Monday, April 30, 2007

Police Officials - New Crime Detection & Prevention Technology

Random gunfire has continued to be a significant problem in several large cities throughout the United States. However, city police stations are now entering a new realm of crime fighting and prevention with Gunshot Detection Systems.

Gunshot detection systems use sensors designed to detect the sonic boom of a bullet that travels faster than the speed of sound. Others use sensors that pick up the optical characteristics of a muzzle blast, the explosion that propels the bullet out of the gun barrel. Shot Spotter, a system deployed in Washington, D.C relies on an acoustics based and GPS-equipped system that automatically locates the origin of the shot and notifies authorities. A series of acoustic sensors picks up the sound waves of a muzzle blast that radiate outward from the barrel in all directions.

The devices are mounted on telephone poles in what has been deemed 'High Crime' neighborhoods. They listen for the distinctive sound of a gunshot and immediately alert a police dispatcher when one is detected. A video camera in the device allows the dispatcher to keep an eye on the scene until officers arrive.

If the police department has installed video cameras with the detection devices, either the device or a dispatcher can angle the video camera in the direction that the gunfire came from. Dispatchers can also listen to a recording of the sound on their computers to make sure it's not a false alarm, as might be caused by a firecracker or other explosion.

The devices are still being geared in perfecting the sound recognizing process. Shot Spotter devices were tested originally in Texas & in Redwood City, CA which indeed accurately detected 80% of test shots. However, when the devices were first turned on, they got a detection of gunshots, so police rushed to surround a senior citizen in his old back firing truck.

Even with the few misguided / mis recognized sounds, police officers say they are amazed to learn just how often guns are actually being fired in their cities. Police have said that they can now respond to incidents they may never have known about before and to events of multiple calls much quicker and accurately. In one city, police responded to a Shot Spotter alarm that went off two days after the network was installed and found two men firing shots from a stolen pistol. According to police reports, it took the officers only three minutes to arrive at the location of the incident. The pistol had been stolen just 15 minutes earlier.

In Redwood City, law enforcement officials recorded nearly 400 gunshots on New Year's Eve in 1998. Most are thought to have been "celebratory" shots fired into the air. On New Year's Eve 2002, the city recorded fewer than 10. With the gunshot detection systems, crime has decreased and it has been attributed to a combination of the gunshot detection systems and a widespread campaign to let residents know that they could get caught, said Chris Rasmussen, executive director of the Redwood City Police Activities League.

The FBI brought a Shot Spotter system into Franklin County in an attempt to catch the alleged Ohio sniper wanted for a number of shootings in the area. Though the system did not directly lead to the arrest of the suspect, an FBI representative said he wished his department could have kept the system after the investigation. "It's an incredibly good system," he said. "It gave us the ability to respond very, very quickly to shots fired.... You never knew which one could have been the right call."

Following what was said to be the most violent year in Boston, Councilor Rob Consalvo proposed that city officials look into installing gunshot detection systems because only 20% to 30% of gunshots are reported to authorities because people fear the repercussions for reporting the shots.

Conversely, public safety does not come without a high price tag. The systems can cost tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on how many devices are being installed and what the unit's capabilities are. Police departments can decide whether they want to make them bulletproof and whether they want to make the units conspicuous so residents know the devices are in the area. In the Chicago units, they have large police stars on the side and blue lights on top that flash when the system is activated. But is that a good thing? Do they really want to announce to the criminal suspect that police are on the way and they should leave or hide to avoid being caught?

As America continues to enhance homeland security measures, it is interesting to find out that PDAs may soon play an important role in early detection of a problem. The company Proxity is working on the development of the On Alert Gunshot Detection System (GDS) that will allow a device to capture data related to gunshots and send it to law enforcement officers via a wirelessly connected PDA for a faster response. Future versions may also include the ability to pick up people's screams or natural disasters to provide for faster emergency response.

Safety Dynamics, Inc. has been continuously working on advancements and continually adds sound signatures to be part of the DSNN library of recognized sounds. Training the DSNN to recognize other signatures, like a running diesel truck engine, is under way. What will set this technology apart will be the level of recognition even when background noise levels are high.

