Category Archives: Technology

Ford Installing Parental Controls

Ford is releasing a new feature on 2010 models that will allow parents to take control of their teen drivers through a computer chip in the key. The chip limits the driver to 80mph and has the options of limiting audio volume and sending alerts when seatbelts are not worn.

Ford says, “Our message to parents is, hey, we are providing you some conditions to give your new drivers that may allow you to feel a little more comfortable in giving them the car more often.” 75 percent of parents are for the system while 67 percent of teenagers are against it.

Some teens say what they think about it:

“I wouldn’t want my parents to have that much control over how I’m driving. If your parents are holding your hand, you’re never going to learn.”

“There may be emergency situations where [I] would have to drive more than 80, possibly to accelerate to avoid a crash.”

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xPirate’s thoughts on the subject: Dear worried parents, LEAVE YOUR KIDS ALONE! I have a huge problem with parents not being able to accept the fact that their teens are growing up. The constant restrictions force them to rebel even more, possibly by just stealing the parent’s key or learning how to deprogram the key, resulting in worse consequences and more “bad teens”.

Remember, back in the day, when you learned how to drive at age 12 and didn’t have all this fancy technology. You learned on your own. Like a real human being. I don’t remember this, because I’m only 17, but I must agree with the person who quoted above. How in the world do you expect teens to learn if they are constantly being restricted with rules and regulations?

It is when freedom is limited that creativity is stifled and the once free-thinking mind becomes a slave.

Also, anyone who speeds over 80 and is not on the interstate, is mad crazy insane and probably deserves to get in a car accident. It’s called population control. Stupid people were meant to die so that the smarter ones can live on.

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Recycling Now Comes With Coupons!

Boston has started giving its citizens an incentive for going green. Large recycling bins containing high tech equipment scan each household’s recyclables for a radio frequency ID tag and then weighs the amount recycled that week. This information is transmitted to a website that awards points that can be redeemed for discounts. “It’s like a frequent-flier program for recyclers.”

The system is ran by a company called RecycleBank who’s main premise is to turn trash into treasure. Their goal is to be serving 1 million people by the end of 2009. The company is very focused on going green and thought that more people would recycle if they could get something back for it.

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xPirate gives a response: Gosh. I’m such a conflicting person. I’m very happy that this company is trying to encourage more and more Americans to recycle, but what pisses me off is that people feel they need incentive to do it! Is it not good enough that you are saving the Earth from the mass destruction that you are the direct cause of?

But I’m not going to bother all of you with my opinions on the stupidity of ignorant humans. I want to try and focus more on the technological side of these mechanisms. First of all, I didn’t know my recyclables are tagged with a radio frequency ID. Are people tracking my trash? And if so, why? I guess I just don’t fully understand that part of it. One question I have is, how much do you have to recycle to get a relevant amount of points? Because if you’re looking at needing a crap-ton of trash just for like $1 off some soda, that’s not very good personal gain. Of course, I don’t believe you should recycle for personal gain in the first place, so it doesn’t really matter.

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ASE Calls for Asteroid Defense

Earlier last week a group of space explorers from the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) held a meeting with the UN in which they highly recommended an international defense in case a dangerous object such as an asteroid were to be headed toward Earth. It’s been 65 million years since such an event. In 2004 there was a scare with the asteroid Apophis which was recalculated to not be a threat. ASE has predicted there will be an immediate threat within the next 15 years.

Schweickart, an astronaught working with the ASE, says that they do not expect the UN to carry out an space missions, they just want somebody in charge of decision making. He says, When you have an asteroid threatening Earth, it’s uncertain where it’s going to hit until the last minute; the decision to take action has to be coordinated by the international community…. We’ve developed a program to get the international community prepared to make timely decisions so the technology we know we have can be used to protect life”

There have been several proposals in the past years on how to deflect an asteroid. The main proposal by the European Space Agency would involve sending up two space crafts. The first craft would plow into the asteroid while the second craft would check for a change in trajectory.

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xPirate offers his thoughts: I’m still deciding whether I see asteroids as a direct threat to Earth right now. I think, given the 65 million years since the last major impact, that we’re probably due for something soon, right? Or not. Either way, it’s important to have a plan in case there was such a threat. The problems I see are that any asteroid that’s going to cause a big threat wouldn’t be easily moved by an man-made spacecraft. Perhaps if there is an asteroid headed to wipe all of us out, maybe it’s just our time to become extinct and we should accept that. Of course, scientists would never go for that.

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I’m a PC – New Microsoft Commercial

Microsoft has released a new commercial to combat the stereotype that the Mac commercials have given to PC users. The commercial shows various people around the world using the famous line from the Mac commercials, “I’m a PC.” The general message given is that PC’s are not just for the boring old conservative CEO.

xPirate, are you a Mac or a PC? First of all, I love this commercial. It always pissed me how the Mac commercials made fun of PC users. If I were in one of the commercials, I would have to say, “I’m a PC.” It’s not that I’m an avid Windows fan, because believe me I’ve had my troubles with the operating system, it’s just that the problems I’ve faced with Macs far exceed those. I’m not going into much detail because I just got a new story that I want to get covered involving the campaign.

