RIAA Enemy No. 1

Most folks who swap music files are a little scared of the consequences, but this guy in a posting on TechTV is completely fearless because he’s set up what amounts to a mobile pirate swappers’ delight: an 800GB RAID server in his car that connects via WiFi to open networks around his home town of San Francisco. Not only is this guy chintzing the record labels (something we have only a little pity for here at ST) but he’s definitely taking advantage of open WiFi networks, and that’s something I don’t cotton to. The potential consequences of using someone else’s open network for illegal activity are huge, and could put a serious damper on the free WiFi movement.

Funky Caller ID

Just saw this in the local Staples, and had to have it: the Olympia Infoglobe is a fairly straightfoward caller ID box and message indicator that also displays date and time, as well as a variety of pre-programmed messages on holidays, or user programmed messages, in a rotating projected blue light. While it looks pretty cool, and it’s functional, it could do a lot more. Some wireless weather, stock, or homeland security information would be handy in knowing whether to pack an umbrella, krugerands or a Glock when leaving the apartment in the morning. Perhaps this sort of thing will evolve once Microsoft gets its SPOT technology rolling. Cost is about $45 available from a variety of retailers.

New Feature: Audio Blog

Blogging is becoming more like Llogging — a service from Audlink.com allows users to literally call-in their blog entries: just dial a number, leave a message and it’s instantly uploaded to your site as an mp3. People can listen to it right from your website.

Now, one of the coolest things to do with this, if you ask me (and I know you would if this were an interactive site) is for recording phone calls to and from other people. Just create a conference call with the AudioBlog as the third party, and your conversation with 1) your girlfriend 2) your mother 3) your boss 4) your parole officer will be instantly recorded for all to hear! Cool, eh? Of course, this actually has practical applications for those who want to use it for more journalistic endeavors, such as recording responses from any number of sources like phone conversations with politicians or government officials. And of course Jerky Boys-style pranks are always a good use of new technology.

Hosting for the audio files can be done on your own server or through services provided by others like the still-in-beta AudioBlog.

Kazaa Goes Legit With Bollywood Feature

Kazaa has struck a deal to distribute Hindi-language film Supari, which will be made available to Kazaa users for just $3. Soundtrack tunes cost about $1. The deal marks the first feature film distribution for Kazaa, and perhaps a turning point in the perception of P2P networks as inherently illegal. To bolster the positive image of P2P, Kazaa is taking out print ads touting the benefits of distributed file-sharing and the ways it can help industry.

R2D2: “You like me! You Really like me!”

While we’re on the topic of robots (a seemingly never-ending topic now that Gar has published his book) we might as well mention that the first annual Carnegie Mellon Robot Hall of Fame inductees were announced yesterday. The group of four robots included some fictional and some real. Of the fictional, R2D2 was inducted for hyr portrayal of a humble servant with a bit of an independant streak, HAL 9000 was recognized for setting the benchmark for robot intelligence (and for being the first robot capable of pre-meditated murder).

“Real” robot incductees included the Mars Pathfinder Sojourner Rover for hyr remarkable interplanetary robotic acheivement (and not mixing up the kilos and the pounds) and the little known Unimate, the first industrial robotic arm, was recognized for years of hard labor in the service of mankind.

Make sure to visit the Hall of Fame website and vote for Gareth for induction next year. While not as cute as R2D2, not as smart as HAL, not as mobile as Sojourner and not as strong as Unimate, we here at ST think he’s the best mix of all four.

Segway Makes Great Mobile Robot Platform

“Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have crossed a robotic arm with the bottom half of a Segway to make a robot named Cardea that can traverse hallways and push open doors.

Cardea, named after the Roman goddess of thresholds and door pivots, is the one-armed first prototype of a robot designed to have three arms and the ability to safely interact with humans at eye level.” – Technology Review

Promising Robotic Trend-Tracker

There are a lot of great robot news and information websites out there, but most are targeted at hobbyists. A new site, called Robotic Trends, is geared (no pun intended) more towards the business world and the developmental trends shaping the future of the robotics industry.

The site is divided into a number of sub-sections (Personal Robotics, Service Robotics, Security and Defense, etc.). There are articles, opinion pieces, vendor profiles, conference announcements, a news feed, and more. One thing they do which I really like is to summarize many of the articles with their opinion about what is significant about the idea or trend being discussed.

Definitely worth putting on your radar if you’re interested in robots.