While the new technology is fascinating and reassuring that police crime fighting and prevention have not lagged behind in the cave man progression of technology there are questions to be considered.

Can technology in the software truly tell the difference between sounds of gun fire and trucks / cars that back fire?

Will the units know the difference between a shoot out and some immature malicious people driving around throwing firecrackers out the window?

Are we, as the public they protect willing to accept that our safety comes with a high price tag and are we willing to pay the price?

With so many negative police articles, discussions, debates and even witnessing police present tickets for the least harmful of civil offenses, sometimes on a daily basis... we still need a structured police force with the capability to respond to criminal offenses.

Employment positions that need to be filled by police and detectives is expected to grow as much as 30% in the next 7 years.

However, there is a debate in our security conscious society that could do us more harm than good if we continue to work against police instead of with them and vice versa.

As a result, some city police forces are having trouble filling vacant positions with qualified candidates. As we demand that police do more about drug related crimes, an increase will rise for police services. The police of today needs the technology of 3 years from now in order to prevent criminals who have tomorrow's technology yesterday.

Law enforcement jobs provide a great deal of security after you pass probation. There is job security, the pay is good, the benefits are on average very good, and there is an excellent pension plan and there is always a step on the career ladder. In addition, Police Officers have a career that makes a real difference in people's lives and helps to make communities safer.

It's definitely not the glamour career of celebrities, but it does allow you to know you are making a difference and you are part of something valuable...even if there are a few dings in the shield.

Online Slander & Threats

Much easier to intimidate and slander behind a computer screen.

More and more people are becoming targets of harassments. Although far more women are targets of sexual harassment and threats, men are becoming the targets of jaded and misguided women. For middle and high school (mostly females) students, online social networking Web sites such as MySpace have become the new venue for school bullying.

Arianna Huffington, operats Huffington Post which is among the most prominent of blogs founded by women. Huffington said online anonymity has allowed "a lot of dark prejudices towards women to surface."

Men Harassed By Women Online

Most of the results for online harassment found online will be for women harassed by men. However, women are finding it much easier to go online and accuse men of wrong doing in the emotionless electronic communication system. Once a women is “wronged” some women may go in search of restoring her pride by lashing out at male who wrong her by extending the truth of a occurrence.

Someone may become furious when their attraction is not returned. Other times, what should have remained a disagreement between two people can easily turn into an vicious battle of “Who’s telling the truth” where both parties and supposed eye witnesses state they saw the whole thing. Yet some people may simply be an online bully, who likes to push people around by posting slanderous forum messages and or enjoys terrorizing anther from behind a computer screen.

Too often, people and especially supportive women are willing to assume any man is capable and willing of commenting sexual harassment. The problem with the “I saw it all” kind of thinking is that there is almost always one person who will stretch the truth in order to ensure the accused victimizer will receive his (or her) due punishment.

Cyberspace Is The Place of Lowered Inhibitions.

Forums, social networking sites and instant messaging encourages people to say things they might not have said if they were face to face because people talking to one another online are far away from physically contact. Anonymity and physical distance mean that people online are protected from the immediate consequences of their actions. A person can type words that if they had been said face to face might have provoke a physical argument.

Face to face, people are careful how they talk to strangers because they don't know what offends them, online the majority of people do not care. Online people are often very direct with strangers regardless, because after all, "so what if I make a mistake and offend the other person? What is that person going to do?"

The New High School Bully

Many high school students don't see any difference with the online environment and joking around, and what amounts to idle threats. To most kids online postings is just the new way to joke around. Many school districts have blocked MySpace type web sites from use on school computers. But students often upload the threats at home or in neighborhood libraries -- which is outside the district's jurisdiction.

Two Bullitt County (Kentucky) teens were charged and convicted of terrorist threatening when they posted a MySpace comment threatening to put a bullet through a middle school student's head. The court system placed them under home incarceration and on Monday after the court decision, they were back in school because the juveniles didn't violate any school policies.

Cyber harassment is gaining more attention and as the more serious individuals become more daring, laws are being created to silence them. WHOA (Working to Halt Online Abuse) is at the forefront of information to educate what is online harassment and empower victims of harassment. In addition, they continually work to articulate voluntary policies that network administrators can implement in hopes of lessen potential abuse.

