May 13, 2011

Stolen laptop recovered with help of technology, Twitter followers

Sean Power (or @seanpower) riveted the Twitterverse last night with his play-by-play of his efforts to use technology and the Twitter crowd to reclaim his stolen laptop.

His computer had been stolen days before in New York City and Sean had to fly to Canada in the meantime. But on his computer, he had free, open-source location-tracking software, called Prey, that alerted him when his laptop was being used. His laptop's webcam took pictures of the alleged thief, and tracked him as he surfed the Web, used Skype and even logged in to his bank account!

Sean ends up calling the guy and arranging for his computer to be given to two people, who apparently heard about the drama as it unfolded on Twitter, and offered to help Sean.

It's a crazy tale of high-tech and, um, crowdsourcing, I suppose, your stolen laptop's recovery. Hit up the links over in Geekwire to dig further into the story.

Here's a question: how popular is the Prey software today after Sean's story?

Here's their video of how the software works:

Prey Project introduction from Carlos Yaconi on Vimeo.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

November 15, 2010

Baltimore's ZeroChroma launches: unique cases for mobile devices

I did a Q&A with Brian Le Gette, original co-founder of 180s (you know the company that makes those funky behind-the-head ear warmers) and we talked about his latest venture: ZeroChroma.

Le Gette (below left) teamed up with Dave Reeb (right) to design a patent-pending collapsible swivel stand that pops out of the back of a flat case. The design has great potential for many different kinds of applications, but for now, Le Gette and Reeb are focused on the mobile device case market.


The pair are doing a product launch push this week and, early next year, their hope is that their cases for Apple iOS devices are stocked in the Apple Store and Best Buy.

For those investment banker types out there, ZeroChroma is a self-funded operation that's based here in the Baltimore area but does manufacturing in Taiwan. Le Gette said their goal is to keep the company small and nimble and largely "virtual" and "in the cloud." They don't have a fancy headquarters office yet, in other words.

So far, I've tried out their cases for the iPhone and iPad and have been impressed with their finish and functionality. I particularly appreciate the iPad case, which is flexible enough to rotate from portrait to landscape mode. If you find yourself watching a lot of video while sitting at a desk, or in an airplane, this case may be for you.


You can even lower the iPad to a gentle typing level, which is very useful for those of us who do a lot of typing on the iPad. The cases range in price from $35 to $70.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

October 4, 2010

Google TV wants to rock your living room

:: Become a friend of BaltTech on Facebook::

Google released more information today about Google TV, their attempt to marry Web content (video, social media, etc.) to that big flat-panel TV you wish you could do more with in your living room.

It's basically a big tease, meant to get geeks like you and me salivating about channeling Internet content -- and apps! -- through your TV. But can Google and its partners deliver a software/hardware experience that makes Internet-on-your-TV a fun and effortless experience. (There are two ways to get Google TV: 1) through a TV specially built with Google TV inside or 2) through a small Google TV box you plug into your TV set.)

That's the thing about my TV now -- all I need is .001 percent of my brain cells to operate it. I turn to my TV when I want something completely brainless to do. All I have to say, Google, is that you better make Google TV as dumb-proof as possible.

Don't make me think!

That said, I must admit, I'm feeling the tech-lust organ in my body starting to tingle (it's right next to my spleen, folks)... Google TV is starting to look sweeter and sweeter. Let's hope it lives up to the mounting hype.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 3:01 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, For The Home, Gadgets, Web Dev & Apps

February 1, 2010

A free Hulu makes the Web great

hulu-logo.jpg Nothing casts a chill in the heart of a fancy-free Web surfer than all this talk lately of Hulu incorporating some type of a subscription model.

Yes, you heard me right. That free site of the latest (and even archival) programs you love to watch is trying to figure out how to squeeze a buck or two (or more) out of you each month.

Fight the tyranny of the subscription rate! Free Hulu!

But seriously, Hulu shows some of the best video content on the web. This stuff is in demand and people are watching -- you're telling me they can't command healthy advertising rates due to all their users? Come. On. Or are they just getting greedy?

