New device detects drugs in drinks

Technology is great when it starts to empower people, rather than just make companies money.  Here is an Indiegogo campaign for a small battery operated device that, when dipped into a beverage, can detect whether your drink has been drugged.  It’s called the (personal drink ID).

It is small (it looks like a USB device), is reusable, can identify in some cases the actual drug and you can use it on it’s own (it has a green and red light that light up after it has “read” your drink) or with a smart phone.

For more information and to back this campaign (until August 29th, 2014) go to

Sharks are now Tweeting

You may have read recently that there is a big project underway in Austrailia to tag sharks to learn more about them as well as protect people as well when they stray too close to beaches.

The Twitter feed of Surf Life Saving Western Australia – a non-profit group dedicated to beachgoer safety – is now being accessed regularly by GPS-tagged sharks that tweet their breed, size and location, alerting beachgoers to their presence.

The tweets are sent when one of more than 320 tagged sharks is identified by a monitoring system that sends an alert to Surf Life Saving Western Australia computers when the shark swims within about a kilometer of a beach.  What a great idea, and a wonderful use of technology.

There is also a really fascinating site to check out that shows where all the sharks from various places are now, and what their route has been since they have been tagged.  Check out

YouSendIt changes their name

You send it, the program that allows you to send larger files than most of your internet providers will, has changed their name to Hightail.  They felt that their name was holding them back.  This new name gives them a sense of speed, of motion.  It makes me think of old westerns when you had to “hightail outta here”.  But it is a good name.

They launched a new user interface just a month or so ago, in which you were able to drag files over instead of browse for them, which actually was a big improvement and made the process a bit faster.  I’m sure they will be launching other services as well, and perhaps their name wouldn’t entirely make sense if that is the case.

I’ve used this service for years and it has been great when sending files to people before clouds were anything other than fluffy things in the sky.  And I still use it because not everyone knows how to use dropbox or wants to set up an account so that I can send them something.

Best way to keep tabs on your tabby!

Father-of-two Dave Evans developed an ultra-light GPS which fixes to your pet’s collar and records where it has been.

When the animal returns home the information is downloaded via a USB cable direct to a website which reveals its secret life on Google Earth satellite images.

Mr Evans, 41, said the weatherproof tracker, weighing just 15g, will cost £50 and can be used for cats and dogs.

He said:

Yollo was getting fat even though I was feeding him less and I needed to know what was going on.  Now I know he enjoys chasing chickens at 6am every morning and can see his favourite hangouts.

‘The tracker will provide answers for other cat users if Tiddles is playing away or simply show where they go when they’re out on the tiles.’

Sounds like fun.  Now I wonder if you can use it on husbands….. to sign up for news when it is available.

Today is gTDL reveal day

Today is the day that has been anticipated as top level domain applications are revealed. I mentioned this a few months back, for the small sum of approximately $85k, you can apply to create you own generic top level domain (similar to .com and .net). ICANN received more than 1900 applications by the May 30th deadline.

Google has applied for .google (makes sense) and .docs, lol and .youtube while the American Bankers Association has applied for .bank and .insurance. the Directi Group has applied for 31 domain strings including .hotel, .movie and .shop.

What does this allow them to do? Have their very own domain registry and in some cases, sell domains with those extension much the same as you can buy a .com or .ca now. Only they will be making the yearly fees.

Up to now there are 22 existing suffixes, including the country designations, others like .org (for charities) and the new .xxx. Some say that it will make the internet more innovative and competitive, but others say it will be very confusing. At least now you know when you see a .com that it is a website, but it will be very confusing if you have something like stocks.shares. Is that a typo or a web address?

Also, just because a name is a well known brand in one country, doesn’t mean that they will necessarily be allowed to buy that suffix. There may be an equally or more well known brand with the same name in another country. It will be interesting to see what the internet looks like in the next few years and the outcome of this new rule.

Lego Man!

Two weeks ago, Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad launched a homemade balloon carrying a Lego passenger and four cameras. It fell back down to Earth 97 minutes later (in Peterborough) with astonishing footage from an estimated 24 kilometres above sea level, three times the typical cruising altitude of a commercial aircraft.

This is what a bit of ingenuity, knowledge from the web, and two young men who will likely go far, can do when they try.

Watch this fascinating video. Their photos are wonderful and you can check out the video below.



Patent Trolls don’t live under bridges!

Patent Trolls don't live under bridgesIn the last year I’m sure you’ve read about the end of companies like Nortel and the scramble to buy up the patents. Apple, Microsoft and Google were among the companies that bought the patents as part of a consortium. Now I’m sure that you are thinking that they wanted them in order to create new and better products or technology with these items? Unfortunately, it was more of a protection measure.

In a term coined by Peter Detkin patent trolls are companies that buy up patents with the expressed intent of using them to sue other companies.  The term applies to companies that do the following:


  • Purchases a patent, often from a bankrupt firm, and then sues another company by claiming that one of its products infringes on the purchased patent
  • Enforces patents against alleged infringers without itself intending to make the product or supply the service that the patent covers
  • Enforces patents but has no manufacturing or research base, often they are just a P. O. Box
  • Focuses its efforts solely on enforcing patent rights, meaning that is their only business
  • Asserts patent infringement claims against non-copiers or against a large industry that is composed of non-copiers, meaning, they just sue someone because it is so expensive to even go to court, so often companies pay a settlement to make it go away, when in fact both parties know that they haven’t infringed any copyright.

Laws are being looked at and implemented, but they will need to be make so that they help small start ups and not the Patent Trolls and lawyers that seem to make much of the money at the moment.


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