Police Officials - New Crime Detection & Prevention Technology

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Getting your swim on

All the show without the burning sting and possible death.

Battery-operated Floating Jellyfish Pool Lights unleash a kaleidoscope of color as they float in the water.

  • Crafted of durable PVC
  • Realistic, fiber-optic tentacles emit a vibrant glow
  • Top changes colors throughout the light show
  • Controlled by a simple auto-off switch

For a more disco effect, add an Underwater Laser Light Show which projects variable dancing light patterns and colors onto the sides and bottom of the pool.

Product Development

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Seattle to unveil the world's first hybrid tugboat

Foss Maritime of Seattle has announced it will construct the world's first hybrid tugboat. Why a tug boat? Seattle uses a variety of tugboats in their city tourist / maritime trade. In an effort to promote the idea of cleaner greener boats, the project was partially funded by the Port of Los Angeles.

A Memorandum of Understanding was made between the Port of Los Angeles and South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) in an effort to develop less polluting technology for harbor craft operations within the L.A./Long Beach port harbors. As a potential solution of satisfying the Memorandum of Understanding, The Port matched a $1,000,000 California Air Resources Board (CARB) grant to create a $2,000,000 program to help develop less polluting technology.

One of the biggest benefits of the hybrid will be eliminating the loss of fuel used when they're simply idling in harbor. Currently, tug boats use nearly half their fuel idling just waiting to be used while docked. With the new rig, however, "instead of idling the main engines while in standby mode when alongside a customer vessel awaiting orders from the pilot, the hybrid tug will run on battery power with the main engines shut down."

The result of the hybrid will be reduced fuel consumption, carbon, nitrogen oxide, and sulphur dioxide emissions; and noise. The look and feel to the boat will be almost identical to its sister Dolphin-class tug boats coupled with diesel generators and feature a modified engine room accommodating two 670 horsepower battery packs and two 335 horsepower generators.

"Tugs are the backbone of ports worldwide, and the 'hybrid' tug Foss will produce is a first in the industry,"

said Geraldine Knatz Ph.D. executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.

"Because the air emissions reductions are absolutely extraordinary, this is the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that our port encourages and welcomes in line with the San Pedro Bay Clean Air Action Plan."

Foss Maritime isn’t the only bold boating commence. Germany's Beluga Shipping will unveil the world's first hybrid container ship this fall.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

First Potentially Habitable Planet Outside the Solar System Found

Born Libra - Hope?...Maybe I really am from anther planet!?

A multi-national team of Swiss, French and Portuguese scientists have discovered the first potentially habitable planet outside of our solar system. It is estimated to have a radius 50% bigger than the Earth, so gravity on it would be about twice as strong as it is here, and it orbits a red dwarf called Gliese in the constellation Libra.

The exoplanet is 14 times closer to its star than the Earth is from the Sun and so its year is only 13 Earth days long. The good news is that since the red dwarf is “smaller and cooler than the Sun, (one third of the mass), the plan­et lies in a hab­it­a­ble zone. I wonder how many days of summer would that be?

"Av­er­age tem­pe­r­a­tures on the planet lie be­tween 32 to 104 de­grees Fahren­heit " said St├ęphane Udry of Switz­er­land’s Ge­ne­va Ob­serv­a­to­ry, lead au­thor of a pa­pe­r re­port­ing the re­sult. “Mod­els pre­dict that the plan­et should be ei­ther rock­y—like our Earth—or cov­ered with oceans,” he added

“Be­cause of its tem­pe­r­a­ture and rel­a­tive prox­im­i­ty, this plan­et will most prob­a­bly be a very im­por­tant tar­get of the fu­ture space mis­sions ded­i­cat­ed to the search for extraterrestrial life. On the treas­ure map of the Uni­verse, one would be tempted to mark this plan­et with an X.”

The find was pos­si­ble thanks to an in­stru­ment known as a spec­tro­graph on the Eu­ro­pe­an South­ern Ob­serv­a­to­ry’s 3.6-meter tel­e­scope at La Silla, Chil­e.

