>Terence McKenna: A Tribute

•February 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

>Cell Phone Calls Without Cell Towers?

•February 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment


There is a new technology about to be introduced that will allow you to make calls even if the cell towers in your area are down or have been “turned off.”  Read about Project Serval.

Giulio Prisco (self portrait?)

Let us begin by saying that the idea for this article came from a friend Giulio Prisco, who has been talking about this idea on Facebook, influencing us to investigate it.  

With the increasing importance of electronic communication in the world, this communication is becoming indispensable.  We cannot live without them and have any hopes of continuing the modern technological lifestyle.

Imagine the recent disaster that happened in Haiti, or New Orleans, or the floods that have hit the Brisbane area of Australia.  These events require instant communication and information to safeguard the lives of millions.  Nowadays, this communication is accomplished through cell phone technology.  Yet these very events destroy the cell phone towers necessary for this kind of communication to take place. What can be done?

Imagine a despotic government that wishes to control what, how and even when their people communicate.  Countries like Egypt, China, North Korea, and Vietnam come to mind.  It is possible in these countries to shut down the Internet.  But no country has the power to shut down the Internet in the entire world.  No country has the power to shut down the Internet in a neighboring country.  Here is an interview with Professor Gardner-Stephens provided by timelady on the scenario in Egypt where the Internet was shut down.  If you cannot access this embedded sound file here is the link: http://soundcloud.com/salimfadhley/pd_mesh1.
Mesh Networks in Authoritarian Regimes, with Dr. Paul Gardner-Stephen, founder of the Serval Project by salimfadhley

Paul Gardner-Stephens

This technological limitation of cell phone communications could be changed in a radical way at little or no cost, according to Professor Paul Gardner-Stephens of Flinders University in Australia.  He is using a so called “mesh network” to accomplish this.  What Professor Gardner-Stephens has done with his Project Serval is write open source apps for the Android platform and then presumably the iPhone as well as any other type of smart phone that has built in Wi-Fi.  This mesh network would use VOIP technology (voice over IP) to carry voice communications.  These phones would connect to each other in a semi daisy chain method until one of the phones was able to reach a cell tower to then send the voice communication anywhere in the world.  But, it would possible in theory to avoid any cell tower if there phones with this built in software and Wi-Fi abilities were ubiquitous.  These mesh networks cost a fraction of the expense as traditional cell phone towers.  This would open up the remaining 2 billion people on Earth to this technology at a cost of only a cell phone.  Gardner-Stephens idea is

Cisco visualization click to enlarge

that as Industrial nations discard their present smart phones, these will be made available to developing countries enabling this technology in their area.

Mesh networks follow a decentralized network structure with teach connection serving as a relay in the network as well.  Each connection, whether in the form of a cell phone, a computer, etc., can not only communicate to any other member of the network, but it can also relay an incoming call or data packet to another member of the network.  These mesh networks can assemble or disassemble themselves instantly and form smaller networks between nodes that are within range.  The U.S. military is using them in remote locations where there are no cell towers.  The implications of this kind of networking have enormous implications for the future business models of companies like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint as well as other international telecommunication companies.  The coming electrical “smart grid” in the United States will be using a mesh network.  Here are a group of videos explaining mesh networks.  If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/4ayabt7.


There is a company called Village Telco which is already commercially pushing mesh networks.

Here is a video from Village Telco explaining their vision. If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://vimeo.com/7924369.  They have produced a piece of hardware called the Mesh Potato.  This product would allow each home to connect to the telephony system without a cell tower.  Of course as they say, it would have to be legal under the government’s regulatory agency.  Under the question of are Village Telcos legal it states:

This is dependent on the local regulatory environment for telecommunications. In some developing countries, access to WiFi spectrum is still restricted and a Village Telco would either need a spectrum license or exemption from such a license. In some countries, WiFi innovators have had success by flying under the radar of regulation but it is hard to imagine Village Telcos going to scale without a regulatory framework that allows interconnection with other telecommunications networks.

Also this site states that the Village Telco is primarily intended for individual users at home.  This is quite different from the cell phone vision of Project Serval.

Steve Song – The Village Telco – TEDx Newtown from Steve Song on Vimeo.

Either way, this mesh networking and especially Project Serval promises to change the landscape of cellular and Wi-Fi communications in the future.

>The Future of the Mobile Phone In Our Lives 2

•February 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment


This is a continuation of the paradigm shift towards mobile devices in our lives.

