EBay Localization

May 16, 2004 | Comments Off

Twice this weekend I found myself wishing ebay had a way to filter out sellers who were physically located in my region. In the first case, because the item I was shopping for is heavy/bulky so shipping costs would negate any savings on the product. In the second case, I needed something small that is significantly less expensive second-hand than new but I needed it immediately, so again, picking up was preferrable to expedited shipping. Instead I had to troll through Craig’s List to look for the item locally (unsuccessfully).

On that note, Craig’s list can be the source of some serious entertainment as it turns out. Here are two somewhat-humorous classifieds:

It probably helps if you understand what the various sections are used for. The ‘missed connections’ section seems interesting, but pointless.

(Yes, I realize Craig’s List has been around for ages and this is probably news to only me.)

RFID and Laundry

May 15, 2004 | Comments Off

RFID seems like a useful technology that can be applied in very evil ways. One non-evil application I had thought about was laundry. If each piece of clothing came encoded with laundering instructions, commercial washing systems could be developed where you could just drop a gigantic mountain of laudry in, and it could automatically detect, sort, and handle each piece correctly. Even better if a customer could attach his own rfid tag that would identify the clothing as their own, further reducing the amount of work.

Consumer grade machines could use the tags to a much lesser degree, by identifying clothes that don’t belong in the load. For example, it could detect that 90% of the clothes in this load are light colors but one of them says don’t use bleach, and another says it is a dark item, and refuse to do laundry until the situation is corrected or overridden.

Bluetooth Cars

May 12, 2004 | Comments Off

Tonight I saw a commercial for a car from Acura (I think) that comes bluetooth “enabled”. Which got me thinking about the following. All cars should come wired for handsfree operation, including integrated mic (above the driver’s seat) and integrated with the audio system. It doesn’t have to be bluetooth, since most phones aren’t, but extra points for supporting both. The interface could be as simple as a minijack (the same size as phone use) with an adapter cable that plugs between the phone and the jack.

At any rate, this also led me to start wondering about what percentage of drivers have cell phones with them. Then again, car manufacturers having pretty long development pipelines, so maybe someone has already thought of this.

DVD Burning

May 12, 2004 | Comments Off

Vlad gave me a DVD burger for XMAS and I had effectively given up on burning a DVD based on the gauntlet of tools that I have to go through. For example: 1) extract wav audio with VirtualDub 2) Encode video with TMPGenc 3) Convert wav to AAC3 4) Combine the audio and video 5) Convert the video to VOB files 6) Create the VIDEO_TS directory 7) Create the ISO or Burn

That’s a lot of work, and various steps take multiple hours. After doing this about 4 or 5 times without success (each iteration taking a day because of the serial nature of the project) I gave up. My brother on the otherhand, figures it out on the first try. FANTASTIC.

I suppose now he gets to return the favor for the years of tech support I gave him. :)

Pizza on the Turnpike

May 9, 2004 | Comments Off

I frequently drive between DC and Pittsburgh and it occurred to me once (some time back) that one of an enterprising pizza joint should calculate the amount of time it takes to arrive at the rest (from one or both directions). Then put billboards up saying “Call this phone number and order your pizza. When you get to the rest stop, it will be ready!”. Extra points for having a drive through window.

I think this is brilliant, personally.

One Time Passwords (OTP)

May 9, 2004 | Comments Off

Roadwarriors, behold! If you have ever found yourself at a public terminal and wary of typing your password/passphrase for fear of keyloggers, I have found VeJOTP to be a great solution. It’s J2ME so it runs on many cell phones. Used in combination with OPIE (Linux (Unix?) One Time Password system) I can access my computers from the road without having to carry OTPs written on slips of papers. And if there is a keylogger, the sniffed password was only good once. A coworker of mine was quick to note this is NOT similar to a one time pad.