Great…. Anther planet for humans to destroy… I hope extraterrestrials are working on a force field or at the very least an extraterrestrials brain wave scanning system. Than again, if they are already scooping us out for potential galaxy trade, than I, for one, will welcome the new class M planet overlords.

"You expect us to sit up here for a week while probes have all the fun?"

- Enterprise/Strange New World - Tripp (Commander Charles Tucker)

Epic poetry can be written by one author... but epic technology requires an army.

An Unconventional, Delphic Craigslist Job Listing

A year ago, Wilford and I had an idea for our own kind of epic poetry... an epic social media technology that would capture the range of human experience and emotion, and leave an indelible mark on the history of the world.

Epic poetry can be written by one author... but epic technology requires an army.

Avanoo is beginning to build that army... and we're looking for two talented, driven, and passionate software developers to be our first officers.

Bad Business - Changing Your Truth

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Fish Out Of Water

Lloyd Godson is a marine biologist with a love for water adventures and the marine ecosystem. He spent 13 days underwater in a steel box called the BioSUB

The experiment was to see if it would be possible to live underwater long term and to make a point about sustainable living. Located in Australia, near the Wonga Wetlands between Albury and Howlong, Lloyd Godson used a system of solar panels combined with both plants and Like-A-Fish technology to provide his oxygen.

A pedal-powered generator was built to create the electricity to recharge his laptop for communications and entertainment, and an algae garden was established to absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen for breathing.

For bathroom disposal, Godson recycled his own urine through the algae garden but his waste was disposed in airtight containers, which was than removed by divers who delivered him food and drinking water.

For entertainment, Godson watched videos on his laptop and used a wireless Internet connection to communicate with schoolchildren from around the world. And on Easter; according to media reports, an "Easter shark" swam by with an air tight basket container of chocolate eggs.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Not new but unusual: Nine Inch Nails CD heats up a secret

The new Nine Inch Nails' CD: "Year Zero" holds an interesting secret. The CD is thermally reactive; it turns white when it comes in contact with a heat source. This is something that could actually promote buying the CD as opposed to stealing it.

The CD is black when you open the case. Once you listen to the music and remove the disc from your player, the CD than turns white with black abstract looking designs.

In addition, Nine Inch Nails front man
Trent Reznor is using a multimedia scavenger hunt that leads fans to online destinations to promote the new "Year Zero" album, which is now available for purchase. However, when I went to the website, I wasn't able to locate the hunt. So maybe you have to purchase the CD in order to participate?

The marketing agency 42 Entertainment is behind the new form of entertainment, as Reznor perceives it instead of a CD promo. They’re also the agency that was behind 2005's "alternate-reality game" promoting the Halo 2 videogame for the XBox.

A source with knowledge of the project says the campaign forms the body of the "Year Zero" experience as reported by CNN

"It is the CD booklet come to life. It precedes the concept album and the tour. And it will continue for the next 18 months, with peaks and valleys." The source continues, "No one has assembled the full story yet. The new media is creating the story as it goes."

In 2005, web-savvy fans discovered that highlighted letters in the words of a NIN concert tour T-shirt spelled out "I am trying to believe." Web savvy fans added a .com to the five words and, click, located a thought provoking and eerie website.

I plugged into the Year Zero website and listened to the Year Zero music. It’s good - it’s very good.

The thermally reactive CD, thought provoking t-shirts and the scavenger hunt is a genuine piece of marketing genius. It entices fans and potential new fans into buying the CD. When was the last time you saw an artist put this much thought into the CD?

Friday, April 6, 2007

Meet Your Dream Chick

People who know me personally know I'm a bit of a Tomboy. As with any good Tomboy, I have a variety of male friends. Every now and than as I'm hanging out with one of my male friends, the will mention that they are not able to meet any chicks. A very sad predicament indeed.

My male buddies, an alternative has been created.

Sega Toys has launched the most (disgustingly) cute toy that may have ever hit the markets. Meet your Dream Chick

A fluffy palm sized baby chick, that flaps its wings when held. The chick looks very realistic, but fortunately, lacks the capacity to peck at you when you pet it.