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Nissan Releases New Phone

Today in Tokyo, Japan Nissan announced the first ever combination phone and intelligent key system. The phone is fully functional with the added features of locking and unlocking your car as well as starting and killing the engine. Manual entry is still possible with the device, as with most intelligent key systems. As the demand for more and more mobile features continues to grow we can expect to see more technology such as this.

The product will be demonstrated by Nissan, DOCOMO, and Sharp at CEATEC in Japan which begins September 30. The product is aimed for release in early 2009. For more information you can check out the official press release.

xPirate’s thought: The techie in me is screaming awesome, while the hippie in me screams, “How lazy do people have to be?” I guess that’s not really this product’s fault however. I never even imagined seeing a phone with a built in intelligent key system. This is probably due to the fact that I don’t associate my phone with my car at all. I’m interested in seeing what consumers will think of this product.

On the other hand, it would be nice to have your keys and phone all in one. That’s less you’d have to carry around with you, plus you wouldn’t have that annoying jingle in your pocket. What we really need to see, Nissan, is this phone with a built in identification system including driver’s licenses, credit cards, and all that crap I carry around in my wallet. And better still, make it an ATM! It sucks having to drive all the way to the nearest ATM when you need cash. I suppose that technology won’t happen for another few years though.

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End of the World Halted due to Technical Errors

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the largest particle accelerator ever built that resides near Geneva. The collider’s purpose is to smash two protons together at extremely high speeds in an attempt to simulate the conditions created moments after the Big Bang. This has worried many of the world’s citizens as it is supposed to create a series of small black holes. It has been labeled on the internet as the “THE END OF THE WORLD!”

However, due to a recent helium leak, work with the LHC has been halted for another year. Scientists say the leak occurred after a faulty electrical connection shorted on the magnets that guide the protons. The helium keeps the magnets cooled to temperatures close to absolute zero (-273 Celsius). In order to fix the problem the room has to be slowly heated back up, the electrical error needs to be fixed, and then it needs to be slowly recooled. This will take up to the time when the lab closes for the winter season. Scientists have claimed the collider will be up and running again by April of 2009, if everything goes according to plan.

xPirate’s thought on the topic: The thing you’re probably all dying to hear is, do I think the LHC will be the cause of the end of the world? Well, if it keeps facing technical difficulties until 2012, then just maybe! We shouldn’t be worried too much about the LHC. If the world’s top physicists aren’t worried, then we have no reason to be. I mean, the atom bomb was supposed to set the atmosphere on fire. So who do we trust, a bunch of internet crazed maniacs who post pictures of a CERN physicist that looks like a Half-Life 2 character, or some of the brightest minds in the world?

What we really need to be worried about is what is going to happen in 2012 when the magnetic field reverses and the north and south pole suddenly switch places. The entire world flipping upside down in a matter of seconds? That’s TRUE danger if you ask me. Or maybe we need to be worrying about the collapsing economy. But I suppose that’s for another blog.

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Spore – The Most Pirated Game in History

Spore has been one of the most anticipated games in gaming history, however after Electronic Arts (EA) released the game containing new digital rights management (DRM) software, it has become the heat of controversy. The software known as SecuROM changes some registry entries on your machine to make sure that the game can only be installed 3 times. After the 3rd install you have to contact EA and ask for another install.

EA claims that this DRM software was set in place to put a stop to piracy, however the only ones suffering are those who purchase legal copies of the game. A cracked version of the game was released forcing many usually legal gamers to
pirate the game simply to bypass the troubles of the DRM software. Spore is on it’s way to becoming the most pirated game in history with over 500,000 downloads.

If you aren’t using the game in an illegal way, why would you need more than 3 downloads? This question has been posed by many less tech-enthusiastic people out there. There are many reasons that gamers would need more than 3 installs. Everyone has technical failures and sometimes you just can’t avoid cleaning your HD and starting over. Any active computer user will tell you that this is necessary way more than 3 times in the average life-span of a computer. Some gamers want to install the game on different machines in their household for the simple purpose that more than one person in the house might want to play the game. By allowing only 3 installs, EA leads gamers to believing that they no longer own the game they purchased. You pay good money for a good game, but when it comes time for that 4th install you either have to go through the long and tedious EA support line to get another install or you have to purchase another copy of the game (which might be the easier of the two options).

What are xPirate’s thought on the subject? – I neither support nor condemn piracy. I believe there are circumstances in which piracy is morally okay and then there are the cases where piracy is wrong. I am not one to judge. However, I believe that EA made a huge mistake by including the SecuROM software in the Spore game. It was highly anticipated and would have made the company so much money giving the right circumstances. However, because EA chose to include this software, they lost a majority of their legal customers to piracy, the thing they were attempting to stop. With Spore being close to the most pirated game in history, it is obvious that EA took a step in the wrong direction. Solution? Remove the annoying software and give gamers the ownership of the game they paid for! Combating piracy is not an easy task. This is just an example of how one company messed with the fire and felt the burn.

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