Wednesday, October 24, 2007

UK Postal Scam - spam goes offline

"It has been confirmed by Royal Mail. The Trading Standards Office are making
people aware of the following scam:

A card is posted through your door from a company called PDS (Parcel
Delivery Service) suggesting that they were unable to deliver a parcel and
that you need to contact them on 0906 6611911 (a premium rate number).

DO NOT call this number, as this is a mail scam originating from Belize.

If you call the number and you start to hear a recorded message you will
already have been billed £15 for the phone call.

If you do receive a card with these details, then please contact Royal Mail
Fraud on 02072396655 or ICSTIS (the premium rate service regulator) at

Please circulate this to avoid anyone else being ripped off. "

Sunday, October 21, 2007

AI Web Services

I asked Peter Norvig to point me towards sites that demonstrate real world applications of AI - mainly in the software world. As he wrote the book (literally in this case) and now works as Director of Research at a company called Google, i figured he'd be a good start.

He pointed me at a great resource here which has a list of projects as well as some here in Scotland.

I am interested in more however. Although i have a background in Applied Physics and software development, i do not have a very deep knowledge of algorithms and AI - however my experience over a number of years gives me a *feeling* that there are potential reusable components - or more likely - pluggable web services - that use AI and can be re-used in your application.

I want to get a list of these. Imagine a simple one - take a paragraph of text (say a blog post) and reccommend tags. This could be a library component as part of an application or a web service.

Anyone have pointers?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Applications of Intelligent Systems

For a number of years - since actually doing some emergent fractals work in C++ back in 1993 or so - i have been interested in intelligent and emergent systems. I read Emergence a few years back and it only hightened my awareness and desire that rather than creating some elete intelligent system, rather i'd like to add intelligent components to my applications.

I watched the self-aware robots talk by Hod Lipson at TED. If i wasn't doing what i do now, THAT is what i'd like to do. Not so much the robots (although myself and son are playing with Lego MindStorms) but the software and ideas that create and apply this stuff. Amazing.

After looking for some books on writing this (couldn't find any in C#) i found the seminal book "Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach" by Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig. I will re-write their algorithms in C# as needed - there is a Java effort going on too that is cool.

HOWEVER, the single post that really illustrates what i want from this is in Peter Norvig's "Doing the Martin Shuffle".

He discusses and demonstrates a real world technique that could be used to improve how the iPod shuffles the songs it plays to you. How ironic as it's Google (who doing amazing rsearch) and Apple (who do amazing UX) kind of sums up my take on thing.. trying new concepts with actual people!

So the next step IMHO is to take something like the AI book and also take some ideas in the real world (web 2.0 apps are all the rage so why not start there!) and show how intelligent components could be plugged in.

Very cool stuff!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

YouTube Video Identification Beta

David King, the Product Manager of Google's YouTube just launched this beta.
The idea is you can identify your works on YouTube and i guess others can know it is identified as being from you.
I'm not sure whether it's really for security rather then simple identification - the idea of being able to know what videos have been published - perhaps even by others - on YouTube by a simple hash query over the video content is quite interesting.
Jeramiah has some interesting comments on it.

Peek-a-boo FREE Tricks & Treats for You! Get 'em!

Robot helecopter from Stanford

Watched this video this morning with my son after Robert Scoble pointed me at it throw Twitter.

"Is that from Star Wars" said my four year old son Xavier.

It is very very cool but now puts a hell of a lot of pressure on us as we are building a robot using MindStorms.

I also watched Steve Gillmor and Dan Farber get kicked off Dow Jones property whilst discussing whether Facebook is worth $100 billion. Even my wife asked me what the heck was going on. Finally i caught Scoble talking with Six Apart. Good guys and some nice ideas.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Third World Wind Power

I read this great post from Tim O'Reilly - Third World Wind Power

I love this kind of thinking - not only because of the vast amount of good it can do for the Third World, but also at the relative simplicity of it. Thinking different.

BTW - this isn't only for the third world - this could work in Scotland too - we certainly get more wind that many places in the world.

More detailed information can be found here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

re: E-mail Faces Deletion

Scoble pointed me towards an interesting discussion over at Business Week entitled "E-mail Faces Deletion".

I am going to twitter him? No - there's not enough space in 140 chars. Am i going to email him? No. He'll never read it. A few people may read it and it there is enough interest someone may point him to it (or directly through Twitter).

The point is that email is not right for a conversation. 25 messages to arrange a meeting where the overhead is 6 times the content CAN'T be right... and on a mobile (come on SMS has proven this in the UK alone).

A great point by Scoble is
"But when I left, my e-mail account was turned off. I don’t have access to that
knowledge now."

.. and neither do THEY! Everyone loses.

Twitter, Jaiku and so on are not perfect - it gives people like me a chance to write something better. It's all a step in the right direction.

Email is dead as the primary communication method IMHO - i use it because, like letters, people still do things that way. But, for a few key emails, the rest is broadcast or spam. Communication is going to be about content and pointers to that content (tweets, jaiku's, others) - you write, suggest and maybe i read - kinda like reading an email subject line and deciding whether to read the email.

In saying that, anyone who thinks communication is going to be one dimensional probably thinks Google is the final answer in search.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Movavi - please add an API!!!

After doing some research i came across an excellent service from Movavi which allows you to convert media files to flash formats to make it easy to play them back to users.

They even have an SDK and it's a great price too, but here's a suggestion. Add an API!!!!

There is no doubt a a hassle adding all the codecs and such for doing the conversion and when they add new codec support you need to download and update and so on.

However, if they could allow you to call there API as a service it would be very powerful indeed!! I know someone over at Amazon Web Services had created an AMI for transcoding - however the Movavi service is very extensive and supports exactly what i expect most developers would need.

They could likely integrate some payment method - but it would need to be around the level of Amazon's to keep it open and available to small startup companies like my own.

If you read this and agree then add a comment - maybe they're listening!