After your long day at work, your Dream Chick will provide you with comfort and melt your heart with the peeps it lets out as you stroke its fuzzy little head. Ahhhhhhhh

Now, you might look at this and think, “Oh, great, another stupid toy”. You’re probably right. But for someone who needs a barely legal chick to tramp around with, maybe this little guy would do the trick.

Available for around $12.90

A Career Where You Never Grow Old &

You Never Grow Up

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Brass Knuckles Wine Opener

Uncork with attitude.

While not exactly a gadget, no wine connoisseur with a sense of humor can miss the appeal of this corkscrew. The corkscrew smoothly blends utility and winking, dark humor, and you can easily see this being a hit at your next dinner party (not to mention a vicious weapon if things get out of hand).

New Words / Phases Based On or Inspired By Technology

Twenty new words and or phases inspired by computer users

1. Bipodding ~ The act of sharing an Ipod's headphones so that two people can listen at the same time, each using one headphone.
2. Bitcom ~ A short, sitcom-style video available over the internet.

3. Blogversation ~ interaction between blogs to create a multi level conversion.

4. Bluejacking ~ Temporarily hijacking another person's cell phone by sending it an anonymous text message using the Bluetooth wireless networking system.

5. Crackberry ~ A blackberry handheld computer, particularly one used obsessively; a person who uses such a computer obsessively

6. Knowbie ~ A knowledgeable and experienced Internet user.

7. Mososo (moh.SOH.soh) ~ Mobile social software; a program that enables you to use your mobile phone to find and interact with people near you.

8. Mouse Potato ~ A person who spends a lot of time at the computer

9. Newpeat ~ A repeat that is slightly different from the original.

10. Photolurker ~ A person who obsessively and anonymously browses strangers' photos posted to online photo~sharing sites.

11. Pyromarketing ~ a new method illustration for marketing

12. Shoefiti (shoo.FEE.tee) n. One or more pairs of shoes tied together by the laces and dangling from a powerline or other type of overhead wire. [Blend of shoe and graffiti.]

13. Social Networking Fatigue ~ Mental exhaustion and stress caused by creating and maintaining an excessive number of accounts on social networking sites.

14. Social Swarming (soh.shul SWOR.ming) ~ The rapid gathering of friends, family, or colleagues using technologies such as cell phones, pagers, and instant messaging.

15. Spim ~ Unsolicited commercial messages sent via an instant messaging system.

16. Third place ~ A place other than home or work where a person can go to relax and feel part of the community.

17. Tryvertising ~ product placement in the real world, integrating your goods and services into daily life in a relevant way, so that consumers can make up their minds based on their experience, not your messages.

18. War chalking (wohr CHAW.king) ~ Using chalk to place a special symbol on a sidewalk or other surface that indicates a nearby wireless network, especially one that offers Internet access.

19. Word Of Mouse ~ Communication via computer~based means, such as e~mail, chat rooms, or newsgroups

20. Yuck Factor ~. Revulsion or discomfort that influences a person's attitude toward a thing or idea.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Shortages of Healthcare Staff Will Be Fulfilled By Robots

In the future, medical professionals will be assisted by mobile electronic attendance machines. Robot Nurses

Robot nurses are a thing of Science Fiction the future. If you have ever been required to spend a week at the hospital, or if you have visited a loved one in the hospital, than mobile "robot" nurses may be a sensitive issue. The first thought that may comes to mind is that you would whether have a caring nurse hold your hand than a robotic mechanism, no matter how efficient they could become.

Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering has launched a projected called IWARD. The abbreviation stands for 'intelligent robot swarm for attendance, recognition, cleaning and delivery'. Ten teams of researchers from Germany and seven other countries will collaborate on the project. The robots are to be made as petite and adaptable as possible. The nurse robots will be equipped with a motor, wheels, an on-board computer, a radio unit, optical sensors, loudspeakers, and cleaning tools for wiping up spills and disinfecting.

"All of these components already exist. The important thing for us is not having new hardware, but advancing the development of swarm intelligence," explains IAO scientist Thomas Schlegel who is coordinating the project.

Schlegel clarified that the robots will need to recognize when they are approaching sensitive equipment such as a CT scanner where they can not transmit radio signals. Radio signals interfere with the imaging system and the robots will have to operate autonomously in such areas. Once they have left the sensitive equipment area, they can than re-establish contact with the robot swarm via WLAN or Bluetooth.

