.net programming, computers and assorted technology rants


James Bonds Got Nothing On Google

Courtesy Olivia Solon, wired.co.uk


Earlier this year, Wired.co.uk wrote about Google’s invention of a smart contact lens that could monitor blood glucose levels through tear fluid. Now, the tech giant has invented another pair of lenses with an in-built camera.

The lenses were developed in the Google X laband were featured in a patent filing dating from 2012, which was recently published by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The patent filing features a contact lens that includes an embedded circuit, camera and sensor. The control circuit could be linked wirelessly or via a wire to the camera and sensor. The sensor could be a light sensor, pressure sensor, temperature sensor or electrical field sensor, which may allow for people to gain a "sixth sense" of sorts.

While the project might seem a bit "out there", the technology isn’t all that far off — smart contact lenses with displays have already been tested in labs, although they’ve been a little clunky up until now. One of the key benefits of having a camera embedded in a contact lens rather than attached to the side of the head like Google Glass is that the camera frame would follow a person’s precise gaze without obstructing their view (by being placed along the edge of the lens, away from the pupil).

In the patent filing — as described in great detail over at Patent Bolt — Google points out that the lens could take raw image from a contact lens, process it and relay what it sees to a blind wearer via a different sense — perhaps an audio warning that there is a car approaching a junction, for example. There may also be the option of go-go-gadget eyes that have a zoom capability.

If these contact lenses ever do come to market, it means you can leapfrog the Glasshole stage and go straight to Lenshole. Or whatever the neologism for that will be. In the meantime you can, for one day only, join the Glass Explorer programme today (15 April).


Pic of the Day: 10 Years of Social Media

Courtesy Mat Smith, Engadget

Facebook to rip search opt-out from under those who were using it

Courtesy Casey Johnston, ArsTechnica

Here’s the dialog you’ll see if you were opted out of search, when Facebook gets around to opting you back in.


If you checked that box saying you don’t want to appear in Facebook search results, get ready: soon, that choice is going away. Facebook announced in a blog post Thursday that it’s removing the ability to opt out of appearing in search results, both for friends and globally, for those who’ve had it enabled.

Facebook actually removed the search opt-out for everyone who didn’t have it enabled early this year, around the time it introduced Graph Search. Now, ten months later, Facebook is giving the boot to anyone who actually cared enough to opt out, referring to the checkbox as an “old search setting.” Facebook claims that less than one percent of users were taking advantage of the feature.

In simpler times, Facebook was smaller and easier to navigate, and everyone had a privacy setting asking “Who can look up your timeline by name?” Now that there are so many profiles that users become confused when they know they have a friend or know someone in a group, but try to find them by search and they don’t appear, says Facebook.

The shifting sands of Facebook privacy settings have become increasingly unreliable; of course Facebook is not beholden to any of its users to protect them from much of anything, and anyone who doesn’t like what Facebook is doing can leave. ReadWrite has a good run-through of the privacy settings you may want to survey and tweak. While they still exist, that is.

World of Warcraft Movie–Due Out Dec 2015

Courtesy Nathan Olivarez-Giles, theVerge


The Warcraft movie now has a release date — December 18th, 2015. The feature film based on Blizzard’s hugely popular World of Warcraft series of video games will be directed by Duncan Jones, the filmmaker behind the critically acclaimed sci-fi thrillersMoon and Source Code. Charles Leavitt, who penned the Leonardo DiCaprio political drama Blood Diamond, is writing the movie; Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures are handling financing and distribution. Warcraft‘s December release puts it at the end of a year that will be packed with tentpole flicks including Star Wars: Episode VII, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Ant-Man, Jurassic World, and the Ben Affleck-as-Batman sequel to Man of Steel.

Unlike Jones’ previous films, which had smaller budgets in the $35 million range, Warcraftis set to be a big, CGI-filled, blockbuster with a reported budget of more than $100 million. So far, Legendary has largely succeeded at bringing fantasy and spectacle to the big screen with hits such as 300, Inception, Man of Steel, and the Dark Knight Trilogy. Shooting is set to start early next year, but there’s no official word on who’ll inhabit the world of Azeroth on the big screen just yet.

The Future of TV

Courtesy Casey Johnston, ArsTechnica

Right now, traditional TV and media and the Internet exist in uneasy tension. It’s far from an all-out war, but by no means have the two come to an agreement. The Internet is affecting everything from the services we use to watch conventional TV shows to the new hardware we do it on: laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Both parties in the fight have plenty of money, but one is losing cultural clout while the other only gains. Five to 10 years down the road, how will this juxtaposition of old and new shake out? Can the Internet liberate content to a free-for-all, endless catalog of all the best TV shows, movies, and Web series? Or will the content creators, rightsholders, and providers decide they’ve waited long enough for not enough kickbacks from the supposed digital revolution before they pull back into their proprietary caves and resign customers to a line of channels, preprogramming, and pokey set-top boxes?

In this final installment of our series looking at the history of TV, we examine where all aspects of the video entertainment business may head, where we’d like to see them go, and where we hope they never dare step foot.

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If Only I Had Another 61 cents a month I could…

Courtesy Lee Hutchinson, ArsTechnica

The Verge and other sites are reporting that AT&T wireless customers will be seeing an additional charge on their bills this month in the form of an "administrative fee" of $0.61.

Enlarge / Oh, hello there, new fee.


The fee affects post-paid individual customers (i.e., people who receive a monthly wireless bill) and also corporate IRU customers (IRU stands for "Individual Responsibility User" and refers to a corporate account paid by the phone’s user instead of the user’s employer). According to some back-of-the-napkin math by The Verge, this new little fee could net AT&T several hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

AT&T has said that the fee will go to "certain expenses," including "interconnection and cell site rents and maintenance." The addition of an "administrative fee" sounds disturbingly shady (rather like the infamous "shipping and handling" fees on "AS SEEN ON TV!"-style products), but AT&T isn’t the only one playing the shady fee game: 9to5Mac notes that Verizon Wireless charges a $0.91 admin fee, and Sprint’s admin fee is a whopping $1.99.

The fee is already appearing on wireless bills, and there isn’t really a recourse for consumers who don’t want to beef up AT&T’s administrative coffers—or is there? TheTechBlock has a short pieceexplaining that the AT&T wireless customer agreement contains language that AT&T might have overlooked. Specifically, the agreement notes that AT&T will disclose billing changes to customers at least one cycle in advance, and if it fails to do so, the customer can cancel their contract without paying an early termination fee.

Whether or not this administrative fee qualifies as a "change" under the terms of the agreement is questionable, but it’s possible that the fee might give customers the option to get out of their contracts with AT&T if they wish. Don’t count on trying that avenue without a fight, though; "customer agreements" are by their nature almost never structured to give any advantages to the customer.

Social Media’s Storage Giveaway: Flickr offers 1 TB

Courtesy Leslie Horn, Gizmodo

Sure, Yahoo just about killed Flickr, but today it’s trying to restore its former glory. Just after the company this morning announced its $1.1 billion dollar acquisition of Tumblr, it showed off a completely redesigned version of Flickr with giant photos and more storage than you probably even need.

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