On monday I had 2 different 'bar code' experiences I thought i would share.
As many of you know, 2D bar codes (square ones) are popping up on a lot of products and places today. You can point your smartphone at them, and get the info very quickly (which is often a web site, although i've received business cards with the persons info encoded). Now lots of companies are jumping on the 'mobile' bandwagon, even traditional brick-and-mortar business. observe below, on the left, a cup of tea, offering me a mobile app (to better understand their cup technology), and on the right, heinz ketchup.
But to my surprise, the one on the left has invented an entirely new means of 2D bar codes. It appears microsoft is behind this, they have invented 'gettag' as a means of moving users to their Bing search engine. Too bad, i'm sure the tea-cup app was great, but standard is better than better. the ketchup bar code was tasty tho for sure (point your phone at the image on the below right and you'll see. try the below left and you'll get nothing until u install the microsoft app, which i didn't bother.)
On my flight from Beijing to Nanjing in china the other day there was an interesting advertisement on all the seat backs (at least, i think it was an advertisement).
The ad suggests that "derby the world in my finger". I'm not 100% clear on why i might want to derby the world inside my finger, but I'm sure its a good thing. It seems <a href="http://talesfromthebigtomato.blogspot.com/2009/11/derby-huh.html">others </a>have <a href="http://batteredleatherjournal.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/butchered-english/">also </a>wondered in vain.
In the early days, audio was always uncompressed. During the 90's audio compression started to get reasonable, and mp3 came to be a popular format. This happened around the time people started to get broadband, and the two created an explosive mixture of bandwidth growth.
But that bandwidth growth self-capped, and if u look @ downloaded audio today, its largely the same. The fidelity gap between 128kbps VBR mp3 and uncompressed audio is small enough that it just didn't matter. Thus the bandwidth growth due to fidelity capped itself. The second thing that happend is that the number of songs people could listen to (the amount of information they could process) capped out, and thus the overall amount of bandwidth due to song-swappers became driven only by number of users, no other variable.
Video is going the same direction as audio. It turns out that 1080p H.264 is sufficiently close to 'uncompressed live analog' that there's not as much point in going further. Living rooms aren't getting larger, so we don't need more resolution. The gains due to compression are slowing, and bandwidth growth is again being driven by number of users only.
This could mean that the overall internet bandwidth will self-limit to the rate of information processing a human brain can do live. There is probably some number on that somewhere of so many bits-per-second.
This could mean that the internet will eventually be 'done' when we each have a non-oversubscribed '1xhuman information rate' link to the back of our skull.
This might be approaching sooner than we think.
And lest the naysayers say "what about the collector, storing to disk only", well, the size of storage is also going to asymptotically approach molecular densities and stop growing too.
When I was in grade 5 we had this supply teacher one day. Our regular teacher was a strict bible-thumper beat you with a stick type, so we had high hopes for good hijinx. Somehow through that adolescent shared vision model, we all agreed to drop our pencils precisely at 10am, the idea being it would create a great sound on our portable classroom floor.
We expected a laugh. We instead go the privilege of writing out 5 dictionary pages at lunch hour.
AT&T is now facing the same sort of prank. There is a call to have everyone rev up their mobile data devices at noon on friday. Operation Chokehold is on @ noon pacific. A site called 'fake steve' is suggesting it.
What could the prank accomplish? Well, networks are highly oversubscribed. They are designed for the expected peak-normal traffic. My grade 5 classroom didn't fall to bits from pencils falling, and its unlikely AT&T will catch fire. But it could make things miserable for the people on the network for an hour or so. Its more like '@ 10 stab your neighbour with your pencil'.
One suggestion I theorised with a customer was, what if somewhat wrote a truly malicious application. It worked sort of like a seti@home where it ran in the background and it gave something of value to people when they saw their internet connection idle. Perhaps it would be a reward points system for who sent the most bandwidth, and the top 5 each month got a prize. This would cost the consumer nothing, the application provider nothing, and would wreck every residential ISP in the world. Whenever your machine went idle it would transmit and receive at full rate from others in the network.
The internet is a shared medium, and requires all parties to have a common interest in making it work. Providers, applications, consumers. When it was created, this shared interest was obvious, everyone knew everyone by name. Today, i have not introduced myself to most of my Internet neighbours. I'm sure they're nice.
So, eyes peeled for 12PST friday for AT&T pencil drop.