Bad science in the New York Times

The “cell phone electromagnetic fields are giving you cancer” people have a new target: now it’s hybrid cars that are going to kill you. The NYT gasps: While Americans live with E.M.F.’s all around — produced by everything from cellphones to electric blankets — there is no broad agreement over what level of exposure constitutes a health hazard, and there is no federal standard that sets allowable exposure levels. Yeah, that may be because nobody’s ever managed to reliably, scientifically demonstrate a negative health effect from everyday electromagnetic fields applied to human beings.

Phone vs watch

I gather that increasing numbers of people these days use their cell phone to tell the time, and don’t bother with a watch. However, the watch is fighting back. Behold, the quad band GSM phone in a wristwatch, with Bluetooth (so you can pair it with a headset for phone use) and OLED display showing analog hands. Plus 1.3MP camera, kinetic battery recharge, and MP3 player. At 13mm thick it’s still pretty bulky, but not much worse than my Casio G-Shock.

Crank radio for cranks

I’m by no means a survivalist crackpot–I’m entirely too reliant on modern pharmaceuticals–but the Eton FR1000 is really cool. It’s an FM, AM and GMRS radio (walkie-talkie) with vox activation. It’s an LED flashlight and emergency siren. It’ll charge your cell phone. And it can be powered by AA batteries, rechargeable NiMH, AC adaptor, or hand crank! All it’s missing is shortwave.

BlackBerry Curve review

In mid November, our contract with AT&T (formerly Cingular) expired. We switched to T-Mobile and got BlackBerry Curve phones. I was a BlackBerry skeptic for a long time. I didn’t think I wanted a phone with a full QWERTY keyboard. This changed when we looked at the phones available. It turned out that the Curve was only marginally wider than the average phone, perhaps a centimeter or so. It’s otherwise comparable to mid-range phones in size.

Hell hath no fury like a phone company scorned

When I moved to the USA, one of the first things I did was get a cell phone. I was going to be living in a big city, rothko was working in a different part of town, we needed to coordinate things–it seemed to make sense. We went to Omnipoint, got a couple of phones, everything was good. A few years later, Omnipoint were purchased by Voicestream. We got a phone upgrade.

Mast debate

A recent BBC Panorama documentary has suggested that wifi Internet might be a major health hazard. Scary quotes about chromosome damage and radiation exposure have appeared all over the Internet. Unfortunately, the documentary’s conclusions are junk science. Let’s start off by noting the inverse square law, a piece of basic physics which applies to electromagnetic radiation exposure. Basically, the strength of a signal varies in proportion to the distance squared.

Nokia N800

I bought a Nokia N800. It’s an Internet tablet, about the size of a large PDA or a small thin paperback book; almost exactly the same size as a Nintendo DS Lite, in fact. It runs Linux. It connects via WiFi or Bluetooth. I bought it because I spend a lot of time reading web pages, PDFs and other electronic documents. In particular, my “killer app” was to be able to read the electronic edition of The Guardian with my morning coffee—ideally, in bed.

The spam problem part 2: The dismal science

In Part 1 I took a “from first principles” look at the spam problem, and concluded that the only way to actually solve the problem was to make people pay to send e-mail.

Now, it’s time to look at what I mean by that—because there are almost as many ways to implement “pay to send” as there are ways to implement filtering.

This is going to be a bit more technical than part 1. I’m going to assume you know basically how SMTP e-mail works. If not, there are tutorials available.

Global village idiot

[Update: Looking for a more positive story about ubiquitous cameras?] David Brin wrote about the coming social revolution at length in his book The Transparent Society. Momus provided some handy tips in his song The Age of Information. Now Dog-Shit-Girl has demonstrated the dangers of not picking up the courtesy cluephone. We live in a world where increasing numbers of people have digital cameras. In fact, in a few years the majority of people will have a mobile phone with built-in camera and Internet connection.

N-Gage mini-review

2003-10-11 I saw the Nokia N-Gage today. I confidently predict that it will be a dismal failure, based on the following features: The size of an original Game Boy Advance. Needs about 2x the pocket space of a Game Boy Advance SP. Tiny screen, about 2/3 the size of a Palm device, half the size of a GBA-SP. Complicated. I fiddled around with it for a while trying to work out how to make a game start, then gave up.