could be everywhere.

It doesn’t take much imagination to envision new uses for 3-D imagery. Already, many rental cars come equipped with a satellite-guided, 2-D map and a robo-voice that scolds you for missing a turn. Before long, they’ll have 3-D maps, like those being produced by Nvidia partner Keyhole Technologies, with the terrain rendered in real time. You’ll know what landmarks to look for, how to route around road construction, and how far to the next In-N-Out Burger. Same for air travel. F-22 fighter pilots already use simulated 3-D environments in the cockpit. Another Nvidia partner, Quantum3D, sees the day when commercial jets will have screens that render airscape in real time to help pilots fly, and land, in zero visibility. Or how about medicine? One day, doctors will use 3-D as freely as scalpels during surgery.

The electronic paper revolution has been led by E Ink. The technology is described on its website:

Electronic ink is a proprietary material that is processed into a film for integration into electronic displays. Although revolutionary in concept, electronic ink is a straightforward fusion of chemistry, physics and electronics to create this new material. The principal components of electronic ink are millions of tiny microcapsules, about the diameter of a human hair. In one incarnation, each microcapsule contains positively charged white particles and negatively charged black particles suspended in a clear fluid. When a negative electric field is applied, the white particles move to the top of the microcapsule where they become visible to the user. This makes the surface appear white at that spot. At the same time, an opposite electric field pulls the black particles to the bottom of the microcapsules where they are hidden. By reversing this process, the black particles appear at the top of the capsule, which now makes the surface appear dark at that spot.

To form an E Ink electronic display, the ink is printed onto a sheet of plastic film that is laminated to a layer of circuitry. The circuitry forms a pattern of pixels that can then be controlled by a display driver. These microcapsules are suspended in a liquid “carrier medium” allowing them to be printed using existing screen printing processes onto virtually any surface, including glass, plastic, fabric and even paper. Ultimately electronic ink will permit most any surface to become a display, bringing information out of the confines of traditional devices and into the world around us.

Taken together, 3-D displays and electronic ink will change the way we receive and interact with information in the years to come.

Tomorrow: A Review