There is no question that the mobile phone will become the dominant technical platform that will be intimately involved in our everyday life.  Control it, and you will greatly affect people and their actions.

Shapeshifting Phones
There are several patents at are quite amazing as mentioned by Johnny Evans at Computerworld.  One of them is for a major haptic enhancement for devices like the iPhone and iPad.  In June 24, 2010 Apple was granted a patent entitled,  “User Interface Having Changeable Topography.”  The abstract of the patent reads:

A user interface having changeable topography is disclosed. The user interface can have a shape changeable surface that can selectively alter according to an input so as to provide changeable topography of the user interface. The surface can include individual nodes that can raise above or lower below the initial surface. Alternatively, the surface can include a shape changeable material that can change the shape of portions thereof into discrete shapes above or below the initial surface. Alternatively, the surface can include a deformable material that can deform portions thereof into discrete forms above or below the initial surface. The changeable topography can define different user interface layouts. The user interface can, for example, be associated with input and/or output devices, such as touch pads, touch screens, and the like.

The idea is to use shape memory alloys, for example Nitinol which have a memory of their shape when they were created.  Depending on the temperature the alloy can be twisted and reshaped but with the heat will return back to it’s “remembered” shape.   Thus, the keyboard would pop out with its keyboard shape from the screen upon touch from a warm finger, and, would return back to a seamless screen when not touched as it cools down.

This is not the same as what we would call “simulated haptics.”  Haptic is the Greek word for touch.  Simulated haptics is an attempt to trick the senses (sometimes very effectively) into thinking sensing touch.  This is done either through a vibration as in the RIM Storm keyboard and some Android units or in the form of 3D graphics with some sort of device which gives the sensation of texture to the fingers.  You can see this in these videos.  If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/4uw6cqq.

You can see some examples of this alloy Nitinol in these videos.  If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/5tc8c5y.


Shape memory alloys were first discovered in 1930s by Otsuka and Wayman. by the 1960s the United States Naval Ordinance Laboratory was developed with the trade name Nitinol (Nickel Titanuim Naval Ordinance Laboratories). Their present known abilities were discovered by accident by David Muzzey when he applied heat to the alloys by holding his pipe lighter under it.

Nitinol is only one type of memory shape alloy, the other common one being ferromagnetic shape memory alloy.  As can be seen by its name, it relies on magnetism to change its shape.

Since the 1990s shape memory polymers have been developed which allow different shapes to be made in contemporary materials.  It is this technology that we believe Apple might have been thinking of when they filed their patent on haptic surface topography.  The applications of this technology are varied.  They are set to revolutionize the world of the cell phone and we have not really begun to incorporate the most sensational technology – nanotechnology.  If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/4ucjs47.


The cell phone will become all the devices we need for communication, information management, purchases and lifestyle.  We have only seen the very beginnings.

>Narus, Vodaphone, Freedom, Egypt & Internet Censorship

•February 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment


Vodaphone of the UK and Narus owned by Boeing were instrumental in the shutting down of the Egyptian internet.
It is ironic that a British and American companies, which are based in the two best known democratic countries, would be instrumental in the repression of free speech.

According to a Democracy Now story, these two cyber security companies were involved in the shutdown of the Egyptian internet.  The company that used “deep packet inspection” to track dissidents in Egypt was Narus.  Vodaphone was the main company that shut down the cell phone service in Egypt.

Even in the United States, there will be mass expenditures on Deep Packet Inspection or DPI technology.  Market Research Media published a diagram of where the $7.2 billion dollars will go.

expenditures 2010-15 via Market Research

If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/5uulz5r.

How The Internet Was Shutdown in Egypt

click to enlarge via: Renesys

An MSNC article explained how the Egyptian government shutdown their Internet.  MSNBC interviewed Professor David Clark from MIT, who stated that depending on how much control a government has over that country’s ISPs, would determine the most efficient method of cutting the country off.  In Egypt’s case, the government owns Telecom Egypt to which all ISPs have to submit for licensing.  Renesys, a IT website tracked the turning on of the 5 different ISPs that serve Egypt.  Here is a moving animation of how the Internet went off done by Renesys.  If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/6kb74f9.

The way that the ISPs shut down seemed to point to the idea that there was no kill switch which would instantly shut down all the ISPs.  They went down in an order which would indicate notification by telephone to each of the ISPs to close.  The last ISP to close was the Noor Group, which remained open to supply some government agencies and the Egyptian stock exchange to communicate with the outside world.