Here's a Tribune story on the topic, titled For Hulu, Free May Soon Turn Into Free. Looks like whiney cable companies are at least partly behind the push to make people pay for the content. But of course.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:56 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: *NEWS*, For The Home, Media, Web Dev & Apps

September 8, 2009

Reverse 911 for your television?

You've heard of "reverse 911" communications systems, right?

That's where a police department can mass-dial thousands of homes an hour to make a pre-recorded announcement about a safety hazard. Perfect for when a child has gone missing, for example, and they need a neighborhood's help.

Well, Sony is trying to take that approach one step further: to your television set.

The technology giant last year filed a patent application for "reverse 911 using a TV." The filing states that emergency communications are transmitted by television "broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite and radio service providers."

Sony believes it can do the same thing using the Internet and a networked television.

The company believes networked televisions, which will have their own IP address, will become more common. How will such an emergency broadcast system work?

The reverse 911 message will come over the Internet and across your TV display. If your TV is off, the message will have the capacity to turn the TV set on (yes), so you could be alerted even when you're not paying attention.

How about that? Do you feel comfortable with Sony potentially building TV sets that can automatically turn on  in your home thanks to a signal from the government?

Mind you, it's just a patent filing and such a system may never get built. But it is now possible to do.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: For The Home, Gadgets

August 26, 2009

IBM building a TV remote that will auto-blog for you?

What do you buy your blogger friend who's also a couch potato? Why, IBM's proposed new auto-blogging remote control, of course.

Engineers at IBM have been developing a TV remote control that can be programmed to auto-blog while you watch whatever it is you want to watch, according to the patent filing.

How does it work? Let's take a look at a snippet from the patent filing, which was submitted last year but didn't show up online until April.

A viewer selects a media program to view by use of a remote controller with networking capability. Upon the viewer wishing to send a blog posting to a blog, the viewer determines whether a tag to be included in the blog posting is to be a pre-existing tag or a custom tag, wherein the blog posting comprises program information about the media program useful to identify the media program. If the tag is to be a pre-existing tag, the viewer selects the pre-existing tag from a plurality of pre-existing tags using the remote controller and if the tag is to be a custom tag, the viewer generates the custom tag using the remote controller. If a protocol provided by the remote controller to send the blog posting to the blog allows a snapshot of the media program to be included in the blog posting, the remote controller takes the snapshot of the media program and includes it in the blog posting.

So, basically, IBM has built a pretty potent little remote control that can be networked. You can set it to automatically post what you're viewing to your blog. (The patent talks about posting automatically to a microblogging service -- probably Twitter.)

The patent also references Joost, the social network for video watchers. One might surmise that IBM is looking for a way to do what Joost does for online viewers, but for your television set. One of my favorite parts of the patent offers this rationale for the remote:

"...more than ever, people wish to be able to share their comments with others in real-time as they experience life. In the case of television, for example, one of the joys of watching television is discussing with one's friends the juicy bits of a favorite show or the latest television program."

I contacted an IBM spokesman who couldn't help me ferret out more details in time for this posting. He could only confirm that the patent filing -- for "automatic blogging during media viewing" -- was indeed theirs.

Want to read the full filing? Go here.

But come back and let me know what you think? Do you watch so much TV and share your viewing habits so often with others that you'd need such a remote control?

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:15 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Big Ideas, For The Home, Gadgets, Social Media

June 3, 2009

Video: The Home Servidor

I met an interesting chap last week: Donavon West. He's an independent software developer who works out of his home in North Baltimore. He's also a tinkerer, with a fascination for both new and old tech -- and how to combine the two, at least aesthetically.

I wrote about one of his creations, which he's calling the Home Servidor. Take a look at the video below (BaltTech blog's first video!) for a little tour of it. (Note: no cigar was harmed in the making of this video and I don't condone smoking them. <cough-cough>)


To celebrate the spirit of hackery, anybody else out there doing interesting mashups of new and old tech? Drop a note in the comments. Maybe I'll show up at your front door with a video camera. ;-)

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:02 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, For The Home, Gadgets
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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

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