I do wish they would have chosen a different wording than 'robot swarm'; the wording brings up B movie science fiction shows of Big Brother propensity. However, there is always too much to do in a hospital, and most often, the staff is overworked with few days off to recoup. The robot "nurses" are not being created to replace humans; they are being designed to assist nurses and medical technicians in an ever increasing shortage of skilled workers. The future hope is that the robot advancements will be able to take over a wide range of tasks such as finding the patience's doctor, keeping the hospital room clean, and showing visitors to the correct hospital room / area. How many times have you quietly muffled complaints in trying to find the hospital cafeteria or finding the yellow brick road back to the lobby elevators? It took me a couple of minutes to figure out that the main lobby were on the third floor... not the first.

Currently, a telepresence robot dubbed Sister Mary is being tested at St. Mary's hospital in Paddington, London, in the UK. This is part of a remote presence trial. The trial is to observe the activities that allow doctors to examine patients remotely, using the robot as their eyes and ears. The doctor's control center has a double screen, Webcam and joystick for controlling the robot. In addition to being used for patient consultations, the device can help with mentoring and training medical staff remotely.

Anther robot named Nurse Pearl reminds her elderly clients to eat, drink and take they're medicine. She may never win a beauty contest, medical dictionary but she's already won the hearts of elderly patients at the Longwood Retirement Community in Oakmont, Pa. Pearl's designers said they took special care to make her pretty, but it's what's inside that counts:

  • Two Intel Pentium
  • Four processor-based PCs run software to endow her with wit and ability to navigate
  • A differential drive system propels her
  • Wi-Fi helps her communicate
  • Laser range finder
  • A stereo camera systems
  • Sonar sensors guide her around obstructions
  • Microphones help her recognize words
  • Speakers enable others to hear her synthesized speech
  • An actuated head unit swivels in lifelike animation.

All this and more is housed in her slender four and-a-half-foot-tall frame. Almost a hundred years of technology and real women endorsements and yet the first female robot has big eyes and a slim body. Well, at least she has both a great personality and brains.

The swarm based approach will unburden the medical staff from the little details that are mandatory and will return medical members back into the responsibilities that they trained for. Nurses, hospital orderlies and medical technicians work incredibly hard and are overworked. Too many skilled medical workers are leaving the field due to career burn out accompanied by unappreciative family members. With IWARD (robot swarm attendants), medical professionals can concentrate on what they are passionate about, bringing our family and friends back to health with they're superior healthcare training and experience.

Creating Diamonds From Human Ashes

Synthetic diamonds is not anew technology, gemstone manufacturing has been developed since approximately 1945 and many socially conscious celebrities are now choosing synthetic over the troublesome mined variety. However, a new twist for synthetic gemstones such as diamonds exist. A company called LifeGem creates gemstones from carbon that's captured during the cremation of human remains.

It's not a design that appeals to everyone, but the company is finding that an increasing number of people are choosing the services in order to keep a family member’s memory and presence as a lasting beautiful keepsake.

How it works:

Carbon is released during the cremation process which is captured as a dark powder than heated to produce graphite. The graphite is sent to a lab where it is synthesized into a luxury colored diamond or gemstone of choice. Gemstones can be chosen from a variety of shapes such as Round, Princess and Asscher, are available in different carats and options include a small variety of gemstones.

The concept of ‘memorial’ gemstones is still unquic and so far there are only two major memorial diamond firms in the world.

LifeGem (America) and Algordanza (Switzerland) -- both companies have their specialties. LifeGem, for instance, offers to mix ashes with other minerals so that clients can decide if their loved ones would make a better blue, red or yellow-toned stone. Algordanza (who creates only diamonds) flatly refuses such "impure" mixing and insists its diamonds are made from 100 percent human beings. No "genetically-modified gems," so to speak.

Anther company based in Russia named New Age Diamonds offers to make a cultured diamonds using the hair on your stilling head. With a handful of your hair (approx 1 gram's worth), they can combine it with carbon and run it through a HPHT (high pressure, high temperature) machine to create a genuine diamond.