Similar technology was used by Iran in the suppression of dissent on the Internet.  This is a video presented by Democracy Now on deep packet inspection.  If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://youtu.be/ecPrPDQdK34.

Here are some more videos covering the issue of deep packet inspection in a technical and political sense.  If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/5ssuztu.

If you wish to see the issue of deep packet inspection described in great detail in a congressional hearing, we include a C-SPAN video which does so.  If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/4uzc3ne.


We will cover this issue further in future articles

>Save the Internet! Net Neutrality.

•February 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment


This is a video that was produced by proponents of Net Neutrality. It is a clear explanation from the point of view of those who oppose different pay levels depending on the speed of your connection. If you cannot see this video here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/4c7b4v3.

>Egypt’s Facebook Face Off – Egypt

•February 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment


Here is an excellent film on what has been going on in Egypt using technology to change their country. If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://youtu.be/V_tBr7MSoxQ.  Enjoy.

>The Future Of The Mobile Phone In Our Lives 1

•February 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment


Will the Mobile Phone become our ID, Credit Card and Everything Else?  It is looking like this is the direction things are taking.

The rumors for the iPhone 5 is that it will have NFC or Near Field Communication.  This marks a new chapter in its use.

What is NFC?  It stands for Near Field Communication.  It is a short range wireless communication protocol which enables the exchange of information from about 3.9 inches (10 centimeters) distance.  Although there are other short distance wireless communication protocols, NFC targets mobile phones in particular.  If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/69nuj4d.

There will be three main uses for it:
1.  Emulation of a credit card
2.  Reader mode which will enable advertisers to know your likes and dislikes and be able to target your specific needs
3.  P2P mode (peer to peer mode) which will enable communication between enabled devices.

The applications are many.  They will be used in ticketing for public transportation, including its use as a mobile boarding pass.  The phone will be able to read RFID tags on posters or outdoor billboards which will relay information or services.  In combination with Bluetooth technology it will be able to pair with other devices.  It will be used in hotels for  en electronic key to your room.  It could even be used for your passport.

Recently, Google announced that its 3.0 OS Gingerbread will support NFC.  This will of course require a phone that will support it with a built in chip or some attached accessory.  Apple’s iPhone 5 is also rumored to be supporting NFC.  According to the rumors online there is already testing going on in regards to an application named iWallet being tested in Europe as we speak.  Apparently, the rumors also speak of a patented technology that Apple will have for this new phone which will involve fingerprint recognition.  In a patent application it states:

The present invention can include systems and methods for controlling an electronic device by detecting and using a person’s fingerprints. For example, a device can store unique compositions of a user’s fingerprints as fingerprint signatures, which can, in turn, be associated with user-selectable commands. When a user provides a composition of fingerprints to the electronic device that matches one of the fingerprint signatures, the device can initiate the associated command. A composition of fingerprints can comprise a group of one or more fingerprints. This can include, for example, a fingerprint from one finger or fingerprints from multiple fingers. A composition having multiple fingerprints can include, for example, fingerprints obtained from a user pressing one finger multiple times to a fingerprint sensor or by a user pressing different fingers to one or more fingerprint sensors.

Apart from this there are other applications according to the patent:

In another embodiment of the present invention, a user-selectable command can be associated with a user input signature that has both a fingerprint signature and a non-fingerprint signature. The electronic device can be configured to initiate the user-selectable command after it detects and matches user input to the associated fingerprint signature and non-fingerprint signature. The non-fingerprint signature can include, for example, verbal input, a conventional button input, input on a multi-touch interface (e.g., similar to that incorporated into an iPhone.TM. sold by Apple Inc. of Cupertino, Calif.), any other type of user input, or any combination thereof.

The patent discusses the advantages of this technology as compared to traditional technology:

In comparison with a conventional device that requires a user to initiate user-selectable commands by manipulating a button or dial, the present invention can reduce and, in some embodiments, eliminate the need for a user to look at a device’s user interface in order to interact with and control the device. Furthermore, the present invention can reduce the size of an electronic device by replacing a plurality of conventional user input mechanisms (e.g., buttons and/or dials) with a fewer number of fingerprint sensors.

Shapeshifting Phone
The above descriptions are JUST the beginning.  There are amazing plans ahead for the cell phone and other devices.  This will come in part 2 of this series.

The cell phone will become the most important device we carry.  It will be the central communication center, as well as our entertainment center when away from home.