Mourning Jewelry

Some of the earliest examples of mourning jewelry were found in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. Black and white enameled heads or skulls were often set into rings and brooches. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was a status symbol to present mourning rings to friends and families of the bereaved.

In the United States the use of mourning jewelry increased with the outbreak of the Civil War. During the Civil War as the soldiers left home to join the fight, they would leave a lock of hair with their families. Upon the soldier's death, the hair was often made into hair mourning jewelry or placed in a locket. The custom continued throughout the Victorian age and has now made it's way back into fashion.

The process of turning a loved one into a sparkling diamond serves as a fitting tribute to our modern era of ‘bling’. In a world where celebrities drive diamond increasted BMWs and rappers have diamonds in their teeth, perhaps the trend of memorial mourning jewelry will catch on to mean something more than shiny “look, I have money” trinkets.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Geek's Travel Guide:

Online websites to help plan your trip

Today, tech savvy travelers can use online websites to make sure they are getting the best in every city, find the perfect radio station in every town, have a reserved parking space when they arrive, and even sign up for a program that lets them text message other cars using just their license plate number.

Despite all the online technology roadtrippers and vacationers could be using to improve their traveling, most are still resorting to Web 101 such as Mapquest. Mapquest is free because they are paid to give you directions that will put you in the cities or drive past particular businesses that pay them. This doesn’t mean the route is the shortest… its means it the most commercial. There is nothing wrong with this as long as it doesn’t inconvenience you. However, there are new ways and you now have choices.


Ask City

Ask City's simple interface and vividly colored "hybrid" maps make it a favorite among less than savvy internet users. That means that even if your co-pilot has very little internet experience they'll still be able to navigate the site along with you. I typed in Cheesecake factory for Sherman Oaks, CA and received several listings. The location I wanted was at the top of the list. Once I clicked on it, Ask City provided a restaurant summary with Amenities and Reviews.



The site acts as a link between the driver searching for a parking space and the parking space owner looking to rent out a space. Unfortunately, SpotScout is only available in Boston, New York, and San Francisco at this time.

Australia has Findacarpark and The United Kingdom has ParkatmyHouse

Ride Sharing

If you're into road trips but are on a tight budget, or simply dislike driving long distances alone, you can go to the websites below for a road buddy.


RidesterRidester's design makes it ideal for finding other travelers along your route. List your trip (including date, time, route, and price to tag along) on Ridester's network and wait for other travelers to contact you.


eRideShare contains more than 20,000 total ride share listings throughout the US and Canada. But what sets the site apart is the wide range of trips it covers. The site has trips listed as short as running a single errand, to people looking for daily commuter carpoolers, as well as those looking for a cross-country companion. In addition, eRideShare maintains an extensive list of tips and tools for picking the right passenger to help minimize the chances of getting stuck with an undesirable companion.

On The Road Know As You Go


I use Gas Buddy every single week to look up the lesser of multiple gas price evils.

The price of gas is so different from city to city and sometimes from city block to block. To simplify the process, GasBuddy compiles lists of gas prices around the nation making it possible for you to find the best deal.


You have two choices. Bring a ton of complilation CDs or go through the tedious task of having to scroll through the radio dial for a radio station every time you pass through a new city. Now there is a smarter choice. Radio-Locator has done all of the work for you by amassing a list of radio stations in the United States and Canada.

Travel Deal Search


Searche more than 150 websites to find some of the best travel deals the internet has to offer. The site features a comprehensive search list customizable down to the type of currency you prefer to see prices in. The best feature on SideStep is the application's ability to link everything together.

The Real Deal


If you can't decide on where you'd like to vacation, check out VirtualTourist. They offer thousands of photos, mapped destinations, and a great travel guide library that will give you a ton of information you'll need to plan the perfect escape.


RealTravel takes advantage of the internet blogging phenomenon by pairing destination searches to blogs from local residents and other travelers. From there you gain a first hand account of what that destination is truly like. After all, who better to tell you where the locals prefer to eat than a local.

Your Going, Now What?


Simply type the name of the city you're staying in into 43Places search box and hit enter. From there, a list of activities will pop up and give you plenty of places to go